Redefining Cookhouse Concepts

The challenge: how can we reduce the number of cookhouses and manpower involved, while increasing the number of meals produced?

The answer: gather and automate! That was the solution proposed by a joint team from DSTA and the Singapore Army, which spearheaded the centralisation and automation of kitchen operations to increase cooking capacity while reducing manpower needs.

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Our team checking out a cookhouse to better formulate new procurement strategies.

Under the SAF Cookhouse Commercialisation Programme, commercial caterers are contracted to serve meals to the SAF in various camps. In light of increasing food and labour costs, it was crucial that the team develop a new approach to keep prices competitive while meeting the meal quality and needs for the SAF.

One idea was a new Design, Equip and Operate (DEO) cookhouse concept to centralise and automate kitchen operations. Cluster Head (General Products & Services) Choo Liling explained: “Traditionally, kitchen operations were decentralised and labour-intensive. Given the ageing workforce, we saw potential in centralising and employing technology such as automated cooking equipment. Hence, the Army conducted trials to validate this concept, and partnered us to implement it across all SAF cookhouses during a contract renewal.”

With the new concept, the SAF cookhouse is projected to see a 52 per cent increase in cooking capacity alongside a 30 per cent reduction in manpower. This would allow the suppliers more creativity in their meal preparation, leading to improved quality of meals served in the cookhouses. Furthermore, the long-term contracting and negotiation that are part of the concept will reap significant recurrent savings.

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Senior Procurement Manager (Logistics, Operations & Sustainment) Karmaine Kong added: “With the DEO concept, we hope to transform and raise the productivity of cookhouse management and operations, and improve the dining experience for the SAF.”