KDS vs. Kitchen Printers: Which Solution Should You Choose?
Choosing a back of the house solution is a huge decision for restaurant operators. Should you go with a traditional or modern system? If you already have a traditional solution, is it time to modernize your restaurant? Transitioning to new restaurant technology requires a lot of thought and planning. Let’s discuss types of back of house solutions and the pros and cons of each.
What is a Kitchen Printer and KDS?
A kitchen printer is connected to the point-of-sale (POS) in a restaurant. When a server rings up a customer’s order, the POS records the transaction and a paper ticket is printed in the back of the house for the kitchen staff.
A Kitchen Display System (KDS) is a digital order viewer that replaces your paper tickets and kitchen printers. When an order is rang in through the POS, it would display on the KDS so that the back of house can begin the order.
Kitchen Printer and KDS: What to Expect
A kitchen printer is much more cost-efficient than a kitchen display system, making it a more desirable option for many. It is also the traditional way that restaurants keep track of orders and what many restaurant owners feel most comfortable with.
Although kitchen printers are widely used by restaurants, they do have their issues. One of the first problems with kitchen printers is that it would require you to have someone in the expo position. This puts a larger burden on your staffing needs, potential training, and budget.
When it comes to inefficiencies with food preparation, kitchen printers present a few problems. Most importantly, tickets can be lost easily. This leads to longer cook times and frustrated guests, and can also weigh down how quickly you turntables. In addition, printers can disrupt communication amongst back of house and front of house staff, especially if changes are made to order.
A kitchen display system is a more modern approach to managing the back of house. It helps streamline your restaurant so that business runs seamlessly. A KDS will manage meal coursing, cook times, recipes, and basic routing to specific stations. This makes the expo position considerably more effective.
Why Use a Kitchen Display System?
The dominant word you’ll often hear in regards to a KDS is “efficiency.” We’ve used it multiple times here already! It’s a bit of a broad term though, with many different applications for a restaurant operator. We can break this down a bit further.
A kitchen display system helps you with the following.
Many operators who use a KDS describe a feeling that the system removes “the guesswork” from the order process. When the KDS integrates with your point-of-sale system, your staff receives the orders, to a specific screen, in real-time. When a staff member finishes their part of the order, they can pass it on to the next station, removing it from their screen to avoid clutter and confusion. There’s never any point where your staff has to wonder where a food item is in the process, so even at your busiest, orders won’t get buried in the flow or simply lost.
Create Calmer Kitchens and Reduce Bottlenecks
With automated processes, you significantly reduce the clamor and noise in your kitchen. Your staff won’t need to scream over each other as orders come in from the front, and as mentioned earlier, everyone can maintain cognizance of one another. Don’t underestimate this dynamic either: The Darwin Brasserie cites the calmness that a KDS brings to their kitchen as an indispensable component of their success.
This feature of a KDS substantially helps in streamlining your workload. It means that the system will keep a “record” of each “milestone” in the order process. Furthermore, a good one will be able to automate your orders so that various food items, no matter their prep times, finish simultaneously.
For example, if you’ve got chicken and a salad in the same order, the KDS would prompt the chicken to start cooking first, and then the side item later, so they finish at the same time, and guests receive fresh food. These KDS features significantly cut down on food waste from food sitting in the delivery window, which impacts the overall quality of the meal, as well as your bottom line.
Lower Ticket Times and Increase Revenue
A KDS helps you shave time off all your kitchen processes, helping you turn more orders and seat more guests. When the folks at Walk-On’s Bistreaux and Bar turned away from tickets and implemented a KDS, they saw a 50% reduction in ticket times. The added time allowed them to process many more orders and ultimately, create happier guests and more revenue.
Maintain Quality and Training Standards
A KDS helps standardize your processes across the board, whether in one restaurant site or multiple. Using intuitive software, video and graphical displays, the technology ensures that every member of your staff receives the exact same, practical training in your kitchen. This saves you time and energy when onboarding new staff or bringing existing staff up to speed. From a food quality standpoint, you also ensure consistency among staff and even across sites. Furthermore, certain kitchen systems will utilize a recipe viewer. Should a member of your staff ever need a refresher on a certain dish, they can access the recipe, on the spot.
Establish an Off-Premise Dining Strategy
In today’s restaurant landscape, it’s not a matter of if but how you should be creating an off-premise dining strategy. Technology, especially a KDS, is essential to making this work. Integrated with your POS, the KDS will receive these orders as it would walk-ins, seamlessly blending them into your workflow. If you seek a KDS with capacity management features, it will “read” your kitchen bandwidth and quote them with an accurate pickup time to reflect it. When you’re busy, the quoted time is longer, to account. Neither off-premise or walk-in guests have to wait for their meal, and everything runs with total precision.
Perform Restaurant Analytics
When you work with technology, you’re essentially creating a record of every single process that happens in your restaurant. A good KDS will have accessible restaurant data and reporting features that showcase historical metrics like your average speed of service, cook times, and other pertinent performance data. These reports help you accurately pinpoint problems and chokepoints, and remedy them. For example, you may be able to identify a staffing shortage by looking for anomalies in the report.
How QSR Can Help
In the last 20-plus years, QSR Automations has worked hard to become the worldwide leader in Kitchen Display Systems. Learn more today.
Want to get the scoop on everything restaurant tech, marketing, industry news, and more? We got you covered. Subscribe to our award-winning blog to get weekly updates on the most buzzworthy restaurant industry topics.
About the Author
Emily Elder was a Content & Social Media Specialist at QSR Automations. Emily was born and raised in Louisville, but considers herself a die-hard University of Kentucky fan. For college, Emily attended Indiana University Southeast and obtained a degree in Communications with a track in Advertising. In her free time, Emily enjoys just about every water related activity, but she is partial to kayaking and whitewater rafting.