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Digital initiatives launched to help Singapore F&B companies access global markets and improve efficiency

Digital initiatives launched to help Singapore F&B companies access global markets and improve efficiency

Enterprise
Singapore
has introduced
new digital initiatives at the Food & Hotel Asia (FHA) 2018 to support
Singapore food and beverage (F&B) and food manufacturing companies in
adopting technology to capture new overseas opportunities and improve
operational efficiencies.

The initiatives launched include a B2B online platform for
food manufacturers and a showcase of newer technologies that F&B companies
can adopt, called RESTAURANT 3.0.

The food services industry contributes 5% of total
employment in Singapore. Efficient technology-enabled processes can help
improve workflow, enhance the working environment for staff and retain
employees with the right skills and aptitude. According to the press release, as
of end-2017, more than a third of food outlets in Singapore were already
adopting technology such as digital services and kitchen automation.

B2B online platform

The SMF SMART App, conceptualised and executed by Enterprise
Singapore and the Singapore Manufacturing federation (SMF) aims to make it
easier, faster and more convenient for food manufacturers to export overseas.

The B2B online platform supports food manufacturers in
gaining greater access to markets such as Southeast Asia as it allows for
easier consolidation of online orders and checks on authenticity of products
purchased.

Visitors at the show can use the smart app to scan barcodes
of physical products to view more product details and checkout via the smart
app. Additionally, to extend the reach of the Singapore Pavilion beyond the
physical show, Enterprise Singapore and SMF introduced an online Singapore
Pavilion on Alibaba.com. This enables the products to be showcased on a
globally recognised business-to-business platform where overseas buyers can
browse Singapore products and indicate business interest.

Key highlights of the app which was developed by Singapore
technology company iSprint Innovations include easy consolidation of online
orders for overseas buyers, where buyers can use the app to either scan the
barcode of physical products at FHA, or access the SMF Digital Marketplace on
the app. Details of Singapore products will be listed on the SMF Digital
Marketplace for buyers to view.

The app facilitates automatic checks on quantities of
product/s required to fill each shipping container through the shipping cubic
meter calculation function. Singapore products can be authenticated with a
track and trace function via the use of QR code and IT security technology. The
app will also reduce paperwork for food manufacturers with an online
procurement process.

Currently, there are 103 Singapore companies with 871
products on board the SMF SMART App and SMF Alibaba.com platforms. SMF is
working to bring in more food manufacturers on board and exploring the
feasibility of extending the digital initiatives to other industries. The
digital initiatives are supported through Enterprise Singapore’s Local
Enterprise and Association Development (LEAD) programme. The programme aims to
enhance industry and enterprise competitiveness by providing focused and
customised support at the industry level for industry associations that are willing
to take the lead in industry development and drive initiatives to improve the
overall capabilities of SMEs in their industries.

Mr Sunny Koh, Deputy President of SMF and Chairman of the
F&B Industry Group, said, “Today’s launch of the digital initiatives
enhances the effectiveness of our WIP programme. They will further benefit our
SMEs in reaching out to users overseas including Southeast Asia. The track and
trace function of the SMF SMART App also helps prevent counterfeit of goods.” The
WIP programme is a partnership between Enterprise Singapore and SMF to enable
different Singapore food products to be consolidated in containers and exported
to overseas retailers/importers through direct shipment.

Ms Kee Ai Nah, Executive Director of Lifestyle &
Consumer Cluster, Enterprise Singapore, commented, “Enterprise Singapore’s
partnership with SMF enables Singapore SMEs to capture more overseas
opportunities by making the buyer’s procurement process easier through the use
of technology. SMF has been proactive and forwardlooking in driving tech
adoption; we hope to work with other TACs to implement such digital initiatives
to benefit our SMEs collectively.”

RESTAURANT 3.0 

RESTAURANT 3.0 at FHA 2018 showcases the newer technologies
that F&B companies can adopt. It presents how digital, robotics and
technology-enabled modular systems can improve the overall supply chain of food
services – from farm, processing and production (back-of-house) to service at
the table (front-of-house).

The showcase is a multi-party collaboration by Enterprise
Singapore, Workforce Singapore, Singapore Productivity Centre and Restaurant
Association of Singapore.

Back-of-house

Urban farming: F&B
operators and hoteliers can experiment on an urban farming solution to grow
their own vegetables and herbs in a controlled environment. This will cater to
customers’ increased preference for fresh ingredients and healthier food, and
also help create a novel dining experience.

Outsourcing of food
preparation
: F&B outlet kitchens can be made much more efficient by
outsourcing parts of the meal preparation to larger and better-equipped central
kitchens, operated by food manufacturers. This will reduce the need for smaller
F&B operators to make big investments in fully-equipped kitchens. In
addition, kitchen staff would have more time to review menu items, and work
with the manufacturer to serve consistently good food.

Ready Meals: Many
successful F&B operators already use this model, by leveraging a central
kitchen, to enable lean operations, where kitchen assistants only heat up,
plate and serve. This reduces back-of-house manpower requirements and the
chef’s time is freed up for menu engineering. By extension, the concept of
ready meals could open up new distribution channels, such as supermarkets and
e-commerce, without having to open additional outlets.

Optimising workflow
with automation
: RESTAURANT 3.0 demonstrates how smaller food companies can
adopt bite-sized automation in their outlet kitchens, where workflow can be
streamlined and redesigned to reduce labour-intensive tasks, such as inventory
management (receiving, storage, drawing of stocks); food preparation; and dishwashing.

Food preparation with
robotics
: Robotics, a step up from automation, can help achieve more
complex tasks. For instance, a pre-programmed robotic arm that can grill beef, will
pick up the raw meat from the chiller, cook it on the griddle, plate the steak
and have it placed at service point, all at the touch of a button.

Front-of-house

Food vaults: This
enables a new business format, where meals can be ordered from anywhere through
a mobile phone app or web-based platform, and then picked up at the allocated
vault. This is convenient for the customer, and spares the operator the need to
employ waiters.

RFID vending machines:
Food vending machines save manpower and space. The first Vendcafé , launched at
Anchorvale Drive in 2016, has 90% less manpower than an eatery offering a
similar menu and seating space. Open 24 hours, patrons can pop by anytime for a
meal or takeaway. From an operator’s standpoint, this completely man-less
outlet, which delivers a meal in under three minutes from ordering, is
productive. RESTAURANT 3.0 showcases new-generation vending machines that
utilise Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to serve up a variety
of hot and chilled meals.

Robotics: Robotics
deployed at the front-of-house to serve customers have proven to be both
efficient and entertaining. For example, a robotic platform may be programmed
to fulfil an order of serving ice cream inside a coconut shell, or make coffee.

As with back-of-house processes, food companies can also
automate front-of-house operations such as customer reservation and queue
management, as well as ordering, serving, billing and payment.

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