Kimberly-Clark to churn out more baby wipes

An employee carrying out quality inspection at Kimberly-Clark's Tuas plant, which produces about 2.4 million baby wipes a year - a capacity that is set to rise to five million by the second quarter of next year.
An employee carrying out quality inspection at Kimberly-Clark's Tuas plant, which produces about 2.4 million baby wipes a year - a capacity that is set to rise to five million by the second quarter of next year.PHOTO: KIMBERLY-CLARK

$18m injection to double output at Tuas plant, add innovation lab

Consumer giant Kimberly-Clark is investing $18 million to double the output for baby wipes at its Tuas plant, while also adding a laboratory to boost product innovation.

Its three products made in Tuas - Huggies diapers, pull-up pants and baby wipes - are now evenly split at the factory, but baby wipes will eventually account for half of the total production capacity.

The plant produces about 2.4 million baby wipes a year - a capacity that is set to rise to five million by the second quarter of next year.

More than half of Kimberly-Clark's 250 or so Singapore workers are based at the Tuas plant, while the level of automation means no new jobs are expected to be added.

The company has already invested about $400 million in Singapore, which houses its Asia-Pacific headquarters. The spending includes an expansion of the Tuas premises in 2016, when two advanced production lines were introduced.

Kimberly-Clark's Asia-Pacific president Achal Agarwal noted that two out of three Huggies baby wipes in the region will be made here once the upgraded plant reaches full capacity.

"I am particularly excited at the additional investments we are making to improve our innovation capability at Tuas, which will help us to create newer, more improved products," he said.

These might be additive-free baby wipes for parents who want all-natural goods, or wipes with extra ingredients such as lotion or aloe vera.

New York-listed Kimberly-Clark sent shock waves around the world in January with its plans to lay off about 12 per cent of its global workforce and shut down 10 factories.

But Mr Agarwal said at the time that "we foresee our presence and involvement in Singapore only growing deeper and broader in the future".

The Asia-Pacific region is the company's second-biggest market after the United States.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2018, with the headline 'Kimberly-Clark to churn out more baby wipes'. Print Edition | Subscribe