VEVEY, SWITZERLAND — The average Nestle manufacturing plant takes 18 to 24 months to build at an investment between $34 million and $55 million. A new modular design the company is considering may prove to be much more cost effective, able to be constructed in less than 12 months at a cost of $17 million to $28 million.

“The model is a real evolution from the traditional bricks and mortar factories of the past,” said Alfredo Fenollosa, Nestlé’s technical head for Asia, Oceania and Africa. “Big companies traditionally build solid stuff but the lighter structure of this modular factory concept represents a real mindset change for Nestle. We hope to be able to apply it soon in countries in Africa, and in some parts of Asia.”

The modular factory will be made of multiple, easy-to assemble component sections designed to offer a flexible, simple and cost-effective solutions for creating production sites in the developing world, according to the company.

Currently, Nestle uses a “box-in-box” model, which is a shell such as a warehouse with manufacturing plant inside. The company said the modular factory takes the concept a step further, using a series of purpose-built factory sections that may be brought, ready-to-use, directly to the site and connected to each other according to requirements. It may include, for example, a ready-to-use generator and boiler, a staff canteen and changing rooms for plant employees.

The factory may then be expanded, moved or its function changed without having to start from scratch. The company also said the modular concept is designed to industrialize simple processes like repacking and mixing dry goods such as Maggi bouillon cubes, rather than creating more complex products.