Words by Julia Chan
Tiong Lian Food defines industry standards by maintaining a high quality of service 24/7; 365 days a year.
For almost half a century, Tiong Lian Food has been supplying quality pork from countries such as Australia and Indonesia for our daily meals whether we are dining at home or out.
Larry Teo, Tiong Lian Food’s business manager, shared, “We started in 1974 and were the first supplier then to supply pork and poultry to supermarkets such as Yaohan and Cold Storage. Right now, we import pork carcass, debone, process and distribute meat products to the major supermarkets, wet markets, hotels, foodservices and wholesalers in Singapore.”
Its fleet of 16 trucks deliver island-wide all day, everyday, hence freshly prepared and hygienically sealed meats are supplied to customers, at anytime of day.
How does Tiong Lian’s team maintain such high standards of service?
To achieve such economies of scale, Tiong Lian Food’s production plant at 202 Pandan Loop houses not only its state-of-the-art portion cutting machine (the first in Singapore), but it hires some of the most highly skilled and capable team of butchers in the industry.
Teo said, “Customers may be surprised that most of the meat process is done here in our factory. Processes such as slicing, marination and packing are all done in our facility according to our customer requirements.”
With an ageing workforce, Tiong Lian Food needed to look for ways to make their jobs easier, safer, and smarter. Teo explained, “We have a total of around 160 employees with Singaporeans making up 82 of them. Our typical age for Singaporean employees is 40 and above, while 29 of them are aged 51 to 60.”
This meant that different job roles within the company had to be redesigned to be friendly to older workers.
For example, in the past, two workers had to manually stack used crates (which were used to store meat) and push them into a lift at Level 1 to be transported to Level 3 for washing. This process which could take at least 10 to 15 minutes.
A third worker stationed at the lift on Level 3 had to receive the dirty crates and push them into a holding area for a fourth worker to push the crate to the washing machine for cleaning. This process was strenuous and laborious and required at least four men to complete.
Redesigning jobs to be easier, safer and smarter
With funding from the WorkPro Job Redesign initiative via NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i), Tiong Lian Food purchased a conveyor system and a crate washing system.
With these new systems, used crates were transported much faster (less than three minutes) from Level 1 to 3. The crates were also cleaned faster, which meant clean crates were available more quickly when production needed these to fulfil an order.
The staff strength dedicated to this role was reduced from six to two persons. Tiong Lian Food could redeploy and train extra staff to operate machines, monitor quality control and assist in meat packing. With higher productivity, the company reviewed and adjusted the salaries upwards for the impacted workers.
Another benefit of the new systems was that Tiong Lian Food could hire workers more easily as the crate washing jobs were now less physically-laborious.
Tiong Lian Food is not stopping here. Teo elaborated, “One of our future plans is looking into pre-cooked products as customers today are either looking at convenience or they are too busy to prepare a meal at home. As such, we are looking into developing pre-cooked meals where customer can prepare and serve easily.”
For more information about Tiong Lian Food, visit www.tlfood.com.sg