Issue April / May 2007
Flexible formulations from Lilleborg
Established in Norway in 1833, Lilleborg AS produces a wide range of personal hygiene and cleaning products for both the professional and the consumer market.
The company was one of the first in Norway to start manufacturing brand name products and currently operates three Norwegian factories, employing 595 staff.
Based in Oslo, the company is the largest manufacturer of branded liquid detergents in Scandinavia and one of the most flexible in Europe in terms of formulations, packaging, batch sizes and production runs. The company exports between 30 and 40 per cent of its products, mainly to Europe, including well-known brands Comfort, OMO and Coral, with its key markets being Holland, Norway and Sweden.
Factory director Knut Eckhoff says: “We have one of the most complex liquid detergent factories within Europe because we produce a whole range of cleaning products such as bleach, hand dish washing liquids, rinse aid, fabric softeners, laundry liquids and GPC (general purpose cleaning) products.”
The cleaning products can be supplied in bottles and pouches for consumer use, or in bulk for industrial customers in road tankers, IBCs (intermediate bulk containers) barrels and canisters. The company is owned by the Orkla Group, which has divisions in branded consumer goods, speciality materials and financial investments, and is one of the largest companies in Norway with approximately 27,000 employees.
Lilleborg has considerable experience in manufacturing and has been successfully catering for the cleaning and hygiene market for more than 170 years. By the end of the 20th century, Lilleborg had become the largest company of its kind in Norway and many of the company’s brands that are still popular in Europe today, such as Lano, Solidox and Lux, were launched back in the 1930s.
Knut believes Lilleborg’s success is due to its ability to develop new products whilst maintaining high standards: “The company’s key strength is its ability to innovate while simultaneously handling complex requirements and producing special products.”
Continuing, he adds: “Speed and reliability are also excellent. We can produce 250 bottles per minute and our flexibility is such that we can deliver products in many ways, ranging from 0.5 to one-litre bottles to canisters holding up to 25 litres to barrels/IBCs holding up to 1000 litres to road tankers which can hold 24 tonnes.”
Flexibility, especially with regards to packaging and the size of each production run, sets the company apart from its competitors and Lilleborg can customise its products to individual requirements. Knut explains: “For export customers we mainly manufacture products based on their specifications. There is a close relationship throughout development because they present their formulation and we then transfer it into a process, all the while maintaining close co-operation.”
Lilleborg is a purely brand-name manufacturer of a variety of cleaning and hygiene products and in 1997 a new laundry detergent factory was opened in Ski, southeast of Oslo. The company has since implemented TPM (Total Productive Management) enabling it to create a safer, more harmonious working environment and focus on equipment efficiency. The process plant and filling equipment have both been designed to high standards of hygiene in order to ensure high product quality throughout the entire range.
“Our factory in Ski is one of the most advanced production facilities of its kind in Europe,” says Knut. “One part of the factory produces for the consumer market and is highly automated production. The other part produces for the professional market and has a huge production capacity. The best way to compete in this market is by providing a high level of customer service, so we have a maximum waiting time of three days from when the order is placed to delivery.”
Introducing new machinery to update the factories is important says Knut: “It’s an ongoing process very much driven by innovation. Every time we get a new format or a new product that requires new technology then we invest in new machinery.”
Therefore, the constant evolution of formulations is fundamental to the company’s continued success. “Introducing new formulations is a continuous process,” explains Knut. “At least 10 per cent of our formulations were completely new last year and around once a month we have a formulation change initiated by the company’s large research and development team of about 35 staff, located at our head office.”
With thoughts on the company’s future and how it will improve even further, Knut concludes: “For the Ski factory itself, we will continue to focus on improvements in the way it is run as well as on improving flexibility and efficiency. Future growth for the entire company will be based on innovation because that is the most effective way to win a larger share of the market.”
Products: Hygiene and cleaning products