KOTA KINABALU: The United Sabah Chinese Communities Association of Kota Kinabalu (USCCAKK) committee, led by its president Datuk Susan Wong Siew Guen, visited Comogo Noodles Manufacturer Sdn Bhd instant noodle manufacturing plant at Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park (KKIP) here on Saturday.
The facility, which commenced operation in February this year, is touted to be the third largest in Malaysia.
Its managing director Chua Kui Ting said the manufacturing plant was 95 percent automated with only four employees manning the production line and 10 employees in the packaging section.
He said the old noodle factories would have required 70 employees to operate the production line.
“The plant can produce up to 1,200 tonnes of noodles and 1,500 tonnes of rice vermicelli a month.”
The products are distributed in the local market, which constitutes 30 percent of the sales, while the remaining are exported to Indonesia, Philippines, West Malaysia, Hong Kong, China and Middle East.
“The Philippines and Indonesian market alone make up 40 percent of our business.”
Chua, who is an honorary advisor of USCCAKK, was a supplier of noodles and rice vermicelli imported from China for the past 20 years.
Nevertheless, his frequent trips to China inspired him to set up a factory and become a noodle producer himself.
Beginning four years ago, he invested RM30 million in acquiring a 3.5-acre land in KKIP where he built the manufacturing plant.
“We purchased made-in-China machineries that are powered by Japan technology, which allows the plant to be 95 percent automated.
“We currently only have one production line. We hope to produce rice vermicelli this year when the next batch of machineries arrive.
“The manufacturing plant can accommodate a maximum of five production lines,” he said.
Setting up a noodle factory isn’t without its obstacles. Chua said his machines arrived from China before the Chinese Near Year last year but the Chinese technicians were unwilling to come and assemble the production line because they were required to undergo 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Sabah due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chua had no choice to but assemble the production line himself because the other option would be to delay operation until the Chinese technicians came to do their job.
With help from local technicians and instructions from the Chinese technicians via video call, he spent the next seven weeks installing the machines.
There were also hiccups along the way, such as installing parts the wrong way around and finding out that the sections of the production line were not aligned.
When the production line was finally assembled, the next challenge was to learn how to run the machines.
“The Chinese technicians instructed us to press these buttons and those buttons. But it was chaotic at first because the production line was running too fast.
“We had to stop every stage of the way, made sure everyone got the hang of it, before moving on to the next process.”
At present, the company produces instant noodles in curry, tom yam and chicken flavours.
Chua assured that lye water was not added to the noodles.
“Our machines enable us to produce high quality and hygienic noodles.”