Working in a Chinese takeaway, we have an old school way of doing things. Pen and paper. Its fast, its cheap, its easy to use. However, lately we have been considering how information technology could help alleviate some of the short-comings that our antiquated system has.
After a little fantasizing, day-dreaming, blue sky thinking … I came up with a few interesting (albeit probably pointless) projects.
One of the biggest problems in a busy kitchen such as ours, is that it requires a certain level of skill to coordinate between the chefs, the packers, manage waiting times, and to juggle several other tasks at once. Often orders are forgotten or neglected and customers end up waiting longer than need be for their order to be completed.
The kitchen manager needs to keep a list of items still missing from orders, and coordinate with the chefs to find the most efficient way to complete the orders. Batch cooking where possible, considering which orders can be completed fastest, and which orders are the most urgent. This process of prioritizing is not an easy skill to teach, especially to staff that are too timid or not interested in assuming the responsibility.
Could a system be made to automate this process? Orders go into the system, and the system organizes the orders into the most efficient order of cooking, coordinating the chefs to ensure that orders are cooked and completed swiftly.
Could the system be improved by continuously monitoring and assessing the cooking times required by the chefs, and using that feedback to reorganize the orders to further reduce waiting times?
Of course, this is a fairly complex system and will probably require more time and funds than I have access to. Although, a DIY version will undoubtedly be cheaper than an off the shelf or bespoke system.
Order Number PA System
Another system, proposed by a sibling, would be a simple Order Number PA system that announces and displays orders that are ready for collection. Although not new, it could be an interesting project. A potentially interesting spin would be to use the Raspberry Pi platform. A small computer not much larger than a credit card to host the application.
Similarly, we also have a menu system that displays images of the dishes that we have on our menu, this could also be a good opportunity to remake the system using the smaller (and cheaper) Raspberry Pi system.