Working on the delivery team for Swire Coca-Cola HK's “At-Work and Home” (“AWH”) service, Chung Kwong has delivered fresh water across Hong Kong for 15 years. Keeping the city hydrated is no small feat. From deftly navigating rush-hour traffic, to transporting heavy carboys to offices and remote country parks, the AWH service demands smart logistics and physical fitness.
Why does a developed city like Hong Kong need carboy water deliveries?
It's easy to take fresh water for granted because it is so accessible these days – but it wouldn't be that way without us. In Hong Kong, we don't drink water straight from the tap. People in offices tend to use bottled water to save the time and effort of boiling tap water, so we deliver Bonaqua® carboy water to lots of offices. Cafes like to use bottled water to brew high-quality coffee with a consistent taste. And then there are places that are entirely lacking in fresh water supplies, like countryside hiking trails or construction sites. They rely on us to keep people hydrated, so I believe I contribute something essential to the city – and I am proud to do it.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I usually catch the first train to work at 5:40 am. Once I arrive, my team and I plan our route carefully over breakfast. It's a complicated logistical puzzle, but essential to a smooth and successful day. My team oversees areas including Cheung Sha Wan, Lai Chi Kok and Kwai Chung in Kowloon, where there are lots of commercial and industrial buildings. We set out by 8 am to avoid peak traffic and we usually eat lunch on the go, in the truck, to save time. By 4 pm, we wrap up, report back to the company, and go home.
How much water do you deliver each day?
There are 11 teams in AWH, each including a driver and three delivery people like me. On my team alone, we deliver 600-700 carboys of water to different destinations – or about 100-120 orders.
|AWH teams use specifically modified trolleys to carry a maximum load.
Thanks to our morning prep, we can avoid bottlenecks and work efficiently. The biggest challenges are the time constraints, since we have to work around peak traffic hours in the morning and at lunchtime.
My work also requires a lot of physical strength. A full plastic carboy weighs a little over 18kg; due to Hong Kong's hilly landscape, we often have to push trolleys up steep hills or carry them up steps. We move eight to ten barrels at a time, which adds up to nearly 190kg of water. On top of physical strength, you also have to be smart and careful not to overload yourself.
How do you protect and refuel your body after work?
Through exercise! I go for a 10km run a few times a week and do dragon boat paddling twice a week. In other words, my evenings are pretty busy! But exercise is essential: it helps me maintain the physical strength I need and gives me more energy. I also love to take hot baths to relax and recharge.
Any particular tricks to working more efficiently?
Definitely. Since we know our assigned neighbourhoods insideout, we can map out the most efficient route every morning. We divide up the districts based on the real-time situation and set drop-off points in different areas for better division of labour and use of time. When we deliver to high-rises, we start from the top, delivering the carboys floor by floor. This saves time waiting for the lift and we pick up empties on the way down; we're careful to avoid lunch hours when many office workers are using the lifts. Every day is different, but we are very well organised, and we work well together as a team – we have each other's backs.
What do you love most about your work?
My mentality is, "Try to be nice to everyone, and they'll treat you well, too." I think that shows in the relationships I have built through my work. Our customers become like friends we look forward to seeing. Most of them appreciate our efforts and some are nice enough to offer a towel or cold drink when the weather is hot. Sometimes, they share snacks with us, or we have a quick chat. Some even keep in touch after they leave the company or retire. I even met my girlfriend through my work!