Unilever floats sea container ‘travel factory’ concept
A ‘travel factory’ housed inside a 40ft shipping container could be the next step in Unilever’s ambition to increase flexibility in its production lines.
The prototype food factory will produce liquid bouillon, a popular seasoning for soups and stews, as part of Unilever’s Food Solutions business during a trial in Wageningen, The Netherlands. If the scheme is fruitful, it could be expanded to include production of condiments such as ketchup and mayonnaise, or ice cream products.
Unilever hopes this latest addition to its supply chain will help cut down on material waste, as well as take advantage of local ingredients. Its small form factor and portability will allow the consumer goods giant to manoeuvre the digital factory around the world in response to shifting demands in local markets. It will also be used as a versatile platform to conduct product trials in low volume, side-stepping the need to power up inefficient mass production lines.
Unilever’s travel factory is remotely run using IoT sensors that feed into the central Platform Eco System, leveraging live production data. Only a skeleton crew of two or three people are needed to operate the factory. Encapsulated within its own eco-system, and fed by just a single electrical cable and one water hose, the pods use end-to-end automated process at every step of food production, from raw ingredients, to cooking, and finally packaging the shelf-ready product. The pilot factories will be able to produce around 300 tonnes of liquid bouillon seasoning every eight hours.
‘Thousands of nano factories’
Unilever’s grand vision for the scheme is a network of small-scale production facilities situated around the world “wherever, and whenever, needed”. Unilever says the units could also play a key role in other product categories, such as its beauty and home care products business.
Olivera Trifunovic, a Unilever Engineering Manager who helmed the travel factory project, envisions “a new dynamic model where thousands of nano factories could be run from a central system, allowing us to have flexible production lines wherever, and whenever, needed”.
Units could also be leased, rented or sold to entrepreneurs outside the consumer products group, opening new doors for collaboration and creating innovation testbeds.
New speakers announced for Procurement & Supply Chain Live
Two leading executives in supply chain transformation have been confirmed for this year's Procurement & Supply Chain Live event.
Procurement & Supply Chain Live is the perfect opportunity to hear from prominent executives at the world’s leading procurement and supply chain businesses. The event will be streamed live from Tobacco Dock, London via the leading networking platform Brella.
The three-day show, running 28-30 September 2021, is an essential deep dive into the industry, with influential speakers sharing insights and strategies from their organisations, group roundtable discussions, and fireside chats.
We take a look at the latest additions to the already amazing lineup of speakers announced so far, and what they will bring to the flagship event.
VP Global Supply Chain at Macmillan Education Ltd
Shaun Plunkett has over 30 years of supply chain leadership experience in FMCG, entertainment and media sectors, supporting multi-billion euro businesses including Universal Music, EMI, Sony Music, Harper Collins and Associated British Foods. He has a track record of successfully delivering transformational change coupled with award winning operating models and developing and coaching global teams. Plunkett says that challenging the status quo is at the heart of what drives him on a daily basis - and encouraging others to continuously push the boundaries.
Read more about Plunkett’s involvement in Macmillan Education’s supply chain transformation HERE
Digital Transformation Lead, Oracle UK and Board Member, CILT at Macmillan Education Ltd
Vikram Singla is digital transformation director at Oracle, UK. He helps supply chain and finance business leaders leverage technology to deliver meaningful business outcomes for their organisations. He also serves on the board if CILT (Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport) – UK and is an Honorary Visiting Fellow at Anglian Ruskin University. Singla has more than 25 years’ experience in the technology sector, and in global supply chain transformation, including deploying business transformation programmes for Fortune 500 firms. In his spare time, Singla is a passionate brand ambassador for Cancer Research.
Plunkett and Singla join a growing line-up of speakers, including: Sheri R. Hinish, IBM; Robert Copeland, G4S; Daniel Weise, BCG; Mark Bromley, Mastercard; David Loseby, Rolls Royce; and Ninian Wilson, Vodafone Procurement Company.