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Unilever’s manufacturing site in Hefei, China, joins the WEF’s renowned Global Lighthouse Network


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London / Rotterdam - Today Unilever announced that its manufacturing site in Hefei, China, has been recognized as an ‘Advanced 4th Industrial Revolution Lighthouse’ by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in collaboration with McKinsey & Co. This is the second Unilever site to achieve the prestigious status.

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The Global Lighthouse Network is a community of certified manufacturing sites that are leading in the digital industrial technology space. The network demonstrates leadership in using Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies to transform business operations and advance innovative manufacturing methods.

Hefei Industrial Park is Unilever’s largest production base in the world, manufacturing around 10 million units a day for brands such as Dove, Clear and Lux. The Hefei site has been operating for nearly 20 years and three years ago, it began its digital transformation. This year, the need to address the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated this process.

The site now has a digital end-to-end ecosystem, deploying AI across the production process. Advanced technology has allowed some operators to work from home during lockdown. For example, production lines were re-engineered to allow them to be run remotely and digital performance management was leveraged, a process which monitors productivity and enables timely and digital interventions. The result is an agile production process, improved productivity and increased automation, all of which have helped contribute to safety and efficiency.

Yong-mei Ma, Site Director - Home and Personal Care Greater China, said: “It’s a huge honour for Unilever Hefei to be recognised by the World Economic Forum as a leader in digital production sites. A flexible, strategic and agile approach to logistics has allowed the site to continue manufacturing and supplying essential products to people at a time of global supply chain pressures. Our site’s digitalisation means we are now better equipped with an array of new technical skills. I’m very proud of our site team’s dedication and adaptiveness, working at incredible speed, to make this digital transformation possible.”

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