Cova Boosts Productivity by 15% in 6 Months with Smart Operations Solution




Maxim’s Group has been managing more than 70 well-known brands, including Cova, an Italian brand entering into Hong Kong market since 1993. Having the largest number of Cova outlets in the world, Cova Hong Kong has 13 retail outlets and 5 cafè in operation. The 24/7 Cova manufacturing plant in Chai Wan takes up orders from the outlets and made tens of thousands of bread, pastries and cookies every day.

The factory is pursuing a sustainable operation model by quantifying and standardising the workflow processes. This enables precise measurement of energy and food ingredient use, helping to save energy and reduce food waste. The management team also expects to collect real-time operational data and gain insights into productivity and the factory environment at all times, in hope to enhance efficiency and facilitate management.


To achieve a sustainable operation model, Cova factory hopes to save energy and reduce food waste by quantifying production processes with data, at the same time enhance efficiency and facilitate management to align with Maxim’s Group ESG goals, as well as its strategy for digital transformation.


GS1 HK reviewed the factory’s entire production process thoroughly, and advised to introduce Smart Operations solution in which IoT sensors and ezTRACK are setup at the premise, to allow management team acquires all the factory data easily in as dashboard view.   


3 key areas are enhanced in the Cova factory: 1) manpower use – productivity gain by 15%; 2) overhead costs – reduce 5% ingredient wastage and saves 5% of power; 3) food quality management – minimise food safety risk by monitoring the processes 24/7, blostering quality and traceability. 


Solution – Consultancy and Smart Operations Solution


As a long-time trusted partner of the Maxim's Group, GS1 HK conducted a thorough review of the factory's entire production process, from procurement of ingredients, warehouse management, manufacturing, to taking orders, shipping and return, etc. The team advised the factory to use technologies to keep an eye on and streamline the operations, which corresponds to the group's ESG goals, as well as their strategy for digital transformation.


Efficiency Gain, Cutting Consumption & Wastage

Cova decided to deploy GS1 HK’s Smart Operations solution by installing IoT sensors in locations like the production area, warehouse, cold storage, and on various appliances such as air conditioner, oven and fridge. These narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) sensors, characterised by their durability, cost-effectiveness and energy-efficiency, help to continuously record a range of data like temperature, humidity, power usage and air quality. 

GS1 HK has designed an electronic performance form (e-form) for the project and created a dashboard using GS1 HK’s traceability platform "ezTRACK", which enables management to see clearly all the environmental and productivity data, and receive alarm in case of unusual event to prevent accident.


15% More Productive and 5% Less Wastage

3 key areas are upgraded in the Cova factory: manpower use, overhead costs, and food quality. The GS1 HK team had helped identify, record and analyse the standard minute value (SMV) for each process, and established benchmarks for the processes. For example, in the production of sponge cake, from kneading the flour, making the batter, to baking, the time and materials required for each process are standardised. Staff are required to follow these standards and log them on the e-form regularly. This allows the management to assess staff performance and if any issues arise, they can adjust the manpower across processes to ensure stable product output, meeting the daily order demands.


Saving 5% of Energy

Operating around the clock, energy usage like water and electricity in the Cova factory constitutes a large part of its overhead. By constantly monitoring temperature, humidity and air quality in the factory floor, the management can estimate the expenses more accurately, making it more convenient to prepare financial reports while also enable preemptive measures. For example, if an employee leaves the chill room door open for a long time, that would trigger a spike in electricity consumption immediately, or if a damaged water pipe leak causing excessive water use, all these anomalies will be shown on the dashboard. The management would then receive an alert to take action and rectify the issue.


We are committed to using technology to stay competitive and differentiate ourselves from others, making our operations more efficient. With the help of GS1 HK, we've not only been able to streamline the workflows, but also enhance productivity, minimise food waste and energy, thanks to the Smart Operations solution. Our staff can oversee everything, clearly understand and record the overall situation of the factory on a single dashboard, which makes our ongoing evaluation and forecasting easier.

Ken Mok, Lead - Manufacturing Solutions, Hong Kong Maxim’s Group


Upholding Food Safety


The factory management can establish alarm systems, for example, if the air quality in the factory floor is abnormal, or if the temperature of a fridge rises by a few degrees over a period of time, a warning will appear to alert staff to handle the emergency. Complete surveillance and documentation of the food production process are crucial to strengthen the factory’s food safety management, minimise food-borne risk and protect customers from harm. This also ensures both compliance and traceability. In any unexpected event, the source of the problem can be identified and responses made swiftly, promising damage control at its best. 

GS1 HK finished the process assessment and supported the solution implementation within 3 months. Beyond the production line, Cova is contemplating an upgrade of its logistics system (including cold chain), aimed at improving fulfillment capability and ensuring stable supply of its premium food to the customers. This innovative transformation experience of Cova factory serves as an excellent proof point for the company to scale up to the other 4 factory premises, accelerating its data-driven operation strategy.   

At Maxim’s Group, our digitalisation journey has started years ago which helps us respond more quickly to the market needs. I believe at the heart of the journey, is real-time data. Data is the lifeblood and asset that drives the growth of our group. GS1 HK has introduced and deployed the Smart Operations solution centered around real-time data, providing us a solid groundwork to promote sustainable development, optimise operational management, and ensure food safety.

Louis Mah, Director, Group Information Technology, Hong Kong Maxim’s Group




By quantifying productivity and energy consumption, Cova factory is able to gauge the effects after implementation: 

Recognising the average energy consumption demand helps reduce power use by 5%

By accurately measuring the portions of each product, food wastage is reduced by 5%

The standardised production process saves manpower and achieve productivity gain by 15%

Maintain constant surveillance of the production line to ensure food quality and food safety


About the Company


Founded in 1817 by Antonio Cova - a Napoleonic soldier - Cova is one of Italy’s oldest pasticceria. The time-honoured Milan cafè was introduced to Hong Kong in 1993, committed to offering food lovers authentic Italian cuisine, a selection of sensational fresh cakes and desserts as well as renowned chocolates and confectioneries directly imported from Milan.

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