The world’s first ice cream factory to join the WEF Lighthouse Network


Flagship sites adopt and deploy Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies to transform business operations through innovation, sustainable practices and maximum efficiency. The TaiCang site is the third Unilever factory to achieve this status.

The TaiCang site has been in operation since 1996 and now produces 2 million ice creams per day, for brands such as Magnum, Cornetto and Wall’s. That’s the equivalent of 60 million liters of ice cream each year. The factory’s adoption of new technologies, such as digital smart machines and AI, resulted in increased speed and agility and paved the way for flagship status.

Unilever said the technology used at TaiCang has enabled the factory team to become more agile and efficient, responding to rapid consumer demand following the unprecedented boom in e-commerce. The average changeover time for a production line (switching from Magnum vanilla to chocolate, for example) has gone from eight hours to nine minutes.

Digital platforms get the latest information from consumers through e-commerce and social media channels, and one-click AI sales forecasting is able to accurately predict demand. Being able to combine consumer insights with a digital R&D platform also reduced the innovation timeframe, from 12 to 3 months.

The digital transformation of the factory has also accelerated sustainable development efforts. Carbon emissions were reduced by 83%, while electricity and water consumption was reduced by 14%. The site is on track to be carbon neutral over the next two years, contributing to Unilever’s goal of having zero emissions from its global operations by 2030.

Jennifer Han, Food and Beverage Supply Chain Manager at Unilever, said: “We are delighted that TaiCang is part of the prestigious Lighthouse Network. By digitally transforming our value chains, we have been able to meet rapid consumer demands and continue to produce our iconic and highly regarded ice cream brands on a large scale. In addition, innovative technologies have enabled our factory workers to harness new digital skills. “

Marc Engel, Supply Chain Director at Unilever, said: “Unilever is digitizing its supply chain. The adoption of new technologies by the TaiCang site has increased the efficiency and agility of the plant. He saw a 42% reduction in manufacturing costs, while increasing the market share of ice cream in China. TaiCang site presents a new kind of smart manufacturing; one that combines productivity and competitiveness with environmental efforts. We see this as the future of manufacturing.

About Thomas B. Countryman

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