(Hong Kong, 11 April 2022) With more emphasis on a healthy lifestyle, fresh vegetable juice has become a new diet trend. The Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) recently signed a cooperation agreement with 2 Plus 3 (HK) Industrial Company Limited (“2+3”) to set up Hong Kong’s first intelligent production line for fresh corn juice, which will greatly enhance the production capacity and product quality to cope with the growing market demand. This project has also successfully applied for the Re-industrialisation Funding Scheme of the Innovation and Technology Commission of the HKSAR Government, and received funding support amounting to one-third of the total project expenditure. It is expected to be put into operation in mid-2023.
Ms Chau Kin-wa, founder of “2+3” and also known as “Corn Mama”, was a farmer when she was a child and often drank corn juice specially made by her mother. As such, corn juice has been a part of her childhood memory. In 2010, “Corn Mama” decided to establish the corn juice brand “2+3” in Hong Kong, insisting on producing natural, healthy and preservative-free corn juice. However, it did not go according to plan in the beginning as she lost over $1 million during the machinery procurement process. Afterwards, she restructured her business and entrusted it to her children. In recent years, the brand has become more recognisable and well-supported by the public, and its products are available in many supermarkets and chain convenience stores.
With the increase in brand awareness, the existing production system is close to saturation with demand exceeding supply. Hence, “2+3” sought the assistance of HKPC, hoping to establish an intelligent production line to improve production capacity and product stability, so as to tap into the enormous overseas market. Through its Industry 4.0 (i4.0) experts and advanced manufacturing technology, HKPC offers “one-stop” comprehensive technical support for its clients, providing a series of intelligent upgrade solutions such as feasibility studies, factory layout and production line design, etc., and improving product traceability and predictability with real-time system monitoring and collection of data for analysis.
Mr Chan Ka-san, Director of “2+3”, said, “The company is currently targeting to Hong Kong market, producing about 8,000 bottles of corn juice per week. We hope to expand our products to neighbouring cities and even overseas markets, but this has been limited by production capacity and shelf life. The intelligent production line can effectively solve the above pain points. In addition to significantly raising the production capacity, it also improves the sterilisation process. The sterilisation parameters such as temperature, pressure, time, etc. are collected and monitored by intelligent sensors, which not only prolongs the life of the machine, but also ensures the reliability and stability of sterilisation and improves product quality and safety. Without the use of additives and preservatives, it is expected that the shelf life can be extended effectively.”
Mr Edmond Lai, Chief Digital Officer of HKPC, said, “There are many brands full of human touch in Hong Kong, which often become obsolete with the changing times. HKPC is committed to helping Hong Kong brands keep pace with the times and create value through the advanced technology of i4.0. This can help preserve the traditional favour and enhance production capacity and competitiveness through intelligent manufacturing, thereby ensuring the food safety standard, and strengthening the confidence of the international market in the ‘Made in Hong Kong’ brands. In addition, with big data being the future business trend, the use of technologies such as sensors, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence will transform all walks of life. They will not only simplify production processes and establish predictive maintenance, but also enable product development and analysis based on the data collected, and reduce costs in the long run, bringing benefits for sustainable business development.”
At present, the food and beverage manufacturing industry in Hong Kong is facing a shortage of manpower and the problem of succession as young people are put off by traditional routine and labour-intensive jobs. Intelligent production line can lead to significant improvement in the workplace environment, more high-tech jobs, and shorter working hours, which can help attract technology talent and inject new impetus into the industry. HKPC will continue to cooperate with the Government to strengthen co-operation among the Government, industry, academia and research sectors, promote the development of high value-added industries in Hong Kong in terms of technology, talent and capital, and support Hong Kong to become an international innovation and technology centre.
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