Many restaurants are still handwriting orders on notepads and either hand-delivering or printing an order ticket to the kitchen. These unnecessary steps can lead to inaccuracies or compromised productivity. As advanced restaurant technology becomes more accessible and widespread, these restaurants are looking to kitchen display systems (KDS) to automate the food preparation process.
KDS are designed to make life easier in any restaurant setting including delivery, but especially table service environments where communication between the wait staff and kitchen staff is crucial. It is difficult for restaurants to realize the true benefits of such a system until they learn how it will fit into their workflow and what it can accomplish.
How orders will be received
The questions on many restaurateurs’ minds are “How will it replace my kitchen printer?” and “How will it be better than my kitchen printer?”
KDS consist of a combination of a monitor, touch screen and/or bump bar. These features replace your kitchen printer and digitally display incoming orders – sequencing them by time, type, destination, etc.
These systems are helpful in harsh kitchen environments where steam or high temperatures could affect a printer’s ability to produce order tickets. Also, things can get messy in a kitchen – order tickets can easily be lost, damaged or covered in food ingredients. Not to mention, restaurants can eliminate unnecessary paper waste and costs related to replacing printer rolls.
How orders will be displayed
As mentioned, orders are displayed on a digital monitor rather than printed on an order ticket. When new orders come in, they are displayed before the next-to-last order. Several orders can be displayed on the screen at once so that several orders can be prepared simultaneously. As orders are completed, they can be “bumped” off the screen with the KDS’ bump bar to allow room for the newest orders. The rest of the staff can be notified when orders are completed.
How orders will be tracked
In a paper-based system, any changes or updates that need to be made to an order after it has already been printed must be either reprinted or handwritten on the original ticket. This can lead to confusion in the kitchen and time wasted asking questions. A KDS will show employees that the original item has been cancelled or changed, and modifiers can be displayed in different colors to make them more noticeable.
Employees can be alerted on a few separate occasions: when a new order is received, when the end of the allotted preparation time frame is approaching, and when it has been exceeded.
Orders can be routed to different stations and displayed differently according to the filter criteria configured in the restaurant’s KDS, such as item type or category.
When an order needs to be prepared later or associated with a different destination, it can be “parked” on the KDS. The operator can automatically park the order using their POS system.
KDS can be configured to include expediting options, allowing restaurants to make certain orders priority. The order’s status can be monitored and the front counter or waiter who took the order can be notified when it’s ready.
Another added benefit of a KDS system is that restaurant operators will be able to view reports indicating their employees’ performance – average order completion time, the percentage of orders that were completed on time, the percentage that weren’t and how many seconds or minutes by which the order time was exceeded. These metrics are extremely useful in evaluating your staff’s strengths and weaknesses.
With a kitchen display system, restaurants can keep a closer eye on employee performance and the quality of their service, allowing them to set a higher standard.