Nestle Introduces Flexible, Simple and Cost-Effective Modular Factories
Nestlé has created a blueprint for a new type of factory that can be built in half the time of a more traditional one for about 50 to 60 percent of the cost. The modular factory will be made of multiple, easy-to assemble component sections designed to offer a highly flexible, simple and cost-effective solution for creating production sites in the developing world.
“The model is a real evolution from the traditional bricks and mortar factories of the past,” said Alfredo Fenollosa, Nestlé technical head for Asia, Oceania and Africa. “Big companies traditionally build solid stuff but the lighter structure of this modular factory concept represents a real mindset change for Nestlé. We hope to be able to apply it soon in countries in Africa, and in some parts of Asia.”
Often, investing in these countries can be high-risk as they can lack infrastructure, reliable energy sources and building expertise but the modular factory concept will enable Nestlé to rapidly establish a footprint, creating local jobs and being closer to its customers and its raw materials.
The average Nestlé factory takes between 18 and 24 months and costs between $33 million and $50 million to build. The new modular factory could be complete and up and running in less than 12 months, at a greatly reduced cost of between $15 million and $25 million.
The design is a further development of Nestlé's current box-in-a-box concept already used in countries with challenging conditions. The box-in-a-box concept is simple – an existing structure is used as an outer shell and a factory is built inside.
The modular factory takes this a step further, using a series of purpose-built factory sections, which can be brought directly to the site and connected to each other according to requirements. These could include a ready-to-use generator and boiler, a staff canteen and changing rooms for factory employees.
The modular factory gives Nestlé a huge amount of flexibility, meaning it can expand or relocate, as local demand requires. Nestlé has a long history of investing in Africa, opening its first factory in 1927. There are currently 25 factories across the continent and a total of 148 across Asia, Oceania and Africa.
Fluent.ai x BSH: Voice Automating the Assembly Line
Fluent.ai has deployed its voice recognition solutions in one of BSH’s German factories. BSH leads the market in producing connected appliances—its brands include Bosch, Siemens, Gaggenau, NEFF, and Thermador, and with this new partnership, the company intends to cut transition time in its assembly lines.
According to BSH, voice automation will yield 75-100% efficiency gains—but it’s the collaboration between the two companies that stands out. ‘After considering 11 companies for this partnership, we chose Fluent.ai because of their key competitive differentiators’, explained Ion Hauer, Venture Partner at BSH Startup Kitchen.
What Sets Fluent.ai Apart?
After seven years of research, the company developed a wide range of artificial intelligence (AI) software products to help original equipment manufacturers (OEM) expand their services. Three key aspects stood out to BSH, which operates across the world and in unique factory environments.
- Robust noise controls. The system can operate even in loud conditions.
- Low latency. The AI understands commands quickly and accurately.
- Multilingual support. BSH can expand the automation to any of its 50+ country operations.
How Voice Automation Works
Instead of pressing buttons, BSH factory workers will now be able to speak into a headset fitted with Fluent.ai’s voice recognition technology. After uttering a WakeWord, workers can use a command to start assembly line movement. As the technology is hands-free, workers benefit from less physical strain, which will both reduce employee fatigue and boost line production.
‘Implementing Fluent’s technology has already improved efficiencies within our factory, with initial implementation of the solution cutting down the transition time from four seconds to one and a half”, said Markus Maier, Project Lead at the BSH factory. ‘In the long run, the production time savings will be invaluable’.
Future Global Adoption
In the coming years, BSH and Fluent.ai will continue to push for artificial intelligence on factory lines, pursuing efficiency, ergonomics, and a healthy work environment. ‘We started with Fluent.ai on one factory assembly line, moved to three, and [are now] considering rolling the technology out worldwide’, said Maier.
Said Probal Lala, Fluent.ai’s CEO: ‘We are thrilled to be working with BSH, a company at the forefront of innovation. Seeing your solution out in the real world is incredibly rewarding, and we look forward to continuing and growing our collaboration’.