Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever is using engineering and robotics supplied by Gebo Cermex for the ‘end-of-line’ production of two haircare packaging lines at its facility in Dubai, UAE in response to growth potential.

Strategic key account director for Unilever at Gebo Cermex, Jean-Philippe Beduneau, explained that the two lines for shampoo and conditioner products deliver 350 products per minute while being able to handle eight different container formats that range from 10cl to 90cl in size.

Said Beduneau: “We have a complete end-of-line solution for bottles with complex shapes in the food, home and personal care sectors, by not allowing mass flow accumulation. We answer requirements such as care handling of containers, flexibility, and the demand for line speed increases. Unilever’s expectations for line speed and maximum time for changeovers, in this case 10 minutes, enabled us to merge modules and technologies like we never did before.”

Given that fast changeovers were key in the design of the system, Gebo Cemex implemented six robots at the product collation stage, using FlowDesigner, a flow management and product tracking device that claims to allow accurate product positioning on the shrink-wrapper infeed conveyor.

Additionally, a single gripping head is integrated for all eight formats and a 3D-printed, light-weight tooling solution was developed that is said to reduce energy consumption by optimising the robot size. The company states that the changeovers can be accessed directly via the HMI without the need for manual intervention.

Global market intelligence publisher Euromonitor predicted that the Middle East African market is expected to be the fastest growing region in the world for beauty and personal care products over the next five years. A ‘Made in the UAE’ slogan created by Unilever suggests that the company is taking advantage of such growth opportunities by strengthening its trademark.

Annually, the Unilever factory produces 500 million items, covering hair and skincare products under the Dove, Fair & Lovely, Lifebuoy, Vaseline, Clear, TRESemme and Sunsilk brands.