4 Jan 2005
Learning To Box Clever(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 01,2005)
Hip Lik Packaging Products Fty Ltd
"The technological know-how of the whole packaging industry in Hong Kong generally lagged behind Europe and the US about 10 years ago," explains general manager William Suen. "However, Hong Kong's industry, and Hip Lik in particular, is now regarded as a serious competitor."
Citing a real case example, Suen recounts how Hip Lik's competitiveness encouraged a former UK plastic packaging manufacturer to shift into trading and become a Hip Lik client.
Established in 1969, Hip Lik has become a major transparent folding box supplier, using mainly clear PVC, PP and PET for production.
According to Suen, the firm was the first manufacturer in Hong Kong's transparent packaging industry to be awarded an ISO 9001 quality certificate.
"Clear plastic boxes have evolved to become popular packaging cartons because customers prefer to be able to see what they are buying. It is a case of seeing is believing," Suen notes.
The increasing market demand has driven Hip Lik to specialise in high-end transparent folding boxes to enhance its competitiveness.
"A-grade materials (referring to American quality), advanced techniques and modern machines are the keys to success," Suen claims.
The firm uses plastic imported from the US, Europe, Japan, Taiwan and the Chinese mainland, and works very closely with suppliers to ensure it receives the best materials.
"A-grade materials have excellent anti-scratching properties, anti-static performance and high-impact resistance. They allow our customers to elegantly display and enhance product images to boost sales," he says.
Remaining at the cutting edge is vital, and the company devotes more than 5% of its annual turnover to R&D, along with a considerable investment in automatic equipment and printing machines.
"There is an increasing trend towards adding printing to transparent packaging. However, printing on plastic can create difficulties and many companies lack the specialist machines and technological know-how," Suen points out.
"Hip Lik can offer high quality offset, silk screen and hot stamping printing on boxes thanks to our skilled labour, sophisticated machinery and quality materials."
Suen believes the offset printing of folding boxes enhances product appeal and boosts product image, and Hip Lik claims a daily offset production capacity of up to 500,000 pieces.
"Our advanced soft-crease technique is an another advantage," says Suen. "Soft-crease folding produces a rigid shape and quick-to-assemble products. Also, boxes can be delivered flat to customers for local assembly and clearly this saves on transportation costs."
Other special printing techniques used include gold stamping, hologram foil, frosted effects, metallic offset printing and clear UV embossing.
However, growing concerns with environmental issues - coupled with more stringent legislation on the use of packaging materials worldwide - are influencing the choice of materials.
Packaging manufacturers are now required to mould their packaging materials to meet higher "green" requirements, so that their customers in turn can meet the environmental standards in the countries where the products are sold.
"PET and PP are superbly environmentally friendly when combined," Suen believes. "The combination is popular for plastic packaging, especially in Europe, the US and Japan as it is also attractive and durable. PET and PP are good substitutes for PVC."
He says Hip Lik uses advanced bonding techniques to glue the PP and PET together, a breakthrough compared with the traditional method of inelegant ultrasonic and interlocking tabs.
Hip Lik's 150,000-square-metre factory in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland employs more than 600 skilled workers.
OEM orders are welcome. "All products are tailor-made in terms of style, dimensions and printing. Our experienced designers also provide structural design guidelines to clients," Suen notes.
Hip Lik's major markets are Europe and the US, and the firm is expanding to areas such as the Chinese mainland. Although Europe and US customers tend to use higher quality material (at higher prices), the Chinese mainland prefers lower cost and quality material.
"Clear packaging surrounds numerous products, including cosmetics, gifts and premiums, toys and stationery, fashion and garments, as well as electronics and watches," says Suen. "A clear plastic box can boost product sales amazingly, and seeing really is believing when you box your products transparently."
WRITTEN BY VANAPA ONGVISES
Hip Lik Packaging Products Fty Ltd