Colgate-Palmolive is introducing state-of-the-art technology into its new Hill’s Pet Nutrition factory as it seeks to overcome capacity constraints that threaten its growth ambitions. Located in Tonganoxie, KS, the 365,000-square-meter factory is the company’s most advanced facility, utilizing artificial intelligence […]
Colgate-Palmolive is introducing state-of-the-art technology into its new Hill’s Pet Nutrition factory as it seeks to overcome capacity constraints that threaten its growth ambitions. Located in Tonganoxie, KS, the 365,000-square-meter factory is the company’s most advanced facility, utilizing artificial intelligence within a digital food safety system, as well as automation and robotics.
The factory utilizes automated guided vehicles and autonomous mobile robots to move materials. Robots are responsible for transferring products and formula samples to the quality lab for testing, reducing the time workers spend on this task and enabling consistent and more frequent quality checks, according to a spokesperson from CGT.
The technologically-enabled “Mission Control Center” utilizes artificial intelligence to provide increased visibility and monitoring throughout the entire pet food cycle, from ingredient reception to packaging. The production process is a completely closed system, from ingredient mixing to cooking and container filling, designed to prevent food exposure to contaminants from the environment, the spokesperson said.
The overall factory design represents a shift in strategic automation and technological advancement in the pet food industry, according to Colgate-Palmolive, and is expected to improve time-to-market by shortening the production cycle.
Impressive growth of Hill’s Pet Nutrition
The new factory in Tonganoxie is expected to result in new product innovations to enhance the Hill’s Pet Nutrition brand, which has been a consistent source of growth for Colgate-Palmolive for several years, partly due to the increasing number of pet ownership. Net sales in the Hill’s segment increased by 16% in Colgate-Palmolive’s last quarter and by 21.5% in the previous quarter, making it one of the best growth drivers, according to CEO Noel Wallace.
However, capacity constraints have hindered growth efforts, leading the company to address this by acquiring three facilities from private label manufacturer Red Collar Pet Foods last year, along with the opening of this new factory. The Tonganoxie factory will allow the company to expand into the wet pet food category, which was previously underrepresented, Wallace said at an investor conference last month.
In addition to the new factory, Colgate-Palmolive is also utilizing decision intelligence in several Hill’s factories, resulting in improved stock distribution operations.