HONG KONG manufactures who have relocated to China may be surrendering much of their gains, since most factories run at only 50 per cent capacity, a maintenance-management expert says. Pieter Boshoff, director of engineering solutions at Titan Pacific Group, said many manufacturers did not have an effective maintenance-management system. Too many Hong Kong companies were using their machinery until it broke down, Mr Boshoff said. An effective computerised maintenance-management system could help avoid these problems, Mr Boshoff said. ''Not having a link between maintenance and production is like writing someone a cheque without having money in the bank, because you are promising to deliver goods on time without knowing if you have the working machinery to produce them,'' he said. By using modern technology, maintenance-management could be done through an office in Hong Kong. ''Let us say, for example, you have a conveyor belt at your factory in China which you know breaks down, on average, every five weeks,'' said Mr Boshoff. ''If you leave it until it breaks down then you have to get someone to come out and fix it and you waste valuable production time. ''But if you operate an effective maintenance-management system, then you would schedule someone to replace that belt every three weeks. In this way, you would have the parts ready and you would do the job at a time that was suitable to you, so that production time would not be lost.'' According to Titan Pacific, maintenance-management could boost production capacity to 85 or even 95 per cent. ''Eighty-five per cent is easy if you just do the basics,'' Mr Boshoff said. ''Using this technology, you could sit over in Hong Kong and operate the maintenance system for a factory in China from here. ''A guy could sit in Hong Kong at a terminal and see exactly what was the status of all the equipment in his factory and what needed to be replaced.'' In the US and Europe, about 80 per cent of companies operated some form of computer-based management, he said. Titan Pacific has developed a maintenance-management system aimed at the Far East. Its Integrated Computer-Aided Maintenance (I-CAM) system is a Windows-based network. Special features for Asian users include I-CAM's ability to simultaneously run on two languages; support double-byte languages like Chinese, Japanese or Korean; a multicurrency capability; and a flexible drop-in database. Mr Boshoff said understanding the way a computerised maintenance-management system operated was more important than having specific software. ''That is why we do not only give people the software,'' he said. ''We give them support and training in the methodology and the systems that will give them the best results, so that they can improve their available capacity. ''Even if people have good software packages, if they do not understand why they are doing this, then it fails. ''What we do is to look at a manufacturer's operation. Then we will install a system at his factory and then train his people and help them to implement the system. In the bigger plants that can take three to six months to get the system up and running properly.''