Efficient production network
The Geberit Group operated 26 plants at the end of the reporting year, 22 of which are located in Europe, two in the US, one in China and one in India. The activities of three smaller plants were integrated into other, larger sites due to a lack of critical size and partly poor logistical connections.
- In China, the production capacities at the Shanghai site were expanded, with the majority of activities at the Daishan plant subsequently transferred to Shanghai and integrated there. The remaining products produced in Daishan for the European market were relocated to Ruše (SI) and Ozorków (PL).
- In the US, part of a focussing of activities saw assembly activities concentrated at the plant in Michigan City (Indiana) and casting processes at the plant in Milwaukee (Wisconsin). Some of the processes of the discontinued site in Elyria (Ohio) were outsourced to third parties in order to benefit from more modern processes.
- The activities of the plant in Dymer (UA), which specialised in the manufacture of acrylic bathtubs, were relocated to the plant in Ozorków (PL).
The 26 plants fall into the following three categories depending on the processed materials and production technologies:
- Ceramics (10 plants)
- Plastics & Metal (11 plants)
- Composites & Metal (5 plants)
The productivity of the production network increased in the reporting year by 5.9%. This increase is essentially due to four factors: the continued optimisation of organisation and process workflows, the automation of individual manufacturing steps, the reduction of scrap rates in ceramics production, and the less than proportional low increase in the number of staff in non-manufacturing areas of the company.
Realisation of major projects while also at full capacity
The unexpectedly high sales in the reporting year posed major challenges to the entire production network. The plants and the employees once more demonstrated their high performance and flexibility. At many sites, months of extra shifts were required to simply cope with the order load. Matters were complicated further by the simultaneous shortage of various raw materials. Despite the high capacity utilisation, numerous measures and projects were again initiated, promoted or brought to a conclusion, with the aim of optimising the efficiency of production processes, increasing capacities, and improving energy and material efficiency.
Industrialisation of ceramic production
In ceramic production, the reporting year saw the implementation of a specialisation strategy, which had already been developed in the previous years. At the same time, the automation of production processes was promoted in numerous plants. The most important projects are listed here:
- In future, most ceramics plants will focus on the manufacture of a few product types, whereby very large quantities of these products will be required. For example, the plant in Ekenäs (FI) is to produce washbasins and wall-hung WCs. Geberit started commissioning new and high-performance production facilities that support this specialisation strategy at several production sites in the reporting year.
- Great progress was made in the automation of individual process steps in virtually all ceramics plants. A new high-pressure casting system for washbasin production started operations in Kolo (PL), work began on automating the labour-intensive glazing process in Carregado (PT) and Haldensleben (DE), and investments were made in additional, highly automated production capacities for wall-hung WCs in Ekenäs (FI).
Additional capacities in plastic- and metal-processing plants to handle the sales growth
In the plants where plastic and metal are processed, great efforts were also made to build up the additional capacities needed in the short, medium and long term in good time on the one hand and, on the other, to further improve the efficiency of the existing systems and processes. Some of the key projects included the following:
- The pleasing growth of the Duofix installation elements for concealed cisterns means an extension of the production capacities at the Lichtenstein plant in Saxony (DE) is required, which is why all the necessary steps were taken to expand the plant by around 10,000 m2 in the reporting year. The groundbreaking ceremony for a new administration and technical building is scheduled as early as March 2022. This is to be quickly followed by the construction of an additional factory and logistics hall.
- The expansion of production capacities for concealed cisterns also has the highest priority at the site in Pfullendorf (DE). On the one hand, planning for the structural expansion of the plant was continued and, on the other, an additional production line for manufacturing concealed cisterns started operations. The fully automatic production of the new universal flush valve for all concealed cisterns was also further ramped up.
- In the reporting year, the plant in Ruše (SI) started manufacturing flush tanks and valves for ceramic cisterns to be sold in Northern Europe; to date, the flush technology including plastic flush tank has been sourced from third parties.
- At the plant in Rapperswil-Jona (CH), the capacities set up in the previous year for the large-scale production of pressfittings for the new FlowFit supply system were expanded as planned. At the same site, capacities for the actuator plates and the assembly of the AquaClean Mera shower toilets were also significantly increased.
Flow production principle as a guideline
All Geberit plants display an ongoing capability for renewal. Despite the diversity of the materials and production technologies used, the approach is determined uniformly: whenever appropriate, all measures for improvement are geared to the principle of flow production. Maximum efficiency and flexibility are targeted in this way, which is reflected in the reliable, timely supply of products to customers and savings in important resources such as working time and materials. The benchmarks of flow production are set out in the Geberit Production System (GPS 2.0). GPS 2.0 is the guideline for production processes in which the principles for efficient manufacturing are combined.
Environmental management in production
As already mentioned, continuous improvements at the plants are aimed at increasing efficiency by saving resources. GPS 2.0 ensures that the goals associated with a continuous improvement in sustainability are also taken into account.