Dubai: Unilever unveils $272m manufacturing plant

The company will mark products manufactured at the factory with a ‘Made in UAE’ label and will export 80% of them to Europe and MENA region

NEWS, Projects, Consumer goods, Dove, Dubai industrial park, Europe, Fair & lovely, Lifebuoy, Made in UAE, Manufacturing plant, MENA, Sunsilk, Unilever, Vaseline

Consumer goods giant, Unilever, inaugurated its $272m (AED1bn) personal care products manufacturing facility at Dubai Industrial Park (DIP).

The official opening ceremony took place under the patronage and in the presence of HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. Also in attendance were Paul Polman, CEO Unilever; Sanjiv Kakkar, executive vice president of Unilever MENA, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus; and Abdulla Belhoul, CEO of Dubai Wholesale City, as well as senior officials from the Tecom Group.

The company will mark products manufactured at the factory with a ‘Made in UAE’ label and will export 80% of them to Europe and MENA region. Spanning 100,000m2, 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.

Sheikh Al Maktoum said: “The UAE is accelerating its efforts to boost the industrial sector and make it a valuable contributor to the national economy, turning the ‘Made in UAE’ label into a mark of quality and global excellence. We can achieve this through successful partnerships with international manufacturers, and stimulating investments in industry.

“Our country has become a destination of choice for the industrial sector, as it provides modern infrastructure, an investment friendly environment, and a world-class legislative framework for businesses seeking to become global trail blazers.”

He added: “This project is a role model for industry, thanks to its investment in people and its utilisation 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.”

The facility utilises 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% of the energy required to run the plant will come from solar power, and 80% of waste water will be repurposed and reused for agricultural and cleaning purposes.

Highlighting the importance of the GCC and UAE markets for Unilever, Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, said: “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.

"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."

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.

Commenting on the opening of the facility, Belhoul said: “This step by Unilever, an international consumer goods giant that distributes 400 brands to 190 countries around the world, reflects the abundant opportunities available in Dubai. It also indicates the readiness of the UAE to begin laying the foundations of a diversified knowledge-based economy. We are proud to host a facility of this importance at Dubai Wholesale City - Dubai Industrial Park. We are confident this plant will reinforce the manufacturing sector of the UAE economic system, where it plays a key role in Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030.”

The new factory is also designed to ensure minimal environmental impact, including sending zero waste to landfill (non-hazardous waste) by partnering with reputable recycling companies with great expertise in environmental management.

The factory will recycle 100% of non-hazardous 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 continuous production technology, which reduces the production cycle by 90%.

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