Updated 0834 GMT (1634 HKT) June 24, 2021 更新时间 0834 GMT (1634 HKT) 2021 年 6 月 24 日
Unilever's "nano" or "travel " factory is currently parked at its Foods and Refreshment R&D center in Wageningen, Netherlands.
(CNN)When you think of a factory, you might imagine a giant facility with huge chimneys belching steam. But consumer goods giant Unilever has developed a fully functioning production line inside a shipping container.
The company has over 300 factories in 69 countries, but this is its first experiment with what it calls a "nano" or "travel" factory.
Mass production lines allow manufacturers to make large quantities of products but using the same facilities to produce smaller batches of goods -- to test new ideas or to meet seasonal demand -- can be wasteful and inefficient.
Because of its size, the 40-foot container can be transported by cargo ship or truck to any location, says Unilever. It just needs a source of water and access to electricity to begin production.
The nano factory is currently in the Netherlands, in the middle of its first trial producing liquid bouillon, a cooked stock packed in a bottle. Unilever says the factory is making around 300 tons of bouillon per eight-hour shift.
该公司在 69 个国家/地区拥有 300 多家工厂，但这是它首次尝试所谓的“纳米”或“移动”工厂。 大规模生产线允许制造商生产大量产品，但使用相同的设施生产小批量的产品——测试新想法或满足季节性需求——可能是浪费和低效的。 联合利华说，由于它的尺寸比较小，这个 40 英尺的集装箱可以通过货船或卡车运输到任何地点。 它只需要水源和电力即可开始生产。 纳米工厂目前在荷兰，正在进行第一次试生产液体肉汤，这是一种装在瓶子里的熟汤。 联合利华表示，该工厂每 8 小时轮班可生产约 300 吨肉汤。
Robots are an increasingly familiar presence in warehouses. At the south-east London warehouse run byBritish online supermarket Ocado, 3,000 robots fulfill shopping orders. When an order is sent to the warehouse, the bots spring to life and head towards the container they require. Scroll through to see more robots that are revolutionizing warehouses.
机器人在仓库中越来越常见。 在英国在线超市 Ocado 运营的伦敦东南部仓库中，3,000 台机器人完成购物订单。 当订单被发送到仓库时，机器人就会启动并前往它们需要的容器。 滚动查看更多正在彻底改变仓库的机器人。
According to Marc Engel, Unilever's chief supply chain officer, the whole manufacturing process happens inside the container, starting with processing the raw ingredients, and including packaging the finished product. As the equipment has been specifically developed for small spaces, he says there are some differences to a standard factory, such as using electricity for heat instead of steam.
Engel says the nano factory is fully digitized and has sensors that send live production data to a central control room. While some processes are fully automated, he says three on-site operators are required per shift -- two to activate the production and manage the line and one to manage packaging and take away the final product.
For Engel, one of the most important features of the nano factory is that it's mobile. This allows for greater flexibility to tailor to demand in local markets and to source local ingredients, meaning resources and emissions aren't wasted shipping ingredients and products from faraway, he says.
联合利华首席供应链官马克·恩格尔 (Marc Engel) 表示，从加工原材料开始，到包装成品，整个制造过程都在容器内进行。由于该设备是专门为小空间开发的，他说与标准工厂存在一些差异，例如使用电力而不是蒸汽来加热。
Unilever's nano factory being maneuvered into position in Wageningen, Netherlands.
"Having the nano factory in a shipping container lets us get our production to where it needs to be," Engel says. "Products can be rolled out faster and scale can be ramped up or down quickly to match consumer trends."
The trial of the nano factory started in June, after delays due to Covid-19 restrictions, and will run for the next few weeks, according to Engel.
根据恩格尔的说法，由于 Covid-19 的限制而延迟后，纳米工厂的试验于 6 月开始，并将在接下来的几周内进行。
If the trial is successful, he says Unilever hopes to use the factory to make other products, as well as looking to create new nano factories.
"This small-scale production approach can definitely go beyond liquid bouillon and be used to produce mayonnaise, ice cream and even beauty or home care products," he says. "We are also exploring plans to lease, rent or sell these units to young entrepreneurs."
Richard Wilding, professor of supply chain strategy at Cranfield University, in England, says that if rolled out in greater numbers, these kinds of nano factories could help make manufacturing networks stronger and more specialized, but could also create problems further down the line.
"You are distributing your manufacturing base and that is going to be more resilient, particularly in a Covid world," he says. "But one of the things you have to think about is once the items are actually produced, how do you manage the supply chain to the actual customers?"
Wilding adds that nano factories will require workers to have new skills, which may be challenging to find in some locations. However, he can see a future for these kinds of facilities responding to local needs.
“你正在分配你的制造基地，这将更具弹性，尤其是在 Covid 世界中，”他说。 “但你必须考虑的一件事是，一旦产品实际生产出来，你如何管理到实际客户的供应链？”
"What we could start envisaging, if you've got a large retail outlet or retail complex, why not have a nano factory located at the complex? So it is producing precisely what the customer wants -- more or less on demand," he says.
Engel says a network of nano factories with local supply lines and a centralized controller could be part of Unilever's future.
"The purpose of the nano factory is not to match the output of a big factory with large-scale facilities, but a network of these nano factories would give Unilever greater innovation flexibility," he says. "The future could potentially see a new, dynamic model with local, distributed production lines all over the world, run from a central mothership."