Bernardo M. Villegas
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A Paragon of Agro-Industrialization (Part 2)

             One can envision the future of Philippine manufacturing in the very modern plant of D&L Premium Food (DLPF) and Natura Aeropack (NAC) in the First Industrial Township located in Tanuan, Batangas. First, it addresses the challenge of adding more value to the agricultural raw materials that we produce on land and sea.  This is called the industrialization of the agricultural sector, one of the four strategic directions the BBM government should be following, the other three being farm consolidation, product diversification and digitalization.   Second, it shows the commitment to sustainable development of a manufacturing facility in providing customized solutions to the industries in which it participates.  Built to supply the needs of both the domestic and export markets for at least the next fifteen years, these two subsidiaries of D&L Industries continuously challenge themselves to ensure a progressive and cleaner production and operations.

            DLPF and NAC are strategically located within the industrial corridor of the next Metro Manila, the CALABARZON region, that for at least the last decade or so has been growing its GDP at almost double the rate of the National Capital Region (NCR).  It is just thirty kilometers from the Port of Batangas, which is one of the three Philippine international ports that a study of the USAID in conjunction with the Center for Research and Communication identified would replace the Port of Manila as the leading international port of the Philippines.  The advantage of the Batangas Port is that it is more a gateway to both the world and to the rest of the Philippines than the Manila port which is inconveniently located (the other two are Iloilo and Cagayan de Oro).  Another strategic advantage as far as source of raw materials is concerned is that it is  in very close proximity to one of the largest producers of coconut oil which is the province of Quezon.  There are existing plans to consolidate the small coconut farms in Quezon Province into larger corporate farms of thousands of hectares each.  This could lead to a quantum leap in the productivity of coconut farming.

            As a crucial aspect of D&L Industries’ commitment to sustainability of the environment, the enterprise maintains a vigilant environmental surveillance program that closely monitors its daily operations in the factory complex.  Its primary goal is to foster a sustainable operational environment throughout the entire facility.  In our factory visit to their site in Batangas, we saw how a centralized watchtower not only houses comprehensive control systems but also serves as a vantage point for monitoring the entire facility.  This strategic setup enables the company to proactively ensure that the manufacturing processes align with the avowed sustainability objectives.  By actively monitoring and controlling their operations, management is able to create an environmentally responsible and harmonious workspace.

            D&L Industries pays more than lip service to Green Architecture.  By incorporating efficient systems and innovative processes into its operations, it strives to not only minimize the environmental footprint but also promotes healthier and more sustainable living environments for the benefit of present and future generations.  Although its production of coco chemicals is still very much part of Industrial Revolution 2.0, it is already making a significant contribution to Industrial Revolution 4.0 with the use of a lot of instrumentation and controls which help to monitor their energy usage and make adjustments to reduce waste.  The management of the two factory operations have installed biomass-fed boilers and other energy efficiency systems, and have preparatory studies for roof-mounted solar panels which can reduce energy usage.  There is also a system of recovering and reusing liquid effluent from incoming and outgoing water treatments as well as steam condensate, thus reducing water wastage.  As a laudable example of industrial cooperation, there is a Common District Cooling System together with other synergies among the other locators in the township.

            Natura Aeropack assists especially consumer brands to make the 360 degree shift to sustainability with its high-impact packaging products, innovative services and social programs.  A full-scale manufacturer, Natura Areopack supports brand owners on their sustainability journey in a holistic and integrated manner.  From sustainable product creation and supply chain logistics to efficient biodegradable packaging and community development, this manufacturing company has covered the sustainability needs of their B2B clients from start to finish.

            This service to their clients is achieved through a high-impact strategy that begins with sustainable coconut-based ingredients, pack-at-source logistics and innovative eco-friendly packaging—culminating in social development programs that help coconut farmers, their families and communities.  NAC provides natural and sustainable alternatives to controversial palm oil- and petroleum-based ingredients.  The coconut-derived portfolio of emollients, foam boosters and surfactants are used in a variety of consumer products ranging from cosmetics to personal and home care.  Vertical integration helps NAC to own and control the entire supply chain---from sourcing raw materials to packaging the final product.  Its $300 million state-of-the-art factory and in-house expertise help streamline the client’s supply chain and reduce its brand’s CO2 footprint—all while elevating performance and quality standards at competitive prices.

            This vertical integration also gives NAC a unique sustainability advantage, i.e. significant carbon footprint reduction via its “Pack-at-Source” model.  Since the Company controls the production process, “pack-at-source” removes the need to transport components from one manufacturer to another, stream-lined logistics reduces CO2 and GHG emissions while significantly saving on shipping costs for the consumer brands concerned.  In addition, NAC has propriety packaging and material innovations such as NEU, an eco-friendly alternative to fossil-fuel based plastic resins made from sustainable materials.  The company also offers aluminum, glass and tin packaging—all of which are recyclable. 

            As regards DLPF, its products are straight oils, specialty fats, customized food oils and specialty ingredients. These ingredients serve as the building blocks for an impressive array of products, spanning from dressings to ready-to-use  (RTU) sauces and syrups. In addition, the product lines include various powder mixes, such as premixes, beverage blends, and other culinary  solutions.  All derived from coconuts, the DLPF products make a significant contribution to more healthy diets.

            In the area of human resource development, the D & L Industries group is a pace-setter in the most important task of upskilling, reskilling and retooling technical workers which are now in very short supply because of the penchant of both parents and young people to prefer a college diploma to acquiring relevant industrial skills.  Through the Lao Foundation, D&L Industries is partnering with such progressive TESDA-type schools like Dualtech Training Center and the Don Bosco technical schools to prepare the youth, especially among marginalized families, for occupations that require technical skills rather than college diplomas.  A good number of these scholars come from coconut-farming households.  Through the dualvoc system made popular by the Germans, these young people are enable to acquire a solid basic education as well as to hone their technical skills through in-plant exposure, mentoring and training. The various subsidiaries of the D&L group readily employ these highly trained young workers that are products of the dualvoc system. It can said that D&L is contributing significantly to one of the priority items mentioned by President BBM in his latest SONA, which was about reconfiguring the curriculum of the K to 12 basic education curriculum to give more importance to TESDA-type schools in order to increase the number of technical workers needed for industrialization.  For comments, my email address is bernardo.villegas@uap.asia.