Global manufacturing reaching the Ecuadorian consumer
Kimberly-Clark affiliates in Latin America manage corporate and local brands with the mission to achieve leadership in each of their markets. KC Ecuador is no exception to any effort focused on reaching this goal, since the subsidiary has performed toward constant expansion and adding new products during its 20-year old presence in the country.
"I've been fortunate enough to grow along Kimberly-Clark in Latin America, developing a category in the region, reaching a more than $1 billion value, and with a double digit growth rate in revenue," detailed Adriana Gonzalez, current general manager for Kimberly-Clark Ecuador.
Gonzalez, an industrial engineer at first, became an expert in business administration and marketing. The executive has worked for Kimberly-Clark for the last 18 years. She has been in charge of Ecuadorian operations since June 2012.
Her closeness to consumers in Ecuador and in any other market where her managed brands have presence is due to an able understanding of user's needs, learned from marketing surveys. Results from these are analyzed in Kimberly-Clark innovation centers, where improvements for any product are developed.
Two decades of solidary growth
Though KCE's outstanding growth is a result from the fusion-acquisition of Ecuapel S.A., Industrial La Reforma Jacinto Jouvin Arce C.A. paper mills and Mimo S.A. Mimosa personal care manufacturer, the key factors to achieving constant leadership have been high investments in machinery, developing automation procedures and improving conditions for its workforce.
"We currently have a turnover of more than $160 millions; we are very strong in Ecuador, hence our possibilities for growth are focused on investments rather than from acquisitions," the general manager explained.
Nevertheless, KCE is open to growing along other companies through strategic partnerships.
KCE stands out for being a high revenue source built through inorganic growth, able to achieve market penetration. This success has allowed the affiliate to invest more than $120 million in Ecuador to develop new job positions within a context of commercial progress.
Some examples of KCE's success in positioning Ecuador-bred brands in the South American market and regional brands into the Ecuadorian market have been:
1. Establishing Huggies diapers as the consumers' preferred brand.
2. Positioning Flor and Scott as the brand for toilet paper, after both brands have been present for years now in Ecuadorian households, with innovations and proposals of added value.
3. Kimberly-Clark's growth in Ecuador, from being a 40-employee distribution operation to become a 600 employee-plus manufacturer, creating other 2,000 indirect jobs.
"We always consider bringing home the best rewards for our staff, consumers, clients and stakeholders, as a retribution for how successful they make us feel with every purchase of our products," Gonzalez added.
Organizational culture beyond the management processes
"Our human resource is what's most important to us," the executive stated, sharing also that KCE's rapid growth is also due to the staff's hard work.
To enhance its engagement to its hired staff, the company has develop different training programs and continuous improvement procedures through global organizational culture and by means of the Kimberly-Clark University, a training program partnered with major colleges in the U.S. (Purdue University, Stanford, for example) and online education classes through Harvard ManageMentor®, and with global forums about new advances in technology and fields such as business, marketing, management and others.
These continuing education programs are focused for workers to bring out the most of their potential and grow within Kimberly-Clark.
"We want to make a continual knowledge transference procedure out of these programs, which is a very valuable asset for the staff at KCE," pointed Gonzalez.
Regarding talent exportation, Gonzalez mentioned that there are several KC executives that first started at one affiliate or other and ended up in upper management positions within the corporation's different brands and territories.
Other global initiatives from Kimberly-Clark include the opening - five years ago - of a human resource strategic development center in Brazil called Blue Ocean Institute, which has already partnered with important universities from all over the world, with teachers such as Renee Melbourne.
Maintaining world-class standards
Besides maintaining the corporation's global standards for quality in every product, KCE set its sight on lean manufacturing, in order to optimize every procedure, increase productivity and reduce waste.
"We sum more than 6,000 hours of training among our staff to display the lean philosophy within our operations," the executive expressed.
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Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing
Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing
What is Ultium Cells LLC?
Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”
Who is Li-Cycle?
Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.
As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”
Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?
By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.
“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).
"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.
"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.
Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.
"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.