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Transforming Liang Yuan

Liang Yuan embarks on a journey of transformation to improve its business operations, providing better and safer jobs for its workers.

An introduction to Liang Yuan

Neo Garden is a familiar household brand known for its quality food and reliable services. However, many are not aware of the brand’s Mandarin moniker: Liang Yuan.

Liang Yuan represents the best of what Neo Garden has to offer, providing Chinese catering services that include buffet, seated dinners, and live stations. From food to presentation, crockery and adornments, Liang Yuan takes special care right down to the finest details. Their exquisite dishes and dedicated service earn them the deserving title of shifu (skillful master) in contemporary Chinese catering.

Liang Yuan’s signature dishes — the Signature Braised Ee Fu Noodles and the Roasted Duck (Image courtesy of Liang Yuan)

Two reasons to transform

 One might be surprised to learn that Liang Yuan also doubles up as a central kitchen, supplying to Neo Garden’s retail subsidiaries such as umisushi. With the catering arm impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Liang Yuan promptly shifted its focus to central kitchen production. The heightened demand in the retail chains, coupled with the cost-cutting measures had stretched the already lean workforce. This presented a pressing need for Liang Yuan to redesign its work processes to drive productivity.

Furthermore, work in the central kitchen can be laborious and physically demanding as it involves handling large quantities of food ingredients. Since older workers constitute part of Liang Yuan’s workforce, there is a greater push for automation and job redesignation.

On top of catering, Liang Yuan also provides supplies to its retail outlets like umisushi (Image courtesy of Liang Yuan)

The transformation journey

Liang Yuan is not only the shifu in contemporary Chinese catering but also an advocate of change. Recognising the need to transform, Liang Yuan swiftly identified the bottlenecks in their food preparation processes and searched for innovative solutions to address them.

With the support of NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i), Liang Yuan embarked on several WorkPro Job Redesign initiatives, which include the purchase of an egg breaker machine, an automatic rice mixing machine as well as a produce washing machine. All three machines automate the food preparation processes, bringing about an overall improvement in productivity, greater consistency in food quality, as well as reducing food wastage.

For example, the egg breaker machine separates the egg white from the yolk at a rate of 3000 eggs per hour, a significant improvement compared to the past when the workers had to perform the repetitive job by hand. Similarly, the automatic rice mixing machine replaces manual labour and mixes 15 kg of ingredients based on a pre-set recipe. This lightens the workload, making it easier and safer for the older workers. The produce washing machine also has automatic mixing functions for a thorough and effortless cleaning of up to 500kg of vegetables daily.

Initially, the workers had reservations about the machines as they worried that the maintenance work would be time-consuming and more labour-intensive. However, after undergoing the training, they learnt that it was much more manageable than first thought. The machines are also user-friendly and easy to master. Over time, the workers realised the other benefits that automation brought to the table and saw how the machines greatly increased the productivity and efficiency in their daily work.


Liang Yuan’s plans for the future

Now that the workers are more receptive to new technologies, Liang Yuan plans to continue its transformation journey. In addition to improving the kitchen operations, Liang Yuan intends to leverage on digital marketing and e-commerce platforms to widen its reach and increase brand awareness.

It is common to associate transformation with high-end manufacturing plants or smart factories. Nevertheless, Liang Yuan has proven that transformation is paramount in every industry and establishment, big and small alike. Instead of resisting change, Liang Yuan has taken the bold step to transform. The journey ahead is challenging but with concerted efforts from the workers, e2i and industry partners, Liang Yuan will be able to overcome existing operational shortfalls with innovative solutions.

“Technology is the heart of Neo Group.” Liang Yuan is a strong testament to this quote by its founder, Neo Kah Kiat.

For more information on Liang Yuan, visit , http://www.liangyuan.com.sg/

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An Lyn Chee

Editorial Intern

An Lyn enjoys cafe hopping, thrift shopping, and watching The Devil Wears Prada as many times as humanly possible. On her days off, you’ll likely find her in Insta-worthy eateries; overdressed and ordering food and drink that she can barely afford.

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