The factory, which is made of multiple, easy-to assemble components, can be built in half the time of a traditional building for about 50%-60% of the cost, to create production sites in the developing world.
Maggi bouillon cubes
Alfredo Fenollosa, technical head, Nestlé Asia, Oceania and Africa, said the model is an evolution from traditional bricks and mortar factories and it plans to open the first one in Africa followed by Asia.
It is designed to industrialise simple processes like repacking and mixing dry goods such as Maggi bouillon cubes, rather than creating more complex products.
“Big companies traditionally build solid stuff but the lighter structure of this modular factory concept represents a real mindset change for Nestlé,” he said.
The average Nestlé factory takes between 18 and 24 months and costs between $33m and $55m to build.
The modular factory could be complete, and up and running, in less than 12 months, at a cost of between $16m and $27m.
Fenollosa added investing in developing countries can be high-risk because they lack infrastructure, reliable energy sources and building expertise but the modular factory concept can create local jobs, bring the company closer to its customers and its raw materials.
The design includes a shell structure, such as a warehouse, with a factory built inside.
Purpose-built factory sections can then be installed, ready-to-use, directly to the site. For example, it could include a ready-to-use generator and boiler, a staff canteen and changing rooms for factory employees.
The factory can then be expanded, moved or transformed without having to start from scratch.
Nestlé has a history of investing in Africa, opening its first factory, a condensed milk production plant in the South African city of Estcourt in 1927. There are currently 25 factories across the continent and a total of 148 across Asia, Oceania and Africa.