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HKPC Builds the First “Rebar Friction Welding Smart Production Line” Fostering the Smartification of Prefabricated Components in the Construction Industry Addressing Building Safety and Manpower Shortage Issues

(Hong Kong, 21 February 2022) The Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) is committed to helping Hong Kong industries boost productivity and competitiveness with the adoption of Industry 4.0 (i4.0) advanced manufacturing technologies. HKPC is delighted to announce the signing of a collaboration agreement today with a local architectural engineering company named So Li Ah Company Limited (So Li Ah) to commission HKPC for the design and development of the first-ever “Rebar Friction Welding Smart Production Line” in the local construction industry. The production line will not only support Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government’s policies on promoting prefabrication in the construction industry, but also reduce on-site manpower, construction costs and risks caused by project delays, enable higher flexibility in allocation of resources, as well as improve the safety and quality of construction projects. This project has successfully applied for “Reindustrialisation Funding Scheme” launched by the Innovation and Technology Commission of the HKSAR Government, receiving a subsidy of one-third of the total project expenditure (about HK$4.9 million).

Currently, the local construction industry market requires about 3 million of rebar coupler installations every year, mainly relying on workers to carry out on-site installation. Due to the huge workload, environment constraints and difference of work experience of the workers, the product quality cannot be guaranteed, causing problems such as structural safety of the buildings. In view of the issues, Si Li Ah has invited HKPC to tailor-make the “Rebar Friction Welding Smart Production Line” that meets construction site standards and addresses the company’s operational needs and pain points, leveraging intelligent factory to prefabricate components and improve the quality of building components and supply stability, thus resolving pressing problems of aging workforce and manpower shortage in Hong Kong’s construction industry.

Mr Edmond Lai, Chief Digital Officer of HKPC, said, “HKPC understands the construction industry's pursuit of high-quality products and advanced technologies, and has been actively providing ‘one-stop’ comprehensive support to optimise the production process, enhance production capacity, operational safety and product quality for the industry. The collaboration between HKPC and So Li Ah can be described as ‘win-win cooperation’. With more than 20 years of local steel reinforcement engineering experience, So Li Ah has undertaken a number of large-scale construction projects in Hong Kong, while HKPC, with the profound experience and expertise in i4.0 technologies, has demonstrated how to integrate advanced technologies such as industrial internet of things (IIoT), machine automation and real-time logistics tracking into the construction industry, realising data management and intelligent manufacturing. HKPC hopes that the project will serve as a reference for the construction industry, promoting smartification of the industry and creating employment opportunities for high-tech talents, thus leading Hong Kong's construction industry towards high value-added development.”

Mr Kwok Mok Shui, Director of So Li Ah, said, “The construction industry has been promoting the use of prefabricated components to improve occupational safety, and health and workload of workers at the construction site. HKPC’s team has listened carefully to our needs and enabled our workers to monitor the real-time status of the production line in an all-round manner, ensuring the quality and compliance of prefabricated components in various processes relating to raw materials, processing, transportation, and delivery. It has greatly improved our production capacity by 8 to 9 times, with an estimated daily output of up to 4,200 pieces. The real-time data can also support predictive maintenance of machines, avoiding the risk of unexpected downtime and relevant financial losses, thus reducing overall production costs by 30%. HKPC has also arranged i4.0 training for our employees, educating them with smart innovation concepts and data analytic skills for analysing and improving the solutions for enterprises and production lines. We are very confident in this project and look forward to its completion by early 2024. We believe that it will be a significant milestone for the industry.”

The plant and workshop area of this project is expected to exceed 30,000 square feet. The “Rebar Friction Welding Smart Production Line" can flexibly weld different types of couplers according to the market demand. The prefabricated components produced are mainly supplied to the local market for construction purposes, supporting the HKSAR Government’s policies to promote the adoption of prefabricated steel rebar components in the construction industry.

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HKPC announced the collaboration today with a local architectural engineering company named So Li Ah Company Limited to commission HKPC for the design and development of the first “Rebar Friction Welding Smart Production Line”, replacing the current manpower required for on-site installation. Mr Edmond Lai, Chief Digital Officer of HKPC (left), and Mr Kwok Mok Shui, Director of So Li Ah Company Limited (right) signed the collaboration agreement today.HKPC announced the collaboration today with a local architectural engineering company named So Li Ah Company Limited to commission HKPC for the design and development of the first “Rebar Friction Welding Smart Production Line”, replacing the current manpower required for on-site installation. Mr Edmond Lai, Chief Digital Officer of HKPC (left), and Mr Kwok Mok Shui, Director of So Li Ah Company Limited (right) signed the collaboration agreement today.

The local construction industry market requires about 3 million of rebar coupler installations every year, while the “Rebar Friction Welding Smart Production Line” can greatly improve the production capacity by 8 to 9 times.The local construction industry market requires about 3 million of rebar coupler installations every year, while the “Rebar Friction Welding Smart Production Line” can greatly improve the production capacity by 8 to 9 times.

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