On Friday 30 April 2010, Dr Teresa Belmar (Unilever R&D) gave a talk on "The Challenges of manufacturing closer to the consumer".
Teresa talked about the complexity of manufacturing products at Point of Sale/Point of Use from the engineering point of view and the important role of R&D in Unilever to make customised or personalised high quality products. She disussed the challenges involved in manufacturing food products. She presented a case study of personalising skin care products in outlets as Spas. A manufacturing unit was developed for making personalised skin creams and lotions which are user specific, tailored to your own skin specification and needs. Though there are many benefits involved in finishing product manufacture closer to the consumer, there were also challenges to overcome: pumping and continuous mixing of raw ingredients in the unit, issues of cross contamination and preservation to ensure that the product was microbiologically safe. Unilever launched these personalised products into the market in 2008 at the Pond's Institutes in Spain under the brand Pond's Exclusive. This year it will start manufacturing for the Dove Spas in the UK and there are intentions of creating more of these manufacturing units to place in other countries.