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 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)
Despite the very challenging situation in the reporting year – with strong volume growth in the first six months followed by declining volumes in the second half of the year – productivity in the production network increased by +2.1%.
The war in Ukraine is leading to a high degree of uncertainty regarding local Geberit operations. Geberit’s first priority is the safety of its employees and their families. The production facilities at the ceramics plant in Slavuta in western Ukraine have not suffered damage to date. Production was temporarily stopped in spring 2022 and restarted in May, with production capacities constantly increasing during summer and autumn. Attacks on the energy infrastructure led to sustained power outages in autumn. As a result, production at the plant again had to be completely stopped in the final weeks of the reporting year. Around half of the ceramic appliances manufactured in Slavuta are sold directly on the Ukrainian market.
Realisation of major projects while also at full capacity
High volume fluctuations and bottlenecks in the procurement of raw materials and semi-finished goods meant that the production network was constantly faced with new challenges. The plants and the employees once more demonstrated high levels of performance and flexibility. Until the summer, there were months of extra shifts at many sites to cope with the order load. In late summer, this situation reversed at several plants due to the reductions in inventories at wholesalers, which led to declining volumes. Despite these uncertainties, 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.
Continued specialisation of ceramic production
In ceramic production, the implementation of a specialisation strategy initiated in the previous year was continued in the reporting year. At the same time, the further automation of individual production processes was promoted. The most important projects are as follows:
- The two Scandinavian ceramics plants in Ekenäs (FI) and Bromölla (SE) focus primarily on the needs of the Nordic markets. Above all, cisterns and floor-standing WCs are manufactured in Bromölla and wall-hung WCs and washbasins in Ekenäs. With this in mind, production equipment was relocated during the reporting year. In Ekenäs, eight fully automated, state-of-the-art pressure casting cells were also put into operation.
- The Polish plants in Kolo and Wloclawek also set about implementing a long-term specialisation. Furthermore, the transfer of know-how between the Scandinavian and Polish plants was also stepped up for establishing new pressure casting methods.
- In Carregado (PT), the first step towards automating the labour-intensive glazing process was completed. Furthermore, the replacement of three ageing kilns was initiated with the order of a new, energy-efficient tunnel kiln.
Additional capacities in plastic- and metal-processing plants to safeguard future sales growth
In the plants where plastic and metal are processed, numerous investment projects were promoted to build up the additional capacities needed in the medium and long term in good time and to further improve the efficiency of the processes. Some of the key projects included the following:
- The expansion in capacity at the Lichtenstein plant in Saxony (DE) was tackled in the reporting year. The goal of the project is to expand the plant by around 10,000 m2 in order to create space for setting up a new, fully automated production line for installation elements made of strip steel, and also to gain additional space for logistics, technology and administration.
- At the largest production site in Pfullendorf (DE), the expansion of production capacities for concealed cisterns continued to be a top priority. Additional systems for blow moulding flush tanks were put into operation and new, fully automated production lines for flush valves were established. Moreover, construction work also started on an additional factory building where the highly automated production lines for fill and flush valves will be located in future.
- In Rapperswil-Jona (CH), capacities for manufacturing the fittings used in the FlowFit piping system introduced back in 2021 were expanded due to the high demand.
- In Givisiez (CH), the extrusion lines for FlowFit pipes were automated further resulting in increased capacities.
- At the site in Villadose (IT), a large plot of land was purchased in order to start the planning of an additional expansion to the factory.
- In Langenfeld (DE), the construction of new production lines for Mapress metal bend fittings with medium diameters was completed.
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 Geberit Production System (GPS 2.0) is the guideline for production processes in which the principles for efficient manufacturing are summarised.
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.