Consumer goods giant Unilever has opened a Dh1 billion ($272 million) manufacturing plant, the region’s largest personal care products facility, at Dubai Industrial Park.
The company will mark products manufactured at the factory with a ‘Made in UAE’ label and will export 80 per cent of them to Europe and Mena region.
The official opening ceremony took place under the patronage and in the presence of Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and chairman of Emirates Group. Sheikh Ahmed said: “This project is a role model for industry thanks to its investment in people and its utilization of the latest technologies. Unilever has made a commitment to the highest sustainability and environmental safety standards, which reflects the UAE’s vision for a more sustainable world that improves quality of life, while protecting its vital resources.”
Spanning 100,000 sq m, this plant is the largest in the region, and is set to deliver the highest output of 100,000 tons per annum of liquid beauty and personal care products a year (approximately 500 million units). The brands manufactured include Dove, Fair & Lovely, Lifebuoy, Vaseline, Clear, TRESemmé, and Sunsilk.
The facility utilizes state-of-the-art technology, which combined with a modular design, ensures shorter, faster and highly responsive production lines that are highly flexible to match market demand. The facility is also designed to reduce waste and energy consumption, in line with the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan via which the company aims to decouple its growth from its environmental impact, while increasing their positive social impact.
In addition to supply chain efficiency, the advanced technology will enable automatic quality control, scanning at a rate of 350 bottles per minute, while also ensuring the highest safety standards integral to and embedded in all equipment designs.
Raw materials will be sourced both locally and globally. Exports will cover countries across North Africa, Middle East and Europe. Unilever is currently collaborating with key suppliers to implement a complete vertical integration, which will help in implementing “just in time” methodology which will enable the factory to become a global sourcing unit by 2022.In addition, 25 per cent of the energy required to run the plant will come from solar power, and 80 per cent of waste water will be repurposed and reused for agricultural and cleaning purposes.
“Choosing the UAE was a strategic decision. It is a trade corridor that connects the East and West, with important growth potential and world class infrastructure. Our new factory is testament to that – as the UAE’s largest private solar park, it reflects a shared vision of driving resilient, sustainable growth, underpinned by innovation,” said Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever.
He said the new plant would support the country’s long-term goal to achieve sustainable economic growth, by contributing to the development of the manufacturing sector and the diversification of the national economy. He mentioned the opportunities that arise for multinational corporations along with the nation’s direction to develop the sector as a pillar of the economy.
With construction commencing in mid-2015, Unilever’s new facility was completed in 18 months with 2.8 million man hours and zero safety incidents.
Supporting Unilever’s commitment of becoming carbon positive by 2030, and the UAE’s Clean Energy Strategy, DPC is one of the first factories in the region to have both solar photovoltaic and solar thermal systems for one manufacturing plant. This makes it the UAE’s largest private solar park.
In addition, green building solutions have been used to reduce the carbon footprint by 90 per cent through a decrease in logistics, as well as recycling of all industrial waste resulting from manufacturing operations.
The new factory is also designed to ensure minimal environmental impact, including sending zero waste to landfill (nonhazardous waste) by partnering with reputable recycling companies with great expertise in environmental management. The factory will recycle 100 per cent of nonhazardous waste, diverting all of it away from landfill from the first day of operation.
Following global best practices and implementing them in this region, the factory will be recycling wasted products starting from packaging up to off-spec products. Through this facility, Unilever will ensure that all plastic, carton, metal and other materials are being recycled into raw materials for use in other industries. Through its recycling partners, the company has gone the extra mile to ensure that all liquid waste is fully recycled where water and oil will be recovered for reuse.
Additionally, the high speed lines, built with world class manufacturing standards and modular designs enable rapid product delivery to the market. Capacity can be rapidly increased to deliver responsiveness to market demand. The facility is also equipped with cutting-edge continuous production technology, which reduces the production cycle by 90 per cent.
As for the workforce, Unilever is the No.1 Employer of Choice in FMCG across all the key Mena markets - UAE, KSA, Egypt, Morocco, and Algeria. In line with its commitment to being an equal opportunity employer at least 40 per cent of the work force will be women, and 36 per cent of them will be working in process engineering, operations, production planning, customer service, management, etc. It additionally has employees from more than 10 nationalities.
According to research by Euromonitor International, the Middle East and Africa (MEA) will be the fastest-growing region for the sale of beauty and personal care products over the next five years, with the US $25.4 billion market projected to grow by 6.4 per cent a year. Globally, the sector is expected to expand by 3 per cent a year.