Product management and innovation
Management approach product management and innovation
Sustainable products play a pivotal role for Geberit in generating added value for customers and society and for contributing to sustainable development as set out by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Geberit’s innovative strength, which is above average for the sector, is founded on its own, wide-ranging research and development (R&D) activities. 27 patents were applied for in the reporting year – and a total of 180 patents over the past five years. In the reporting year, a total of CHF 72 million (previous year CHF 78 million) – or 2.1% of net sales – was invested in the development and improvement of products, processes and technologies, not to mention investments in tools and equipment for the manufacture of newly developed products. The scientists and engineers at Geberit have the very latest technologies and infrastructures at their disposal for their development projects, and these are modernised and expanded on an ongoing basis. Worthy of particular mention here are the possibilities for simulating production processes, the rapid and cost-effective production of prototypes thanks to outstanding 3D printing capacities and the ability to thoroughly inspect prototypes and series parts.
With its wide range of products in front of and behind the wall, Geberit spans the entire flow of water within a building and helps to optimise significant aspects of the system as a whole, such as water and energy consumption or sound insulation. In addition to its quality, durability and high degree of water and resource efficiency, the Geberit product range also impresses with its good environmental compatibility and recyclability. The basis for sustainable products is a systematic innovation process in which the most environmentally friendly materials and functional principles possible are chosen, risks are minimised and a high level of resource efficiency is targeted for the production process as well as the product itself.
For an overview of product development topics, see Business Report > Business and financial review > Financial Year 2022 > Innovation. For an overview of new products, see New products.
Geberit regards eco-design as the key to environmentally friendly products. The aim is to develop and optimise products in such a way that each new product adds value in ecological terms, either because material, water or energy have been saved, the products can be recycled more easily, or because less CO2 is emitted during production. Eco-design has been an integral part of the development process since 2007. Employees from different disciplines take part in eco-design workshops so that each new product outperforms its predecessor in environmental aspects. More than 180 eco-design workshops have already been held as part of the development process for new products. The workshops involve systematic product analysis that covers the entire life cycle, a review of legal requirements and an analysis of competing products. In addition, they ensure that environmentally relevant data is collected and made available for later use, something which is of particular benefit to digital planning using BIM (Building Information Modelling). Based on the findings of these eco-design workshops, new solutions such as “Design for Recycling” are developed and, where fit for purpose, adopted into the specifications for that product.
Specially created product life cycle assessments are important decision-making tools for the development process and provide arguments for the use of resource-efficient products. The environmental product declarations (EPDs) in accordance with the European standard EN 15804 are also important and can also be used directly for certification systems for sustainable building such as LEED. EPDs present relevant, comparable and verified environmental data on products in a transparent manner. Environmental product declarations have been created for the following products: AquaClean Mera and Sela shower toilets, Piave, Brenta as well as type 185 and type 186 electronic washbasin taps, urinal systems, sanitary ceramics, PE, Silent-db20, Silent-PP and Silent Pro drainage pipes, as well as drinking water pipes and fittings for FlowFit, Mapress Stainless Steel, and, most recently, the Duofix WC element. This means that products with an EPD now account for around 30% (previous year 23%) of Group sales. In the reporting year, efforts were also made to simplify the EPD creation process with the aid of external software and publication on the EPD Hub.
The biggest environmental contribution made by Geberit products lies in the conservation of water. An analysis of the entire value chain in the form of a water footprint shows that nearly 100% of water consumption is attributable to product use.
Geberit also advocates the economical use of water beyond processes and products. In 2017, it was involved in the establishment of the Unified Water Label Association (UWLA; formerly European Bathroom Forum). The UWLA water label aims to support customers in the selection of resource-efficient products. Geberit actively endorses assessment criteria that allow for an effective differentiation of water-saving products in an effort to meet EU targets for resource efficiency.
The environmental impacts of Geberit’s products are improved continually through the consistent application of eco-design principles in product development. Current examples that make a particular contribution to reducing environmental impact or water consumption and CO2 emissions are as follows:
- Acanto WC with TurboFlush – allows for improved flushing-out performance thanks to optimised hydraulics, with minimal water consumption.
- iCon toilet range with Rimfree Plus technology and flush valve type 212 – allows for optimal setting of the flush volume and flush performance with minimal water consumption.
- Dual-flush unit type 212 for cisterns – flexible setting of the flush volume, backwards-compatible and allows for optimum flushing-out of the WC pan with minimal water consumption.
- Fill and flush valves for floor-standing WCs in the Nordic markets – with flush volumes of up to 4/2 litres and the share of plastic regranulate used exceeding 50%.
- Fill valve type 333 for cisterns – flow-optimised, very quiet, and uses 11% less material in the manufacturing process, with around 20% of the plastic in the valve made up of regranulate.
- Constant expansion of the range of rimless WC pans helps to simplify cleaning and cut down on cleaning agents.
- CleanLine50 shower channel – slim design, integrated slope, and 50% less material used.
- ProTect Silent sound-insulating panel for the prewall – fewer resources used compared with standard construction, good recyclability, and 60% of the material used comes from recycled PET bottles.
- Optimised SuperTube building drainage system – lack of a ventilation pipe helps save materials and space in the building.
- Flow-optimised FlowFit piping system for drinking water and heating applications – ergonomically optimised, made of halogen-free materials, and includes a system for returning used protective caps and pressing indicators.
- Purchase of high-quality CO2 certificates for ceramic appliances in selected series as part of a forest conservation project run by the Swiss myclimate foundation in Tanzania to compensate for unavoidable CO2 emissions generated during ceramic production.