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Moving Up the Value Chain By Focusing on Processes

By adopting a holistic approach to its production process, local noodle manufacturer Tan Seng Kee has optimised its production while minimising marginal costs, transferring these savings to its customers.

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Published by Enterprise Singapore
on 31 Aug 2016

Moving Up the Value Chain By Focusing on Processes

Continual improvement is one of the core business values of Tan Seng Kee (TSK), a home-grown noodle manufacturer. Its directors, Annie and Raymond Tan strongly believe that this helps them focus on enhancing internal processes and also challenges them to innovate.

The company has achieved a fully automated production process, pasteurising fresh noodles to increase shelf life to over two weeks at room temperature (and up to six months when chilled), launching an express meal kit with fresh paste in three local flavours and securing halal certification – all of which resulted in new revenue streams.

The siblings have gathered various process and product improvement insights throughout their business journey, which includes:

1. Having a Vision From the Beginning

Ms Tan states that TSK has never strayed from its vision: producing healthy products that are fresh and preservative free. Understanding the company’s core competencies and continually innovating has driven the company to success.

2. Accepting and Embracing Change

“Change is constant so always embrace it for the better. We did this by building all our projects on top of each other,” shares Ms Tan. Mr Tan adds that embracing change is part of the company culture. “It’s important to build this within your team from the beginning as people are normally resistant to change. The top management’s role is crucial in taking the first step and to instil them. Be patient, even though this can be tough. Change is disruptive and takes time,” he notes.

Some of the modifications and changes the company has made over the years include the pasteurisation of fresh noodles, which the Tans describe as a very long process, and the introduction of strict quality assurance and hygiene practices. Mr Tan says that the company’s attainment of its ISO 22000 certification is a continuation of the philosophy of pushing change. The certification covers not just the manufacturing process but also office documentation and logistics. It also builds on the HACCP programme, helping the company further improves its processes.

3. Strengthen the Company Structure for Further Growth

In order to achieve its HACCP certification, TSK strengthened its process structure and the quality of suppliers.  Since embarking on its HACCP certification, TSK has hired a team that is food-science trained to help manage the stringent food guidelines necessary for the ISO 22000 programme and drive its R&D projects.

4. Understanding the Market and Customers

Understanding the market’s needs and wants and being able to adapt to this is crucial. For example, TSK gained its gluten-free certification in the US two years after realising that there was a market there for such products. The express meal kit was also designed after observing changes in the consumer’s lifestyle habits and listening to customer feedback. “Innovate when necessary to keep competitive but don’t be too ahead of the curve,” warns Mr Tan. He adds that understanding market-readiness is equally important for determining when to introduce new products.

5. Transforming Business by Making Processes Leaner

The Tans stress that it is important to focus not just on productivity improvements but also on making the process leaner. They share that focusing on TSK’s processes has helped take the company to another level of development. “It’s not about chasing accreditation or recognition but about adopting a system that helps us grow our business. Having proper standards in place ensures that the whole team moves forward in the same direction. While it might be an expensive and time-consuming process, it’s definitely worth it as our company has moved up the value-chain,” adds Ms Tan.

6. Leveraging Available Resources

The Tans share that they have sought help from government agencies like SPRING (now Enterprise Singapore1) and tapped on schemes such as the Capability Development Grant, in order to continue building their business. “Government agencies are good sources for advice and knowledge. In addition, they have been active especially over the last few years in driving change and progress in enhancing quality, standards and processes. The onus is on the company to tap on this,” says Mr Tan.


1SPRING Singapore merged with IE Singapore to form Enterprise Singapore on 1 April 2018.

Last Modified Date: 10 Jan 2020