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A Tasty Serving of Business Success

How Timbre+ is using innovative technologies to engineer social change and boost productivity.

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Published by Enterprise Singapore
on 01 Apr 2018

A Tasty Serving of Business Success

Mr Edward Chia (above), Timbre Group’s Managing Director, already runs some of Singapore’s most successful bars. But with his latest venture, Timbre+, a mixed concept eatery, he’s aiming to be a hit on the local food scene as well.

Launched in April this year, the company’s new 800-seat “gastropark” is equipped with sophisticated technology, including a centralised high-tech dishwashing point, an IT-powered tray system and a self-order and payment kiosk.

The motivation for these technology investments? “The tight labour market,” says Mr Chia. “We needed to find a way to reduce our reliance on manpower because we realised that the more we expanded, themore workers we needed to hire – something that’s unsustainable in the long run.”

Using SPRING Singapore’s (now Enterprise Singapore1) Capability Development Grant (CDG) in 2015, Mr Chia set about buying new high-tech equipment, and designing and building a high-tech dishwashing facility.

“The CDG allows businesses to claim up to 70% of qualifying costs for initiatives to upgrade business capabilities, so our plan was to put processes in place that could improve workflow and boost productivity,” he says.

Lean operations
As well as serving up tasty dishes, Timbre+ aims to engineer social change. Its IT-powered tray system requires diners to pay S$1 for a tray, which is automatically returned when they take the radio-chipped tray to the dishwashing point.

The solution – for which Mr Chia has filed a patent – seems to be working. Since April this year, more than 90% of trays have been returned by diners.

“Now, instead of eight cleaners, we only need three,” says Mr Chia. “Our cleaners have been redeployed to more value-added roles, such as providing assistance to customers at the dishwashing point to improve dining experiences. As a result, they’ve reported feeling more job satisfaction.”

Timbre+’s labour-saving results have also inspired other food court developers across the island. “We’ve received a number of enquiries asking us to help design and put in place some of Timbre+’s operational processes in other food centres, as well as to set up Timbre+ in other locations,” he adds.

A healthy landlord-tenant relationship
Mr Chia’s technology strategy has helped the company deliver on another business imperative: the landlord-tenant relationship.

“Many landlords – especially in the retail space in Singapore – are scrambling to attract and retain tenants, highlighting the importance of tenant satisfaction,” says Mr Chia. “Many have reported seeing tenants come and go in as little as six months, which isn’t very good for business.”

That’s why, he says, landlords have to step up and play a bigger role in ensuring the success of their tenants.

“Our centralised dishwashing point and IT-powered tray system benefit all tenants at Timbre+, because each hawker stall, restaurant or food truck housed here does not need to hire their own cleaners or dishwashers,” Mr Chia explains. “This translates to lower operational and administrative costs and higher profits for our tenants.”

Strategy for the future
The success of Timbre+ has given Mr Chia the confidence to further strengthen the company’s technology efforts to drive business growth, productivity and sustainability.

By the end of this year, he plans to install solar-powered smart bins at the eatery. Each bin will contains in-built solar-powered compaction technology that increases its capacity (from 606 litres to 800 litres) when full.

“These home-grown smart bins will be able to send out alerts to our cleaners when they are full, ensuring an effective and efficient rubbish management system at Timbre+, and overall cleanliness.”

As for more long-term plans, Mr Chia is looking at drones. “We’re exploring how we can use them, instead of waiters and waitresses, to deliver food to customers’ tables.”

He puts it this way: “The current tight labour situation means we need to constantly think of new, innovative ways to reduce manpower needs, boost productivity and ensure business sustainability – all of which are possible with technology. We see our technology strategy as a win-win solution for all stakeholders.”


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

Last Modified Date: 08 Jan 2020