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HKPC Commissioned to Develop Intelligent Production Lines

Image Credits: HKPC, Press Release

The Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) recently announced the signing of a collaboration agreement; a leading global provider of network security has commissioned HKPC as Industry 4.0 (i4.0) technical consultants to design and build four intelligent production lines for prefabricated steel reinforcing bar (rebar) parts.

The lines are aimed at meeting the local market demand for increased production and quality improvement of steel products, and simultaneously solve the shortage of skilled workers and land use. The project has also successfully applied for the Re-industrialisation Funding Scheme of the Innovation and Technology Commission of the HKSAR Government, receiving a subsidy of about HK$3.9 million.

In recent years, Hong Kong’s bar bending and fixing trade have faced several challenges. For example, the ageing population of skilled workers. In addition to the slower rate of adoption of advanced construction technologies, there are also the issues of rebar quality and work-related accidents one has to contend with. Currently, there are only four approved off-site rebar prefabrication yards in Hong Kong, which can only meet 11% of the total rebar demand.

Considering these issues and the market’s ardent demand for increased production of prefabricated rebar parts, the tech firm sought out HKPC’s assistance in providing tailored technologies and professional support to address its pain points and needs. This includes focusing on its request to produce small-sized prefabricated rebar parts with a diameter of usually less than 16 millimetres. From finding a suitable production site to designing the new intelligent production lines, HKPC not only meets the demand of the firm but also supports the current development direction of the HKSAR Government to promote the off-site production of prefabricated rebar parts.

HKPC will provide a one-stop service for the tech firm, from the layout of the production plant; the design and set up of data collection and network security topography, production equipment specifications, digital system and peripheral equipment specifications; construction of industrial Internet for equipment connection; assembling production lines; setting up data visualisation systems and production operation dashboards; establishing mechanical intelligent auxiliary systems; to a series of enterprise digital integration systems related to intelligent manufacturing, enabling the company to achieve the intelligent production of rebar precast parts.

HKPC will develop the layout of the intelligent production lines according to the firm’s factory environment and its management expectation of production needs. With lean production as its goal, HKPC will consider factors such as the dimensions of existing and to-be-purchased equipment, work and material flow, safe operating areas, environmental hygiene, noise and safety requirements, and optimise the production process of rebar precast parts without affecting other processes and with minimal moving distance, to reduce the occurrence of crossover and reverse flow.

HKPC will also formulate an intelligent production line upgrade plan to achieve the real-time generation and provision of data and information for all operations based on Ii4.0) standards. A digital enterprise operating system will also be established. It will employ a digital order management system and an internal logistics tracking system for the digitalisation of sales order management, keeping tabs on management to delivery, and tracking the production progress and delivery status of the orders.

The company will enabled to obtain real-time tracking information and related customer information on all process handovers, material out/inbound and production quality records to achieve remote monitoring of production, paperless operation and descriptive data analysis, thereby leading to significant increases in both efficiency and production capacity. In addition, HKPC will provide i4.0 technical and operation training for STGL management to familiarise themselves with real-time tracking of production status and remote monitoring of production lines.

The Chief Executive of HKPC stated that by leveraging the advanced technologies of i4.0 such as sensors, data analysis, the Internet, advanced human-machine interface, robots, image processing, artificial intelligence and other technologies, the production and operation pain points and achieve upgrading, transformation and intelligent manufacturing will be addressed.

The HKPC CE added that the introduction of intelligent production in the bar bending and fixing industry is expected to further promote the large-scale development of Modular Integrated Construction (MIC) in Hong Kong, and serve as a model for other trades in the construction industry. Concurrently, the accuracy, quality and safety of building structures are expected to be improved, providing and stabilising Hong Kong’s future huge demand for prefabricated rebar products in basic infrastructure and public housing, as well as nurturing mid-to-high-end talents and creating new job opportunities.

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