Smart technology to speed up your order at the coffee shop

The FoodTastic coffee shop in Choa Chu Kang Avenue 1 has features such as digital order kiosks, a tray-return robot and a food-waste composter machine.
The FoodTastic coffee shop in Choa Chu Kang Avenue 1 has features such as digital order kiosks, a tray-return robot and a food-waste composter machine.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

'Productive' coffee shops with digital ordering system, robots launched

Patrons at two new coffee shops in Tampines and Choa Chu Kang can look forward to fuss-free dining experiences, with innovations such as tray-return robots, digital ordering and cashless payment options. 

Launched over the weekend, they are the first two "productive" coffee shops here.

Productive coffee shops are among the innovative business formats identified under the Food Services Industry Transformation Map, which food companies can adopt to use less manpower and better meet consumers' needs.

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Sim Ann said yesterday that a tender for "productive" coffee shops in Bukit Batok, Punggol and Yishun will be called from the third quarter of this year.

The Tampines and Choa Chu Kang coffee shops are the first batch set up under a tender system which was revised last year to include productivity considerations.

The Government targets to have 100 of such coffee shops by 2020.

  • 100

    Target number of coffee shops set up by 2020 under a tender system which was revised last year to include productivity considerations.

This comes as coffee shop operators face challenges such as the tightening of the labour market and changing workforce aspirations.

Yesterday, Ms Sim launched the FoodTastic coffee shop in Choa Chu Kang Avenue 1.

The coffee shop, operated by Chang Cheng Group, features an array of smart technologies, from a food-waste composter machine to an automatic floor-cleaning robot.

It also boasts a ready-to-eat hot food vending machine as well as a tray-return automation system and a tray-return robot. 

Those who visited the coffee shop told The Straits Times that innovative solutions such as the self-ordering kiosks and mobile applications make the dining experience more pleasant, and take away the hassle of standing in long queues for food.

IT manager Johnny Toh, 42, who was there with his family, is pleased to find that coffee shops are evolving. "It definitely makes eating at a coffee shop more interesting. There are also no more long queues to order food."

Compared with Chang Cheng's other coffee shops, FoodTastic's use of technology has reduced manpower by up to 60 per cent.

Mr Ricky Kok, managing director of Chang Cheng Group, said coffee shops have to modernise to improve the work environment, and his staff can be allocated to "more value-added job designations".

"We hope that this will also change the perception of the industry and attract more workers to join us, given the exciting prospects ahead."

Last Saturday, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli launched the Happy Hawkers coffee shop, operated by Koufu, in Tampines Street 86. It has self-ordering kiosks as well as a food-waste digester and a smart tray-return robot, among other features.

Mr Masagos said adjustments must be made as coffee shops adopt smart technologies, such as having robots return used trays, but that the transformation is also necessary to ensure their sustainability.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 22, 2017, with the headline 'Smart technology to speed up your order'. Print Edition | Subscribe