NETHERLANDS – British multinational consumer goods company, Unilever has developed a portable food factory that operates within a 40-foot sea container.
The container is fitted with all-in-one utility capabilities, and requires just one electricity cable and a water hose to operate.
According to Unilever, the unit covers the end-to-end production process – from raw materials through to packaging – to produce 300 tonnes of liquid seasoning per eight-hour shift.
Unilever says the concept of the travel factory means that it can be shipped to new locations across the world, making the most of local ingredients.
This flexibility and localised production will also allow quicker responses to changing demand in local markets, meaning products can be rolled out faster.
The model can also be used to produce small volumes for product trials, without the need for mass production lines, resulting in low material waste.
Requiring around two or three operators per container, the factory is run remotely by a central ‘Platform Eco System’ that uses live production data.
Olivera Trifunovic, Unilever engineering manager and project lead of the travel factory, said: “This travel factory reflects 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.”
“I’m incredibly proud of our team who have worked so hard, and so quickly, to bring this start-up to life.”
FoodBev reported that the post-modern food processing factory is currently being trialled in the Netherlands, and from the end of this month, the prototype will produce liquid bouillon for Unilever’s Food Solutions business.
In addition, Unilever says that production could potentially be expanded to mayonnaise, ketchup and ice cream in the future.
The development of the nano-factory is also a big win for young enterprenuers and food startsups which may not have enough money to build a fully fledged food factory during their formative stages.
The good news is that the consumer goods company also plans to lease, rent or sell ‘many’ of these production units to young entrepreneurs.
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