Headquartered in Switzerland, Nestlé is one of the world’s leading food and nutrition companies in the world. Its roots go back to an early 20th century merger of Anglo-Swiss Milk Company, founded in 1867 by George and Charles Page, and Farine Lactée Henri Nestlé, founded in 1866 by Henri Nestlé. Expanding from its humble roots of offering just condensed milk and infant baby formula, the company now owns 6,000 brands across several markets and industries, among them bottled water, coffee, frozen foods, pet food, ice cream, infant foods and chocolate and confectionery products.

Today, the company has 281,000 employees with operations in 81 countries around the globe. To strengthen its presence in the Middle East, Nestlé has recently launched a new $136 million manufacturing facility in Dubai.

“While one wouldn’t automatically associate chocolate and confectionery products with a country in the Middle East, for Nestlé, this area of the world has been a traditional market,” says Paul Bulcke, Nestlé’s Chief Executive Officer: “Nestlé has been present in the Middle East for 75 years, with an emphasis on sourcing locally and creating new local employment.

“By opening the new facility in our regional headquarters in Dubai we will be closer to our consumers in the region and can better adapt our products to their needs and preferences,” adds Bulcke. “The Middle East is a very important part of our business and our ongoing investments demonstrate our confidence in the region.”

When developing this new plant, Nestlé turned to partner Bosch Packaging Technology (www.boschpackaging.com) to supply packaging lines for its KitKat, Quantum and Chunky Wafer bars.

A Lean Approach

For its new, dedicated plant, Nestlé wanted to follow a lean approach when selecting machinery and designing the production processes, and high output rates were a must. Therefore, Nestlé’s supplier requirements were quite challenging, including documents from detailed technical specifications for the equipment’s manufacturing up to a detailed organizational life cycle planning at an early stage.

The company sought to develop two packaging lines able to handle a variety of products at very high output rates, with each handling 1,440 products per minute. These lines would have to produce flow wrapped two- and four-finger KitKat wafer bars and Quantum and Chunky wafer bars, as well another variety of the KitKat bar, including multi-packing and cartoning. Nestlé from the beginning followed a very lean strategic approach for implementing all new machinery and processes in the plant. In other words, it was important to ensure operational efficiency from the first day on.

Bosch Packaging Technology was a major supplier of the project, providing two line solutions for the entire packaging process, from the first handling of the product by the distribution station up until the secondary packaging for retailers. The two lines include cross feeding station (only for line 1), Rotzinger DAA flow regulators, Sigpack HSM flow wrappers, Sigpack TTL-i toploaders and Sigpack HCM flow wrappers for multipacks, all from Bosch Packaging Technology and all seamlessly integrated.

Taking the Heat

A particular challenge was building a line from scratch in a desert environment where procedures that worked well in other parts of the world could not be applied. All packaging equipment needed to be perfectly packaged and sealed to prevent exposure to the harsh and sandy desert conditions, something Bosch successfully mastered. This allowed Nestlé to ensure top hygiene and quality standards of its confectioneries and enabled Bosch to prove its capabilities in a growing market.  

Training

As a consequence of the very high output rates and tough project requirements, questions on operator training, continuous production support and improvement and spare parts sourcing had to be thoroughly discussed and reviewed. This ensured the plant could be operated as efficiently as possible to meet Nestlé’s targets.

Additionally, Nestlé operators were trained on an existing line installation for the same products in central Europe prior to the installation of the new machinery in Dubai. This allowed operators to be fully trained as soon as the Dubai lines were up and running.

An embedded Bosch engineer helped with the introduction of the new line technology at Nestlé during all key stages including installation, factory acceptance testing, on-site commissioning and the site acceptance test, and was also available after the Bosch crew had left the site. Nestlé also benefits from Bosch’s E-Portal, an online platform for spare parts ordering that grants the company the autonomy and speed required to reduce downtime and ensure efficiency.