Chairman & Executive Director
HKPC Executive Director
Two 50-year-old men started two industrial revolutions…….
In 1770, British inventor Hargreaves James took out a patent on the Spinning Jenny, a multi-spindle spinning frame that enabled a worker to work eight spools at one time, and raised the curtain for the first industrial revolution.
In 1913, US industrialist Henry Ford introduced the assembly line technique of mass production, cutting the time for fabricating a car from 12 hours to only 90 minutes, and laid the foundation for the Ford Motor kingdom. It also became an important milestone of the second industrial revolution.
Both James and Ford were 50 at the time.
In 2017, as the fourth industrial revolution is taking the world by storm, the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) has gone through 50 years of ups and downs with Hong Kong industries. Driving the continuous development of HKPC over the past half century is the spirit of innovation and improvement, enabling it to take the helm to effect changes in local industries.
Productivity Creates Value
Hong Kong’s evolution from an entrepot to an industrial centre in the 1960s gave birth to a wave of small and medium-sized manufacturers that needed comprehensive support. Subsequently, the Government set up the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and Hong Kong Export Credit Insurance Corporation in 1966 to offer support on trade promotion and export trade credit risk management. A year later, HKPC was established by statue with the aim to improve the productivity, operation efficiency and competitiveness of the industry through technical support, consultancy services and productivity skills training.
In the beginning, “productivity” was an alien concept to local businesses. In simple terms, promoting productivity means to do more with less, while raising productivity refers to increasing the output or the value with the same amount of resources input. Developing innovative technologies, improving business management, and raising the quality of human resources are some examples on how to achieve this goal.
However, rapid economic development brought damages to the environment; and corporate governance shortfalls led to the global financial crisis. The concept of productivity has changed from solely raising the value of output to emphasizing how best to use resources to create economic, social and environmental values for all stakeholders.
At the World Productivity Congress in South Africa in 2008, the World Confederation of Productivity Science launched the concept of social, environmental and economic productivity that organizations, nations and regions need to ensure their operations to be socially equitable, environmentally bearable and economically viable while improving their productivity.
A Clear and Dedicated Support Platform
Improving productivity is the top priority in promoting sustainable development in countries and regions. In driving their growth, however, enterprises have no spare capacity to look after the long-term development of the whole industry, not to mention SMEs’ lack of resources to improve productivity. Since the 1950s, leveraging resources from both public and private sectors, statutory organizations driving the productivity movement have been set up across Asia to provide a clear and dedicated support platform to lift the hurdles in improving national and regional productivity.
A review into the work of HKPC in the past 50 years reveals that productivity organizations fulfil three important roles, namely:
1. Capacity building: equipping enterprises and the industry with the necessary capabilities to improve productivity through support services such as applied R&D, technology transfer, consultancy, training and shared technical facilities. Productivity organizations must serve as pioneers in offering technologies, talent, facilities and services that are not effectively available in the market;
2. Stakeholder co-ordination: acting as a bridge between the industry and the Government by reflecting the needs of industry, and implementing policy programmes to support businesses; conducting industry studies on the current situation and challenges of the industries with recommendations and support solutions; forming industry or trade associations to promote emerging sectors; and
3. Catalyzing changes: raising public and industry concern and awareness on productivity enhancement through public and industry promotion, study missions, industry award schemes, etc.
Benchmarking the three major roles of productivity organizations, HKPC formulated three strategic directions:
1. Collaborating with Stakeholders
To effectively implement industry support services, HKPC must work closely with the stakeholders. The industry consultation platform, “Hong Kong Industry Network Clusters” (HK-INC), is established by HKPC to hold regular consultation meetings to gauge the views of the industry on their development for incorporation into timely support services. HKPC’s professional consultants also participated extensively in trade associations and related organizations to jointly implement various industry development projects, for example, funding projects of the SME Development Fund; in order to strengthen the competitiveness of SMEs in areas such as quality, management, innovation and market development.
2. Focusing on Areas of Excellence
In order to provide effective solutions to the industry, HKPC has kept strengthening its competence over the years to maintain its technology edge. For example, HKPC’s consultants have been accredited by the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology (IPT) of Germany as certified “Industry 4.0” (i4.0) trainer and consultant in 2016. We would seek other IPT accreditations to support more industries to attain the i4.0 standard. On the other hand, HKPC has constantly upgraded its hardware facilities. For instance, the 3D Printing One support centre will welcome the addition of the Titanium 3D printing system to facilitate the production of titanium parts in high value products.
3. Scaling up Platforms
For one single organization to meet the diverse needs of the industry is almost impossible. HKPC has actively initiated platform-type support models to bundle resources of the public and private sectors to jointly serve the different needs of businesses. SME One was set up in 2012 to offer one-stop information support for local SMEs to utilize the variety of support and funding schemes available in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta region to overcome problems encountered at different stages of their development.
Forward-Looking and Pragmatic
Over the past 50 years, HKPC has been taking a pragmatic and forward-looking approach, and keeping pace with the times to address the need of enterprises for industrial restructuring. As early as the 1970s, we have set up the Low-Cost Automation Unit to provide automation solutions to local manufacturers. During 1980s, we promoted Total Quality Management and developed computer-aided design solutions for various sectors. While environmental protection was still a novice concept to the business sector, we have already rendered environmental management consultancy services to drive green productivity.
Into the 1990s, HKPC was the first to launch consultancy services on ISO 9000 quality management system in Hong Kong and successfully helped many local companies obtain ISO 9000 certification. While 3D printing is all the rage not until recent years, we have already set up Hong Kong’s first rapid prototyping technology centre back in 1995. In late-1990s, envisioning that the automotive industry could raise the competitiveness of an array of Hong Kong industries, we launched pilot programmes to study ways for local businesses to enter the automotive parts and accessory systems market.
In the 21st century, the fourth industrial revolution which affects every company in the world has reached our doorsteps. Although Hong Kong industry is not immune to this severe challenge, it offers unlimited business opportunities. Since its establishment in 1967, HKPC has forged a partnership with Hong Kong businesses big and small, offering all-round support. We have witnessed and were part and parcel of the economic miracle of Hong Kong. Looking ahead, HKPC will spare no effort to launch more innovative technologies and services, and lead the Hong Kong industry towards the new era of smart manufacturing and smart city.
Confucius once said, “At fifty, I knew the decrees of Heavens.” This does not mean we should just sit back and let fate run its course. In the contrary, we should be courageous in facing constraints, recognize our mission in life, do our utmost to forge ahead, and smartly create our future!
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