By Luisa S. Lumioan, S&T Media Service
METRO MANILA—Life proved to be sweeter for chocolate manufacturer Lulu Panopio when she acquired a manufacturing equipment for her business through the assistance of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Science and Technology’s Small Enterprise Technology and Upgrading Program (SETUP).
Panopio's company named JAMLA produces the local cacao chocolate brand, Alfonso's hot chocolate tablea, named after the family patriarch. The tablea is cooked to make the Spanish-inspired drink tsokolate-a and Filipino merienda champorado.
The popularity of Alfonso's chocolate tablets has earned it a reputation from being one of the best tablea products in Cavite and is often part of the “One Town One Product” (OTOP) exhibits of the Department of Trade and Industry.
According to her, the company was able to lease a rotary tablet press, a twin screw mixer and a seal and ribbon coder from DOST SETUP three years ago.
The rotary tablet press can mold the chocolate tablets in a uniform size and weight than better and faster manual molding, said Panopio.
Meanwhile, the twin screw mixer improved the consistency of the chocolate powder mixture before this is filled up into the tablet press.
The acquisition of the vertical form fill seal and ribbon coder helped improve the company's production efficiency than when it was doing contract packaging.
The efficiency came in terms of better quality control and lesser overhead and time expenses on transportation of the product from the packaging company and back to JAMLA, explained Panopio.
Under the SETUP lease agreement, the company has the option to buy the machine as the contract ends this year.
Panopio expressed interest to buy the equipment after seeing improvements in production time. Prior to the acquisition of the machine, tablea makers traditionally peel the skin of the cacao fruit by hand and mold the chocolate mixture, a tedious process that produce inconsistent size of the tableas.
“The machine allowed the company to increase production at a lower the cost. More importantly, the program gave us the courage to invest on the factory,” said Panopio.
SETUP is an agency under DOST that aims to encourage and assist micro-, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to adopt technology innovations for the improvement of their operations. The program provides assistance through technology transfer and interventions.
NCR regional director Dr. Teresita Fortuna said that the priority sectors that SETUP plans to assist include: food processing, furniture; gifts decors and handicrafts, marine and aquatic resources, horticulture and agriculture, and metals and engineering.