Committee of Supply debate: Ministry of Manpower

Scheme serves up higher productivity for restaurant

Mr Raveenthiran Thangavelu (in blue shirt), owner of The Singapore Curry by Velu's, said it was not easy convincing his staff that using technology would work. But his staff, including waiter Anwar Aziz Marican, have embraced the changes, which have
Mr Raveenthiran Thangavelu (in blue shirt), owner of The Singapore Curry by Velu's, said it was not easy convincing his staff that using technology would work. But his staff, including waiter Anwar Aziz Marican, have embraced the changes, which have cut down the time taken for orders to be served by 40 per cent, and increased productivity.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH
MINISTER OF STATE FOR MANPOWER TEO SER LUCK
MINISTER OF STATE FOR MANPOWER TEO SER LUCK

Teo Ser Luck: LED Scheme to be beefed up to make innovation pervasive across industries

Waiter Anwar Aziz Marican used to scribble orders for curry, prata or teh tarik on slips of paper before running off to place the orders at the kitchen and drink counter.

It was tiring work, and when order slips went missing - as they sometimes do - it meant hungry customers waiting for their food, said the 65-year-old.

But in November last year, his employer, Indian restaurant The Singapore Curry by Velu's, put in place a new integrated system that allows waiters to punch in orders electronically on their mobile devices.

It has cut down the time taken for orders to be served by 40 per cent, and increased productivity.

"Last time, it was so stressful, now it's much easier. Once you punch in the order, it goes to the cashier, kitchen and drink station. It's really fantastic," said Mr Anwar.

 

  • $1.73 billion

    Total bill; down 7.5 per cent

    66

    workers lost their lives at work last year

    9,000

    people have opted for the CPF Enhanced Retirement Sum

    167,000

    workers did freelancing as their main job last year

The restaurant at Eunos Community Club was cited by Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck in Parliament as an example of how the Lean Enterprise Development (LED) Scheme has helped companies use technology to overcome manpower constraints. Some 2,100 small and medium-sized enterprises have benefited from the scheme since its October 2015 start.

"This example illustrates that when a company innovates and transforms to become more productive, jobs improve and the workers benefit as well - through acquisition of new skills and higher wages," said Mr Teo, who noted that Mr Anwar's salary has gone up by 16 per cent as he is more productive.

"This is a win-win for both firms and workers," he added.

Mr Teo said close to 90 per cent of the companies were helped by digitisation or adopting new technology. This year, LED will be strengthened to make innovation and productivity improvements pervasive across industries, he added.

Mr Chong Kee Hiong (Bishan- Toa Payoh GRC) had asked if success stories of companies under LED could be shared.

The restaurant's owner, Mr Raveenthiran Thangavelu, 50, said it was not easy convincing his staff that the new technology would work. "Initially, everyone looked at it with a bit of suspicion," he said.

WIN-WIN APPROACH

When a company innovates and transforms to become more productive, jobs improve and the workers benefit as well - through acquisition of new skills and higher wages. This is a win-win for both firms and workers.

MINISTER OF STATE FOR MANPOWER TEO SER LUCK, noting that waiter Anwar Aziz Marican's salary has gone up by 16 per cent as he is more productive.

Some older staff had to learn how to operate the electronic gadgets from scratch. Said Mr Anwar: "Using the tablet was confusing for me at first... It took me three or four days to get the hang of it."

But learning to use mobile technology also means he can now communicate with his three children via WhatsApp, said Mr Anwar, adding that his family is impressed with how quickly he has learnt.

"Now, if my children want anything, they just WhatsApp me and I can WhatsApp them back. They call me 'Superdad'," he quipped.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2017, with the headline 'Scheme serves up higher productivity for restaurant'. Print Edition | Subscribe