May 16, 2020

Unilever launches new packaging technologies centre in the UK

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Sophie Chapman
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The British-Dutch consumer good firm, Unilever, has announced the launch of its new Advanced Manufacturing Centre.

The centre, located in Port Sunlight...

The British-Dutch consumer good firm, Unilever, has announced the launch of its new Advanced Manufacturing Centre.

The centre, located in Port Sunlight, Wirral, UK, will develop new packaging materials technology and boost the company’s global R&D presence.

The facility will feature a pilot plant that will enable scientists and engineers to test new concepts in a factory-like setting.

The Advanced Manufacturing Centre received funding from the Regional Growth Fund, an initiative of the UK Government.


The site has been configured to work with industrial and academic partners, and will include replica equipment and conditions of existing sites run by the firm.

 “I am delighted to announce the official opening of our Advanced Manufacturing Centre,” commented The Port Sunlight Facility Director at Unilever, Cameron Jones.

“The completion of our newest facility here in our historical home in Port Sunlight, coincides with our 130-year anniversary, where this week marks the construction of William Lever’s Sunlight Soap factory.

“The new Centre highlights our continued commitment to creating new innovative products, further improving the quality of manufacturing and in addition, accelerating our ability to roll out even more winning products across the world.”

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May 12, 2021

Gartner: Leaders Lack Skilled Smart Manufacturing Workers

2 min
57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support smart manufacturing digitalisation

With organisations rapidly adopting industry 4.0 capabilities to increase productivity, efficiency, transparency, and quality as well as reduce cost, manufacturers “are under pressure to bring their workforce into the 21st century,” says Gartner.

While more connected factory workers are leveraging digital tools and data management techniques to improve decision accuracy, increase knowledge and lessen variability, 57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support their smart manufacturing digitalisation plans.

“Our survey revealed that manufacturers are currently going through a difficult phase in their digitisation journey toward smart manufacturing,” said Simon Jacobson, Vice President analyst, Gartner Supply Chain practice.

“They accept that changing from a break-fix mentality and culture to a data-driven workforce is a must. However, intuition, efficiency and engagement cannot be sacrificed. New workers might be tech-savvy but lack access to best practices and know-how — and tenured workers might have the knowledge, but not the digital skills. A truly connected factory worker in a smart manufacturing environment needs both.”

Change Management

Surveying 439 respondents from North America, Western Europe and APAC, Gartner found that “organisational complexity, integration and process reengineering are the most prevalent challenges for executing smart manufacturing initiatives.” Combined they represent “the largest change management obstacle [for manufacturers],” adds Gartner.

“It’s interesting to see that leadership commitment is frequently cited as not being a challenge. Across all respondents, 83% agree that their leadership understands and accepts the need to invest in smart manufacturing. However, it does not reflect whether or not the majority of leaders understand the magnitude of change in front of them – regarding technology, as well as talent,” added Jacobson.

Technology and People

While the value and opportunities smart manufacturing can provide an organisation is being recognised, introducing technology alone isn’t enough. Gartner emphasises the importance of evolving factory workers alongside the technology, ensuring that they are on board in order for the change to be successful.

“The most immediate action is for organisations to realize that this is more than digitisation. It requires synchronising activities for capability building, capability enablement and empowering people. Taking a ‘how to improve a day in the life’ approach will increase engagement, continuous learning and ultimately foster a pull-based approach that will attract tenured workers. They are the best points of contact to identify the best starting points for automation and the required data and digital tools for better decision-making,” said Jacobson.

Long term, “it is important to establish a data-driven culture in manufacturing operations that is rooted in governance and training - without stifling employee creativity and ingenuity,” concluded Gartner.

Discover Gartner's Five Best Practices for Post COVID-19 Innovation' in manufacturing.

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