Words by Earnest Lim
How homegrown restaurant brand, Thazanas Cuisine, grew its operations from its initial start in Osaka, Japan.
Thazanas Cuisine Pte. Ltd. serves a myriad of cuisines including Thai, Western, Northern and Southern Indian dishes at their main outlet located at King George’s Avenue. It serves Halal Chinese, Malay and North Indian dishes. You’ll be surprised to learn that Thazanas also has another flagship, Royal Prata Palace Yugen Kisha, located in Osaka, Japan.
The growth of the business led Thazanas‘ management to relook their operations and reengineer certain processes to improve efficiency, safety and quality. The company’s management found that there was room for improvement when it came to the efficiency of food preparation, dishwashing and customer response time. Additionally, there was an increase in stockouts and minor employee injuries in the kitchen. Thazanas‘ goal in working with NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) was to reduce the labour intensity for its older workers, improve safety in the kitchen and implement technology that can help track its inventory digitally.
Prior to the upgrade, older workers in the kitchen had to wash dishes by hand as well as perform ingredient preparation functions such as chopping vegetables in bulk. This process was incredibly labour intensive and even led to minor kitchen-related injuries which are commonplace in the industry. Employees also had to manually track kitchen inventory with a simple Excel spreadsheet that was cobbled together over the years.
Throughout the project, Thazanas worked closely with e2i to identify the most crucial areas of improvement as well as the equipment that would be best suited to carry out the job. e2i also ensured the redesign process would result in tangible benefits for the older workers. The company upgraded to an automatic dishwasher which increased its cleaning capacity and reduced the amount of harmful chemicals that workers would have to come in contact with. Thazanas also brought in an automated vegetable cutter that reduced the preparation time and improved workplace safety due to the reduction of knife-handling. For inventory management processes, Thazanas adopted an inventory management system (IMS) that gave them the ability to automate inventory control, track inventory flow against physical quantity of stock, generate crucial reports for management and reconcile discrepancies.
Overall, the project improved productivity by reducing manual man-hours by 30% and resulted in a 20% increase in wages for eight older workers aged 50 and above. Furthermore, the older workers were redeployed to less labour-intensive & higher-value tasks such as assisting customers with orders and refreshments; resulting in an increase in customer satisfaction.
The company’s management took time in explaining the benefits of the upgrade to all its workers prior to embarking on the project. They assured them that the improvements would reduce the physical labour required without negatively impacting their wages or result in any retrenchments. The older workers were given adequate training to help them establish their confidence in operating the new equipment safely and competently. By having the workers go through the operational procedures with the new systems and equipment in place, they quickly understood the benefit of the upgrades and worked closely with the management to ensure the project would be a success.
In light of the increased capacity, Thazanas’ management have laid plans to incrementally grow the business by exploring areas such as digital marketing and automation. Thazanas has also adapted quickly to the new environment imposed by ensuring all their operations meet the requirements for a safe dining environment for its patrons as well as a safe working environment for its staff.