Kitchen Display Systems; How do they Work in a Table Service Environment?

By: Peter Goodwin

Whilst commonly used in the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) market to improve speed of service and control waste, the Kitchen Display System (KDS) can also improve the quality of service in cafes and restaurants.

Here are some features and benefits of the KDS when implemented in a table service environment.



So how does a KDS system fit into and replace a printer based kitchen operation?

Think of each of your kitchen printers being replaced with a KDS (a monitor and either a touchscreen or bump bar).  The KDS will display all the orders that are coming in and sequence them in your preferred way (time, time by course, rush orders etc).

No more docket rack and no more confusion!


When an order is entered into the POS by the wait staff it is displayed on the monitor rather than printed to a docket. The next order is fired and displayed next to the first; and so on.  Depending on the screen and order sizes there can be up to 8 orders on the screen at once and the bump bar or touchscreen can be used to scroll to additional orders.

As items are completed, the chef simply highlights them as done allowing the kitchen to focus on the next.


Changes to orders with a paper based system mean:

  • Secondary dockets that need to be attached to the original
  • Or, hand written notes on the original dockets

A KDS will simply show a ‘canceled’ sign on the old item and the new item will be inserted in its place. Colours can be used to highlight this in a more dramatic way so there is never any kitchen confusion.



Alerts are designed so that the kitchen can focus on orders that are reaching their pre-determined service time limit. There are typically two different types of alerts:

  1. Yellow alert– a first level alert to warn the kitchen that the pre-determined service time limit is approaching
  2. Red alert – a second level alert indicating that the pre-determined service time limit has been exceeded and the order needs to be completed as soon as possible

Process integration

In larger kitchens where there are separate prep areas for cold and hot items, a KDS in each area, can ensure the two sections operate seamlessly together. The ‘Cold KDS’ may only display the cold items, while the ‘Hot KDS’ might display all items so the ‘Hot’ chef can see what else is needed to compete the entire order and prompt the food off the pass.


There are a large number of service level reports available from your KDS that monitor your kitchen staffs KPIs. For example:

  • How many times Yellow or Red alerts were reached?
  • Average time from order to completion

Service level reports offer valuable information that can be used for making informed decisions about your operation.


Yes, KDS systems are more expensive than a Kitchen Printer to purchase.  However over time how much paper do you consume and at what cost?  Having better controls and a more productive kitchen team with fewer mistakes will quickly see a return on investment that will greatly exceed that of your kitchen printer.

Find out more about what MICROS can do for you! For more information contact us at Phone: 866.287.4736 (US and Canada)

3 thoughts on “Kitchen Display Systems; How do they Work in a Table Service Environment?

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    July 17, 2012 at 7:47 pm

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