United States consumer products giant Kimberly-Clark has expanded its manufacturing facilities in Singapore by adding three new lines.
The lines make Huggies baby wipes, using advanced and automated technology, and diaper pants.
Kimberly-Clark's latest investment at its Tuas plant brings its total investment here to $400 million.
The products will be exported to 11 countries in the region, including China and Australia. The Asia-Pacific is Kimberly-Clark's biggest international region by revenue.
"The perception is that Singapore must be expensive. But because of good talent, productivity can be high and cost low. So from a logistics and productivity point of view, it makes sense to export from here," said the firm's Asia-Pacific region president, Mr Achal Agarwal.
Speaking yesterday at the launch of the new lines, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran said Singapore will focus on advanced manufacturing capabilities and workforce upskilling to remain competitive as technological advancements disrupt traditional ways of production. "Manufacturing continues to be a key pillar of Singapore's economy, contributing nearly 20 per cent of our nominal gross domestic product in 2015.
"Advanced manufacturing has been identified as a key growth sector with significant opportunities for Singapore," Mr Iswaran said.
The Tuas plant expansion will "incorporate a high level of automation for the manufacturing of baby wipes, which will bring about significant productivity improvements".
Kimberly-Clark set up an office here in 1981. Its Tuas plant began operating in 2003 and by 2012, the firm had established its Asia-Pacific regional headquarters here.
Today, it employs more than 240 staff, mostly Singaporeans and permanent residents.
Automated from start to finish
Kimberly-Clark's Tuas plant had just two manufacturing lines when it opened in 2003. With the addition of the new lines, there will now be five. One of the new lines will produce Huggies Gentle Care baby wipes.
The Tuas plant is one of six plants globally to manufacture Huggies baby wipes and its patented material.
The system that adds purified water to the baby wipe raw material was developed in partnership with a local firm.
Every step of the production process, from raw material input and manufacturing to testing and packaging, is fully automated.
Another line will produce thick baby wipes. A third will produce premium diaper pants with different designs for boys and girls.
Kimberly-Clark will train its employees to operate the advanced production lines. The firm said 30 new jobs were created and 20 existing jobs upskilled with the lines' opening.