Ready Mixed Concrete (HK) has received a 1996 Industry Department Quality Award and a 1996 Hong Kong Productivity Council Productivity Award. The company is part of Anderson Asia (Holdings), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings. Managing director Chow Tsun-wing said: 'Improved quality and productivity are essential tools to surviving under the pressures of the demanding Hong Kong concrete market. 'RMC is the market leader and continues to build its market share for quality and super performance concrete. 'In order to ensure our leading edge, there has to be a demonstrated commitment to total quality management, total customer service, total teamwork and new technology.' Ready Mixed Concrete (RMC) won the awards based on its innovative approach to its business. Key factors in the company's success have been management capability, product development, quality assurance and delivery. The company began operations in 1976, specialising in the development, production and delivery of ready-mixed concrete. The supply of such concrete is time-sensitive by nature - the product has a shelf life of just two hours and involves bulk transport. RMC has eight batching plants in Hong Kong that can back each other up within an eight-kilometre radius. The network of plants means the company can operate just-in-time production, an important edge in the industry. Four plants have sea-front access, allowing barge delivery of raw materials. This avoids traffic delays and increases deliveries. RMC outputs more than two million cubic metres of concrete per year. All RMC plants have obtained ISO 9001 and the group's central laboratory, Concrete Services, is accredited by the Hong Kong Laboratory Accreditation Scheme. The company's focus on improving the quality of concrete used in Hong Kong buildings has been of great benefit to property developers. By using the super strong concrete, they can reduce the size of supporting concrete columns, maximising the amount of usable floor space. RMC has also been active in training architects, engineers, consultants, contractors and developers. Product development is carried out close to customer requirements. Customers give their concrete specifications to RMC sales executives, who consult the technical department to determine the appropriate mix design to meet the job specifications. 'The relationship with our customers is on more than a sales basis,' Mr Chow said. 'It is built on a level of common interest.' RMC advises customers on the best concrete mix for their project and trains customer technicians on the proper techniques of making concrete cubes for analysis and carrying out slump tests. Much of the new technology RMC has introduced to Hong Kong has been imported and refined to suit local conditions. Latest innovations at RMC include the new high-efficiency slurry blender and concrete reclaiming system. This environmentally friendly system cuts down on wastage and lowers production costs. Since 1985, RMC has used computer-integrated manufacturing to monitor and control its production process. RMC was the first company in Hong Kong to use wet-mix plants and a slurry blender to produce homogeneous concrete. When the wet-mix plant began operation in 1991, it was the first application of computers in the manufacturing process. The wet-mix system involves the weighed raw materials being mixed in a twin-axle mixer before being transferred to the truck's mixer drum - a system that offers benefits in efficiency, quality and reliability. Production cycle times throughout the process are studied regularly to identify bottleneck areas and points where improvement is needed.