At a time when travel is restricted due to COVID-19, Nestlé is expanding the use of augmented reality technology to provide remote support to its production and R&D sites and to connect with suppliers.
Experts across the company and external providers are using remote assistance tools to connect with people at factories and other facilities around the globe. This has raised efficiency across operations and allowed experts to support multiple projects at the same time.
Using tools such as remote desktop, smart glasses, 360 degree cameras and 3D software, specialists can advise on complex tasks without needing to travel to the site.
The technology has been used in projects such as the set-up or redesign of factory lines, vital maintenance work and checking equipment with suppliers.
David Findlay, Global Head of Manufacturing at Nestlé, said: "Protecting our people is a top priority for Nestlé, something that has been clearly demonstrated time and time again during the COVID-19 crisis. The remote support approach isn't just a response to COVID-19 though. Going forward, remote assistance will become a new way of working. It will increase speed and efficiency in facilities and reduce travel to Nestlé sites, helping us reduce CO2 emissions across our operations. I am extremely proud that our teams have been able to expand our use of remote assistance technology so quickly to ensure we were able to continue to provide technical support. That has kept our factories running smoothly and delivered new investment projects on time."
There are many examples of remote support across Nestlé's factories and R&D facilities. For example, R&D teams in Switzerland helped to remotely renew existing and install new production lines and technologies for a dairy ready-to-drink (RTD) factory in Navanakorn, Thailand. The factory was completed ahead of schedule.
They also supported the installation of a new production line for infant cereals in Shuangcheng, China. Additionally, R&D expert teams in the UK worked with suppliers to remotely redesign and successfully test new confectionery molds for KitKat.
Other examples include maintenance work at factories in Columbia and Ecuador or setting up a new pet food line in the United States.
Thomas Hauser, Head of Nestlé Product & Technology Development, said: "To ensure business continuity, we accelerated the use of remote assistance and augmented reality technologies across our global R&D organization. These innovative technologies enabled our experts to provide support to our factories worldwide for critical activities such as the new set-up of production lines, as well as new equipment start-up, helping us to ensure that new product launches were delivered on time to consumers."
Nestlé engineers are continuously scouting for and prototyping emerging technologies. They had already established virtual reality capabilities, and remote guidance had been used with limited scope on several projects.
With restrictions on travel, quarantine measures and the need to maintain distancing on-site with the spread of COVID-19, the need for this innovative approach increased.
"While we were able to quickly activate augmented reality remote support as part of our global COVID-19 IT response, this was not an overnight fix. It is based on our disciplined, forward-looking approach to innovation throughout our operations," said Filippo Catalano, Nestlé Group CIO.
Nestlé is transforming its operations by further digitalizing its supply chains and manufacturing. The goal is to create a competitive edge through data, artificial intelligence, automation and predictive analytics.
Digitalization can also help meet environmental targets such as cutting emissions. Nestlé has committed to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
Access to affordable nutrition is challenging for many consumers worldwide. Nestlé is accelerating its efforts to develop more affordable nutritious products for consumers, particularly those in emerging countries. This enables the company to improve its product offerings for lower-income families, many of whom live on a few dollars a day, often resulting in a lack of essential nutrients in their daily diet.
One example is the recent launch of Nestlé Cerevita Instant Sour Porridge, an affordable nutritious solution for Southeast African consumers. It is made with wholegrain cereals and fortified with key micronutrients, which are typically lacking in local consumer diets. The porridge has a higher fiber and protein content and costs about 20-25% less than the similar products available in local markets.
The porridge was developed and launched in about one year by scientists at Nestlé's R&D Center in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, in collaboration with cross-functional teams from Southeast African markets. The R&D center leveraged its science and technology capabilities to develop a porridge that is adapted to local consumer taste preferences and nutritional requirements while minimizing production costs to ensure affordability.
"The current COVID-19 crisis around the world will lead to a further lack of affordable nutritious foods for many vulnerable consumers. We are increasing our efforts to address affordability by rapidly developing, testing, and launching safe, high-quality, affordable, nutritious products that meet the needs of sub-Saharan African consumers," says Tesfalidet Haile, Head of Nestlé's R&D Center in Abidjan.
The porridge was developed with high-quality, locally and sustainably sourced ingredients, while leveraging existing roller drying and dry-mixing technologies. Nestlé packaging experts also worked alongside local suppliers to develop an affordable, recyclable laminate packaging, which protects the product throughout the shelf-life.
The porridge was first launched in July in Zimbabwe in a limited number of stores, with a nationwide launch and rollout in more countries planned for later this year.
Nestlé's R&D Center in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire is part of the global Nestlé R&D network, which consists of 23 locations worldwide. The center has food technologists, scientists, and engineers who primarily specialize in the innovation of cereal, dairy, snack, and beverage solutions. It also collaborates with local universities and innovation partners. Last year, Nestlé launched an R&D innovation challenge in sub-Saharan Africa, which saw three start-ups embark on a 4-month residency in the Nestlé R&D Accelerator for sub-Saharan Africa, located at the R&D Center in Abidjan.
Nestlé is piloting reusable and refillable dispensers for petcare and soluble coffee as part of its efforts to reduce single-use packaging. The in-store dispensers offer consumers a shopping experience that is free of single-use packaging, along with flexibility and variety of product choice.
Consumers can bring reusable containers to purchase different types of Purina cat food and Nescafé soluble coffee. They can also digitally access product information that is typically found on packaging, such as ingredients, nutritional values and shelf life.
Working in collaboration with the start-up MIWA, Nestlé recently piloted the reusable and refillable dispensers in three Nestlé shops located in Rorschach, Orbe and La Tour-de-Peilz, Switzerland. During a four-month trial period, the dispensers were well received by consumers and Nestlé was able to gain valuable insights including the user-friendliness. To further assess the dispensers’ effectiveness in preventing packaging waste along the supply chain, the dispensers are now being rolled out across more locations in the next few months.
Hélène Lanctuit, R&D Packaging Lead at Nestlé, says: "Packaging plays a key role in maintaining food safety during a product’s shelf life. This means that whenever new packaging systems are explored we need to ensure that our products can be delivered to consumers in a safe and hygienic manner. These dispensers are novel because they incorporate smart technology which allows us to ensure product safety, and also guarantee the freshness and traceability of our products."
The development of innovative, alternative delivery systems such as bulk, reuse and refill options are a key focus area for Nestlé across several product categories. The company has already announced a pilot test for Refill Plus, a water dispenser using state-of-the-art technology, which allows consumers to personalize their water with sixty-four flavor combinations. In partnership with Terracycle, Nestlé is rolling out Loop, a subscription home delivery service in the US and will also introduce it soon in France. Additionally, mini dispensers for Nescafé and Milo are available for the out-of-home segment in many countries around the world.
These innovative systems are part of a broader set of actions to reduce single-use packaging. Building on its commitment to make 100% of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025, Nestlé announced plans to reduce the use of virgin plastics by one third during the same time period.
Bernard Meunier, CEO of Nestlé Purina Petcare EMENA, says: "At Purina, our teams are focused on designing our products and packaging for a more sustainable future. This pilot marks an important step forward in our efforts towards waste reduction and we are proud to play a leading role in testing these innovative dispensers. Offering pet owners the option of using safe reusable and refillable dispensers in-store can help us improve our environmental impact while still providing great quality nutrition for pets."
Philipp Navratil, Global Head of Beverage Strategic Business Unit at Nestlé, Senior Vice-President, says: "As part of Nescafé’s packaging transformation journey, we have been working hard to rethink how we design our packaging for better environmental impact. We are excited to work on a refilling option made possible by our in-store dispensing system for our consumers who want to enjoy their Nescafé experience at home."
- Nestlé Switzerland press release in French | German
- Nestlé inaugurates packaging research institute, first-of-its-kind in the food industry
- Nestlé accelerates action to tackle plastic waste
Nestlé announced today that it would co-fund a new Chair for Sustainable Materials at the EPFL (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne) in Switzerland, together with Logitech, SIG and other industry partners. The chair will focus on the research and development of sustainable materials such as alternative packaging to enable the reduction of plastic waste. Together, the companies have committed to provide CHF 5 million over 10 years.
The funding will support a new chair for sustainable materials research within EPFL's Institute of Materials. The chair, to be appointed as a tenure-track Assistant Professor, will be responsible for developing and implementing a new research program on sustainable materials. Research topics of interest will address critical areas, such as the overall environmental impact of materials and the exploration of bio-based, bio-degradable and recyclable materials, including high-performance paper-based barrier materials that could help to address environmental concerns about plastic packaging, and more.
Stefan Palzer, Nestlé Chief Technology Officer said: "Tackling plastic pollution is a top priority for Nestlé. We continue our efforts to pilot novel approaches for re-use packaging, while also evaluating new recycling technologies and sustainable packaging materials. The development of high performing, environmentally friendly materials requires a fundamental understanding of material structures and properties, which is why we are collaborating with our innovation partners to invest in sustainable material research at EPFL."
"Our specialists are already committed to developing cutting-edge, new materials that will help the world get rid of its dependency on petrol-based products. Building strong relationships with industrial partners is key to have these new products reach customers in the most efficient way," stresses Martin Vetterli, EPFL President.
The discovery and development of functional, safe and environmentally friendly packaging solutions is a key focus for Nestlé. In 2018, the company announced its Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences as an important step further to achieve the company’s commitment to make 100% of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025. The Institute’s broader research partnership with EPFL includes a four-year agreement to support postdoctoral and PhD projects aimed at developing and testing life-cycle engineered food packaging.
Located in Switzerland, EPFL is one of the globally leading Universities in Material and Life Sciences. Both EPFL and Nestlé sit at the heart of a unique Swiss innovation ecosystem, which consists of global companies, scientific institutions, and a large number of start-ups. In 2019, the organizations joined forces with the Swiss Canton of Vaud and the Swiss Hospitality Management School in Lausanne (EHL Group) to launch the Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley to attract further talents, start-ups and investments to Switzerland.
Nestlé has launched nesQino – a smart and simple solution that enables people to personalize healthy superfood drinks made from 100% natural ingredients, at home or in the office.
First launched in China, nesQino comprises a silent, digitally connected Q-cup machine, superfood sachets, and three different base sachets: smoothie, oat shake and milk shake.
With nesQino, consumers can make 21 different superfood drink recipes designed by creative nutritionists using different types of ingredients known to be healthy.
Alfred Yoakim, Head of Nestlé System Technology Centre, said: "In 18 months the team has developed a full range of products and system for nesQino. It is completely new in the Nestlé world, with all kinds of natural ingredients and superfoods. We also designed the Q-cup to blend the product perfectly and release the natural goodness of these ingredients."
Mayank Trivedi, Head of Nestlé's Dairy Strategic Business Unit, said: "nesQino is a personalized solution that reinvents good-for-you drinks to create wellness that fits the lives of our consumers. In all our recipes, we've used a selection of natural ingredients known to do you good, to create delicious customizable drinks."
The superfood sachets are made from ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, roots and microalgae. They also have probiotics to help boost overall wellbeing. Complementary base sachets are made from dairy milks, cereals, and plant-based ingredients.
Using advanced flash-freezing and drying techniques, combined with patented powder technologies developed by the Nestlé R&D team, the ingredients are naturally preserved with no additives, preservatives, artificial colors or flavors. The packaging is recyclable in China.
People simply choose one superfood sachet and one base sachet, pour the contents into the Q-cup with water and select the desired temperature – for a hot or cold beverage ready in just two minutes.
The nesQino smartphone mini program (app) allows consumers to personalize drink temperature, explore recipe combinations, access nutritional information, and interact and share recipes with friends.
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Nestlé has launched Unleashed , a new accelerator program in pet care. The Nestlé Purina program is part of the global initiative to accelerate innovation, addressing fast-changing consumer needs and major challenges linked to the future of food and nutrition. The program aims to identify and support dynamic and creative start-ups that integrate science and technologies into innovative products and services for pets.
Unleashed leverages Nestlé Purina's Research and Development expertise and its commercial reach to foster the growth of selected start-ups. Starting in July 2020, the program gives start-ups access to pet health and nutrition expertise, proof of concept funding, as well as established commercial networks.
Dan Smith, Vice President, Research and Development, Nestlé Purina said: "Unleashed contributes to building an ecosystem in pet care where experts and innovators come together and help promote pet health and wellbeing, creating better lives for pets and the people who love them."
"In addition to support, advice and funding to prove their concept, start-ups will have access to a wide range of competences at Nestlé Purina, including training, learning and networking opportunities. We want to facilitate connections with our businesses to help the start-ups find synergies and inspiration."
Unleashed is calling for start-ups with a creative mindset and promising technologies including in the areas of personalized nutrition, proactive health & wellness and sustainable solutions including packaging.
Start-ups will be evaluated for the relevance of their business idea, scalability and business model sustainability. They will be supported by a Nestlé Purina multi-disciplinary team to help them validate their concepts within 6 months. Each selected start-up will receive funding up to CHF 50,000. Applications for the first call will close on the 31st of March 2020. The program is starting in Europe, Middle East and North Africa.
Unleashed is a spin-off from the global acceleration program that was kicked off last year with the creation of the Nestlé R&D Accelerator in Lausanne, Switzerland, that was established with the objective of rapidly translating innovative ideas and concepts into new products and services across business categories. The Nestlé R&D Accelerator provides scientists, students and start-ups access to Nestlé R&D expertise and infrastructure.
Nestlé Purina has developed the first and only cat food that reduces the allergens in cat hair and dander. Purina Pro Plan LiveClear is a 100% complete, nutritious and balanced dry cat food that significantly has been shown to significantly reduce the allergens in cat hair and dander in as little as three weeks when fed daily.
The breakthrough product stems from more than a decade of research dedicated to finding a safe, effective way to improve quality of life for cats and their owners.
As many as one in five adults worldwide are sensitized to cat allergens, therefore limiting interactions between owners and their cats. Current methods for managing cat allergens often include limiting time with the cat, isolating the cat in the home or removing the cat from the home altogether.
“Many people think that cat hair is the root of their problem,” explained Ebenezer Satyaraj, PhD, immunologist for Nestlé Purina Research and lead investigator for the research, “but it’s actually what’s on it – the major cat allergen called Fel d 1, a protein that cats produce naturally in their saliva.”