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ProFood World News: Unilever Engineers Fit a Factory Into a 40-foot Container

The ‘nano factory’ enables flexibility and agility in production capability, particularly in terms of testing new products and responding quickly to changes in consumer demand.

The nano factory is a fully-functioning, mini production line that fits entirely into a 40-foot shipping container.
The nano factory is a fully-functioning, mini production line that fits entirely into a 40-foot shipping container.

Unilever, a multinational consumer goods company, has put together a supply chain team–led by two female engineers–to provide a solution for small volume production. Seasonal variants, market tests before full launch, and responding quickly to changing demand in local markets are not commercially viable to accomplish on mass production lines, as each switchover takes time.

The Unilever supply chain team offered the innovative solution of creating a “nano factory,” a fully-functioning, mini production line that fits entirely into a 40-foot shipping container. It is designed to house everything needed to produce a batch, from the point where raw materials go in at one end to where finished products come out at the other–bottled, capped, and labelled.

Flexible supply capability

Due to its size, the factory can be transported on the back of a truck and needs only an electricity cable and a water hose plugged in to be up and running, says the company. This means it should be quick to deliver and set up and can provide additional capacity where and...

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