HKPC Helps Hong Kong Enterprise Achieve Advanced Manufacturing with Intelligent Electrospinning Production Lines for High Value-added “Made-in-Hong Kong” Nanofiber Material
The Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC), as the implementer and promoter of the industrial policy of Hong Kong, has been helping various industries to shine and supporting the HKSAR Government to develop and promote high value-added industries with advanced technologies and intelligent production to save cost, land and manpower for manufacturers.
Recently, HKPC was commissioned by a local manufacturer, Nanoshields Technology Limited (Nanoshields), to custom design and set up two intelligent electrospinning production lines for nanofiber filter material with the aim of raising output by more than 60% and producing over 300 tonnes of material annually for use in personal protective equipment and water filters to serve the global market. The project was also the first one with maximum funding of $15 million approved under the Re-industrialisation Funding Scheme of the Innovation and Technology Commission of the HKSAR Government.
Dr Alex Wong, Director of Nanoshields, said, with HKPC’s assistance to set up intelligent production lines, Nanoshields hopes to optimise factory operation, improve equipment maintenance, strengthen cost control and enhance production efficiency, thereby helping the company’s further expansion to the international market for nanofiber filter material
HKPC offers “one-stop” support from feasibility studies, factory layout and production line design, equipment installation and system integration, to testing and fine-tuning. Each equipment on these two smart electrospinning production lines for nanofiber filter material will employ advanced human-machine interface and automation technologies to reduce the demand for skilled workers and stamp out human errors. Environmental and production data can be collected with smart sensors for real-time data delivery which enables the setting up of a real-time monitoring system to realise the visualisation of production data. Nanoshields can gather the relevant data in the production process for real-time prediction of product quality to significantly shorten the downtime of the production line, raise the yield and speed up the pace of commercialisation. HKPC will also offer Industry 4.0 (i4.0) and intelligent technology training for Nanoshields management and staff. The production lines will be set up at the Advanced Manufacturing Centre in Tseung Kwan O with production due to commence in 2023.
The nanofiber filter material produced by Nanoshields is used in personal protective equipment and water filters for the global market.
Mr Edmond Lai, Chief Digital Officer of HKPC, said, “This project combines two advanced manufacturing technologies of electrospinning and smart production. In addition to helping Nanoshields to enhance the flexibility of its production lines, significantly improve efficiency and quality, and accelerate the development of other new applications such as sensors, batteries and functional textiles, It can also promote the development of the value chain of the electrospinning industry, further stimulate the demand for research and development (R&D), expand the nanofiber material industry in Hong Kong to the global market, strengthen the confidence of global consumers in ‘R&D in Hong Kong’ and ‘Made in Hong Kong’, and consolidate Hong Kong’s technology in the R&D and manufacturing of new high-end materials for the promotion of high value-added industries and the development of Hong Kong into an international innovation and technology hub.”
Dr Alex Wong, Director of Nanoshields, said, “Supported by HKPC’s team of professional i4.0 consultants who are highly-experienced in artificial intelligence, robotics, Internet of Things, intelligent manufacturing and big data, we aim to set up intelligent production lines which can optimise factory operation, improve equipment maintenance, strengthen cost control and enhance production efficiency. The intelligent production lines are expected to save over 40% of manpower cost, reduce product quality control cost by 30%, lessen inventory costs by 8%, shorten maintenance time by 20% and raise annual output by over 60%. This will help us further penetrate the international market for nanofiber filter material.”
Nanoshields also plans to apply nanofiber materials to sensing fibers in electronics, batteries and textiles. By combining the strengths of “government, industry, academia and research” through making best use of the R&D edge of local universities, government funding, and technical support from R&D institutions such as HKPC, it aims to set up a production centre for smart nanofiber materials, which can be applied to various products.