Kitchen Display System (KDS) – Technology for the Busiest Restaurant Kitchens

Still using KOTs at your restaurant?

What if we gave you a viable alternative that would do away with the manual process of printing and forwarding orders to the kitchen? Imagine if you could connect the kitchen to your front-of-house. And shoot kitchen order tickets directly to the kitchen, as you take orders. Enter a Kitchen Display System!

The Kitchen Display System is a setup that digitizes the order taking-to-KOT process. Placed in the kitchen of a restaurant, it provides order updates to the staff and management. But its role does not end there.

In this article, we will drill down on all the features of a KDS and the business benefits they offer to a restaurant. This should also serve as a checklist to ensure that you buy one that is right for your restaurant.

kitchen display systemsFeatures of a Kitchen Display System

When you go looking for a Kitchen Display System, you should have a list of all that the software must haves. That’ll help you conduct your research and finalise one for your restaurant.  A standard KDS should have the following features

Course Manager

Course managers allow you to group course items together. Items can be grouped in buckets such as drinks, desserts, routine table service and so forth. How does it work then?

Let’s illustrate through an example.

Say you have 6 active tables and 3 have placed orders for desserts. In the usual scenario, waiters will go individually inform the kitchen or maybe have individual KOTs made for the orders. With the Course manager feature of a KDS, the screen will populate all the 3 tables which have ordered desserts. This will allow you to send the items in one bucket, instead of individually resulting in more timely delivery of orders. To make the process better, you may want to create rules and instances based on order timing, items and so on.

Meal pacing and Cook times

A Kitchen Display System provides intelligence to the kitchen about item cook times and the time by which the orders must reach the customer. Items which need lesser time to be prepared can be delayed (this is also known as the delayed routing feature of the KDS). You must make sure to upload all the cook time data so that the KDS can alert you and help you plan accordingly. When all the cook times are synced into your KDS, meal preparation times can be optimised accordingly. This ensures that the meals are served fresh and hot to the customer. This comes in particularly handy when different items in a meal have different cook times and they must all be served together.

Wouldn’t it be weird if particular items in the meal are served cold just because they go prepared before the other items?

Recipe view

Recipe view is a feature of the Kitchen Display System which gives the kitchen access to recipes and other training manuals. If you want your chefs to follow some guidelines, you could upload the recipe (with videos and images), onto the KDS. Recipes can be saved and searched by the staff easily.

Routing to kitchen sections

Your kitchen will have various sections and the items need to be moved into the correct sections. Your KDS helps you direct the food items in the relevant kitchen spots. An average kitchen has sections such as the grill, the fryer, the pantry or bar (although technically not the kitchen).

Integrated with POS?

POS is a basic software investment you make as you scale of your restaurant. When you decide to go for your Kitchen Display System, make sure to check that it integrates with your POS. If you are planning on an upgrade of your POS do ensure that the KDS you decide to go in for, is robust enough to support the integration.

Make sure to check that the Kitchen Display System can be configured (or integrated) to your POS before buying one!

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Must have features and benefits of a Kitchen Display System

Business Benefits of a Kitchen Display System

Contrary to what the name suggests, the role of a Kitchen Display System is not just restricted to providing your backend with a view of the orders. KDS systems offer a large number of benefits to your business.

More convenience for your staff

When updates display on the screen, all the members of the kitchen can access the order information simultaneously. In the conventional set-up, you expect that one person calls out the order detail and the restaurant staff then prepares the meal. Instead, the display shows all the upcoming orders, completed orders and other data which might help your kitchen staff run a tight service.

Cooks in the kitchen

Displays information more effectively

When multiple orders are placed simultaneously during peak hours, you would need to prioritise. Your Kitchen Display System, in this circumstance, will neatly segregate pending orders, new orders and alert you on orders which need your immediate attention. It acts as a manager to the staff, helping them be on their toes and plan their activities better.

Faster order processing and lower customer wait time

A Kitchen Display System facilitates order optimisation. By better order optimisation, we mean all the metrics that are critical for operational excellence (like customer wait time, table flip time). But how? Consider a simple example.

Without a Kitchen Display System

Say you do not have a Kitchen Display System. You might be using the KOTs to forward orders to the kitchen. Say you get 5 different orders in the space of 5 minutes. A manager has to be present to ensure order optimisation. He directs his team to work on specific items. The drawback of this is that there is a high dependency on the manager for optimising the cook time. Also, there is a high likelihood of human error that cannot be done away with. Added to that, if the manager is not present at any given point of time, the process might be chaotic and tedious. In the worst case scenario the total time spent by staff = Time taken to prepare one meal * 5.

With a Kitchen Display System

On the flip side, say you have a Kitchen Display System and you receive the same 5 orders in the space of 5 minutes. The KDS will stack the tickets and helps optimise the process of preparing the meals. By better visualizing the order information and categorizing them in meaningful ways. For starters, the KDS will arrange the orders according to the time they arrived. This helps the cook know which orders to serve first. Say the 5 meals are standard burgers – each having a bun, a patty, an egg, a slice of cheese and some toppings. The cook could then look at the KDS screen and decide to cook all the separate parts in batches. Like all 5 patties or eggs in a batch. This takes lesser time than cooking each part individually, as you can imagine. The Kitchen Display System will also forecast the time to finish the meal preparation. Total time taken by the kitchen, in this case, would be significantly lower of course.

Greater convenience in receiving order updates trickles down to the end customer. As the backend order receiving process is now largely simplified and easy to manage, the kitchen is able to bring down the time for order preparation. Customers then also get their orders quickly. This aids both the operations process and customer experience.

Tip – Check on key metrics such as table flip time, order preparation time, customer wait time to effectively track your operations. To get a full list of metrics you can track at your restaurant, check out Restaurant Analytics to power your Restaurant management system

Inventory Management

A POS linked Kitchen Display System helps you manage your inventory better. They help monitor order numbers, keeps track of the inventory numbers and alerts you whenever the inventory goes below the threshold levels. This allows you to be in the loop in case of shortfalls and you are able to pre-plan better.

To sync in your Kitchen Display System and POS to your inventory goals, it may be a good idea to set the rules for minimum levels of all your stock.

If you are new to inventory management or wish to finetune your strategy, you may want to check out our Tips on Managing Inventory better

Source of data & intelligence

A Kitchen Display System, when linked to your POS, gives you added levels of intelligence about your restaurant’s performance. It can throw up information on current orders, past orders, top items ordered, daily performance updates and so on. KDS allows you to track the order time, estimated time to prepare a meal. This information helps the management understand operational limitations and take decisions. Data on the number of orders a day and time taken to process each order is important as it allows monitoring key metrics such as resource stress, operational efficiency and other key metrics that are a part of the restaurant analytics system.

Staff Training

The Kitchen Display System being a display screen also allows the staff to be trained on various kitchen modules – like new recipes, new cooking techniques, management videos, latest kitchen trends and the likes. You can upload all kinds of videos and images onto your KDS so that they can be easily accessed by your staff. It allows quick in-house training (thereby lowering training costs) and brings the whole team up to speed with the expectations you set out for them.

Kitchen staff training

No extra costs for printing

A Kitchen Display System will also help you save on the paper printing costs in the longer run.

Summing up

Hope this gave you a perspective on how useful a Kitchen Display System is for your restaurant. When you go looking for one that is the correct fit for your restaurant, do keep in mind all the features that you should expect. And if you already have one, make sure to use it to its full capacity.

And don’t forget, reducing the use of paper at your restaurant is friendlier for the environment.


Aditya Sarkar

Aditya Sarkar

Aditya Sarkar is a Marketing Manager at LimeTray. When he isn't being a Marketer, he likes solo-travelling, playing all kinds of sports and chilling out with friends! He's reachable at