A ROBOT THAT cleans buildings, a 'new generation' of flying toy, a self-reading gas meter and an innovative construction method are among the winners of this year's Organiser Awards. Construction company Gam-mon Skanska received two awards for excellence across its whole business. The company, which won the Trade and Industry Department Quality Award and the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Technological Achievement Award, presented its pre-cast and modular construction techniques as an example of its technology. Director Derek Smyth says the awards are an important measure of the company's in-house performance and its status within the industry. 'What drives quality today is continuous improvement. If you do not set market leadership benchmarks and targets, you cannot take the company forward. For staff, winning an award is a strong morale boost, especially in difficult times. 'These awards recognise that achievements are not gained by any particular section of the organisation. It is working together that makes the difference, across all aspects of the business. We would not be winning a quality award without the team being in the field on a day-to-day basis, determined to carry out quality work on site. We would not be winning a technology award without the many innovations, sometimes small, sometimes at corporate level, that are an ongoing part of our business culture. 'Winning an award also encourages staff to stretch themselves.' Mr Smyth says Hong Kong is striving to be a world-class city, but it cannot stay ahead by depending on any single sector - success results from a broad-based effort. 'In the construction industry, we have to look at world best practice and apply it to Hong Kong if we are to maintain our position as a competitive, first-rate city.' City University of Hong Kong received the CMA Machinery and Equipment Design Award for its Cleanbot service robots, used in cleaning and maintenance of high-rise buildings. Taking into account that most buildings are a one-off design and come in a variety of shapes and sizes, the company developed three 'climbing robots' to cope with the wide diversity in building structures, says senior engineer Bing L. Luk. 'Although Cleanbot robots are quite different in their mechanical designs, they share common technologies that include state-of-the-art computer control, advanced sensor technology, vacuum gripper design, mechatronics and teleoperation technology.' All three robots can climb vertical surfaces and carry cleaning or inspection tools, depending on the job required. The human operator can stay in a safe place to operate the robot remotely. In the case of simple building structures, the operator can even programme the robot to perform the tasks automatically. They can also operate on projected walls and non-vertical walls, which the commercial gondola systems for carrying human workers cannot handle. A labour-free system would simplify the cleaning and maintenance process and improve productivity, Dr Luk says. The system is designed to replace human workers carrying out high-risk tasks in mid-air and at a high altitude. 'As the target price of the proposed Cleanbot system is about HK$500,000, it is not difficult to see that a significant saving can be achieved.' The Hong Kong and China Gas Co received the Federation of Hong Kong Industries Consumer Pro-duct Design Award for its automatic meter-reading system. The system uses innovative technology to read gas meters remotely. 'It allows non-intrusive, hassle-free and automatic meter-reading, without meter-readers having to enter customer premises,' says James Kwan, executive director - commercial. The system, which makes use of gas pipelines for radio frequency data transmission, is the first of its kind in the world. 'This technological breakthrough offers cost-effective installations and operations. It is suitable for metropolitan areas such as Hong Kong, where densely congested flats and high-rise buildings are widespread.' China State Construction Engineering (Hong Kong) received the Trade and Industry Depart-ment Quality Award for a public housing construction project at Tsing Yi. The company has used ISO 9001 accredited quality management systems for its housing projects since 1992, upgraded this year to ISO 9001:2000. 'Senior management is conscious that the success of each project depends on the performance of all team members,' says chairman Kong Qingping. 'From the beginning we established effective control over the total process by setting up a site quality working group to deal with planning, input, output and verification. This is a unique plan developed to identify quality needs relating to product and service conformity, customer satisfaction and continuous improvement. 'The management has also established key measurable quality objectives and targets at different levels within the company, resulting in enhanced company performance. 'The award encourages us to analyse, prioritise and evaluate our work. By this means, the company strives for continuous improvement and providing quality products and services.' With such a systematic approach the company can improve productivity and increase customer satisfaction, Mr Kong says. A children's toy that hovers and flies like a UFO won for Edu-Science (HK) the Federation of Hong Kong Industries Consumer Product Design Award. The Vectron Blackhawk is the first in a fleet of vector thrust controlled flying machines suitable for indoor play, says marketing director Pearl Tam. 'The next generation of flying toys has arrived,' Ms Tam says of the toy, which has an automatic stability control system and an inbuilt computer controlling the three motors via a joystick. In the same category the company also received a certificate of merit for its C2D Digital Micro-scope, a precision scientific toy that harnesses the power of the personal computer to digitally explore the microscopic world. Designed for children 10 years and older, the microscope gives clear digital images of anything from bacterial moulds to plant dissections. The unit can also be used as a digital camera or a hand-held microscope. Ms Tam says the company's culture encourages ideas. 'Employees are trained to pursue changing technology and develop breakthrough products for the children and adults of the world. We continuously come up with new ideas and concepts to achieve our goal of becoming the leader in the toy industry.'