Words by Hoe Ziqian
Domino’s Pizza has been operating in Singapore since 2009, providing dine-in, takeaway and delivery concepts with 34 outlets islandwide. Over the years, the brand has become synonymous with quality pizza that can be delivered quickly but with no compromise in taste and flavour.
The operations of Domino’s Pizza Singapore are supported by its central kitchen facility known as the Commissary. The Commissary supplies all 34 outlets with the raw ingredients essential to their daily operations, including the all-important dough that is the hallmark of every Domino’s pizza.
The team at Domino’s Pizza Singapore has aggressive plans for expansion but are constrained by the manpower shortage at the Commissary. Due to the demanding nature of the food business, it is difficult to appeal to the local jobseekers, especially the younger workforce. Older workers do not necessarily shun such roles but are often unable to withstand the physical demands required in pizza production. This is the fundamental obstacle standing between Domino’s Pizza Singapore and its ambition of opening more stores.
The company sought the help of NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to explore creative ways to unlock the production capacity at its Commissary. After a detailed review of the situation by the dedicated team of industry experts at e2i, a solution was found through the WorkPro Job Redesign initiative. The initiative provided the funding support for the purchase of an automatic tray de-stacking system, which solves the intrinsic constraint faced by Domino’s Pizza Singapore by reducing the multiple physical movements and heavy lifting of trays filled with dough.
During the dough production at the Commissary, an employee known as the tray stacker used to bend up and down at least a thousand times each day to arrange trays in a cross-stack position. The trays are arranged in this unique cross-stack position to allow for easy access during the pizza making process at the restaurant.
After deploying the automatic tray de-stacking system at the Commissary, Domino’s Pizza Singapore is now able to produce more trays each day with lesser manpower. They are also able to hire older workers or less able-bodied employees for the dough production station, as the physical requirements are no longer as taxing.
With heavy lifting and constant bending up and down a thing of the past for the tray stacker, the risk of injury is greatly reduced. The chances of the trays slipping and dropping on the employee’s feet are now eliminated since the process has been mechanised.
While it may be apparent that the production process is now safer at the Commissary, you might not have realised that the work has also been made smarter. Through the mechanisation of the process, the need for strenuous bending movement and intricate tray stacking has been removed. Instead, the trays are now placed onto a conveyor belt which simply feeds the trays through a metal detector before moving them to a robotic arm which automatically cross-stacks the trays after placement.
There is also no need for manual counting of number of trays on each stack as the robot automatically limits each stack to 16 trays and ejects each completed stack like clockwork. The tray stacker only needs to stand at the tray exit and remove each stack before transferring them into the chiller for storage.
This success story reminds us that sometimes the biggest problems in life can be solved with the simplest of solutions. As a result of the efficiency improvements realised from this job redesign project, Domino’s Pizza Singapore was able to reward 23 older workers with a wage increment.
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