Entry standards up despite tough times
Last year was tough for businesses in Hong Kong and companies had fewer product innovations, but that was not evident in the number of entries submitted for the Hong Kong Awards for Industries (HKAI) 2009, which increased from the previous year.
The organisers of the awards received a total of 264 entries for the seven categories, compared with 245 entries for 2008.
According to Paul Leung, chief executive of the Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong (CMA), the event organiser of this year's award ceremony, the total number of winners was also more than last year's indicating that the standard of this year's competition remained high.
In all, six entries were awarded the Grand Award, 25 companies won awards and 37 firms were given Certificates of Merit.
Leung, who was in the judging panel for Machinery and Machine Tools Design category, says the quality of entries was high even though this sector faced a tough economic climate.
The export of machinery and equipment in the first quarter of last year dropped 42.9 per cent compared with the same period in 2008.
Although accumulated exports for the first three quarters of last year caught up there was still a 20 per cent decrease in export numbers compared with the same period in 2008.
'Manufacturers realise the importance of putting effort into R&D [research and development] to improve competitiveness in order to survive during recession,' Leung says.
The final judging panel was divided into three groups with the judging for customer service, environmental performance, innovation and creativity, productivity and quality and technological achievement done by one set of judges.
The second group of judges picked up winners for Consumer Product Design and the last group of judges picked winners for Machinery and Machinery Tools Design.
The selection criteria for the grand award winner for Machinery and Machinery Tools Design, was based on the product's innovation, application of technology, functionality, ergonomics, cost-performance, environmental impact and marketability, Leung says.
'Our grand award winner, Green Pad Printing System, demonstrated good performance in the above aspects,' Leung says. Kent Printing's Green Pad Design System includes a number of unique features which work together for an environmentally friendly pad printing process.
The new features include the patented sealed ink-cup design, a laser-engraving machine and the application of ultraviolet ink technology.
According to the judges, the product reduces the use of solvent and other chemicals, while it cuts operational costs and is efficient to use.
Leung says that a big challenge for the judging panel was to compare the products from different fields, such as comparing a huge production machine with computer software.
'Especially when it comes to awarding the grand award winner for which we can only select one among many entries,' he says.
The HKAI is an annual competition run by independent trade and industrial organisations.
The Federation of Hong Kong Industries is responsible for the Consumer Product Design category; the Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong for the Machinery and Machine Tools Design category; the Hong Kong Retail Management Association for the Customer Service category; the Business Environment Council for the Environmental Performance category; the Hong Kong Productivity Council for the Productivity and Quality category and Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks for the Technological Achievement.