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Raising productivity the high tech way

Koufu is trying out the use of robots at a few of its outlets.

THE next time you visit a Koufu food court, do not be surprised if a robot clears your food tray.

The food court operator is experimenting with the use of robots at a few of its outlets and has plans to roll them out islandwide.

The humanoid robots are equipped with sensors and racks. They move around tables and stop to allow customers to return their trays. The robots will then move to the washing area when their racks are full, where cleaners will unload the trays.

Testing robots is one of the ways that Koufu is tapping into technology to boost productivity.

Food and beverage outlets in Singapore have grappled with getting customers to return their food trays after finishing their meals. Koufu hopes that the tray return robots will address the problem. Cleaners will also be freed up from tending to tables.

Another way that Koufu is using technology to increase efficiency is having customers use an app on their mobile phones to order and pay for their food. Human errors are eliminated during the ordering process, and customers do not have to wait in line to make orders. The app also informs customers when their food is ready to be collected.

"This (the app) would help in improving customers' waiting time and thus experience," said Pang Lim, Koufu's managing director.

Koufu started thinking about ways to improve its productivity in 2009 when it realised that boosting efficiency was essential to fuel growth in the business.

"Increased productivity simplifies the operating process. This allows us to have a competitive edge over others, thus creating customers' value proposition for sustainable business growth," said Mr Pang.

The company also believes that being adaptable and staying efficient is a must for businesses to stay relevant in the new economy.

"Disruptions from new technologies and new business models like Uber are affecting a lot of traditional businesses," said Mr Pang.

"Our biggest challenge would then be our ability to adapt and transform our business so as to remain relevant to society, and be able to continuously create value propositions for our customers."

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