Words by Julia Chan
Find out how Singapore’s largest tingkat supplier uses innovation and automation to cater to thousands of people everyday.
Since 1999, Kim Paradise has been providing high-quality and delectable home-cooked meals to families, who number more than 6,000 pax daily today. Founded by Tan Swee Kim, this home-meal delivery (tingkat) company has its humble beginnings in a shared kitchen at Joo Chiat. With 25 years of experience under her belt, Kim has an unwavering belief that “Good food comes from a good heart with great passion”.
Her aim over the years is to make customers feel that Kim Paradise’s home-cooked food not only fills the belly, but also warms the heart and is exciting to come home to. From a shared kitchen, her company expanded to its own kitchen for meal delivery operations after embarking on a partnership with Neo Group. Apart from the tingkat delivery services, Kim Paradise innovated to offer new menu items in its healthful meal sets, economical bento meals and signature mini buffets.
How does Kim Paradise produce meals for over 6,000 people every day?
On a daily basis, Kim Paradise’s staff have to prepare high volumes of ingredients. For example, they go through around 500 kg of three to five different types of vegetables each day, which require some form of peeling, slicing and cooking for meals. As most of its staff are 40 years old and above, repetitive manual work from all the peeling and slicing can cause physical and mental strain. To cut, chop or peel hundreds of kilograms of vegetables, several staff normally take two hours to complete this tedious task.
To automate the process of peeling vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, and radishes, Kim Paradise decided to purchase a Vegetable Peeling Machine. Staff simply feed vegetables into the machine via a feed table and the job is done in 40 minutes, reducing time and risk of accidents. With the machine, food preparation is more hygienic due to less food contact with staff’s hands, and the vegetables have a longer shelf life as well, reducing wastage.
As soup is one of Kim Paradise’s core products, in the past, staff had to cook soup in large batches, which were heavy and could lead to accidental spills. The weight added to back strains or injuries when staff moved soup from the big pot to smaller portions, or when they had to stir and tilt the big pots to ensure the soup was evenly cooked.
To support their older workers with easier, smarter and safer work processes, Kim Paradise invested in a machine called a Tilting Kettle which enables workers to cook soup in larger batches. In addition, the tilting kettle provides automatic loading and unloading of cooked soup through the automatic tipping of the container. This not only reduced the physical burden and minimised back injuries of moving the soup across pots, but increased the output by 150% from 200L to 500L of soup cooked per hour.
Overall, with the time saved from the machines, staff were more productive as their output improved and fewer staff were needed to man the machines. The extra man hours were put to good use by moving to other stations for other work processes, and productivity gains were shared with staff in the form of wage increments.
What support did Kim Paradise receive?
Kim Paradise secured funding for its machines and job redesign via the WorkPro Job Redesign Grant which was introduced by NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i). The company credits its partnership with e2i in enabling it to invest in good quality machines to speed up work processes. The machines are easily operated by its older workers and the company has observed job satisfaction has increased together with better productivity.
This investment enabled Kim Paradise to scale up and redesign its services during the COVID-19 Circuit Breaker, when there was a jump from 5,000 to 10,000 people daily for tingkat orders – while catering orders dropped.
Faced with increased competition from new and existing service providers to meet the sudden surge in meal delivery demands, Kim Paradise focused internally towards improving and upgrading its food quality and services. The company also continued upgrading and improving its workflow processes by making use of the machines that greatly benefited its productivity.
Breaking records during the Circuit Breaker
It is a testament to the company’s foresight in taking the initiative in job redesign and productivity when it was accredited in the Singapore Book of Records as Singapore’s Largest Tingkat Supplier in December 2020. Having received close to 9,000 lunch and dinner meal orders in a day during the Circuit Breaker also won Kim Paradise the Singapore’s Largest Commencement Of New Tingkat Orders.
To keep the business sustainable, Kim Paradise plans to venture into new areas to promote its brand and to get closer to its customers. It wants to introduce more varieties of cuisines and menus, as well as innovative food options to cater to consumers’ evolving tastes. To stay one step ahead, the company is also looking at leveraging on Artificial Intelligence and automation for future tingkat home delivery services.