Business and financial review
Commitment to innovation
For Geberit, a clear commitment to innovation is indispensable. To that end, the Company again invested significant resources in new and advanced development of products and technologies in 2011. In addition to high quality, longevity and easy installation, new products also feature the economical use of water and energy in combination with the highest level of hygiene and optimized acoustic characteristics.
The innovation strength, which is above-average when compared to the industry sector, helps to ensure the Group’s long-term success. Successful research and development (R&D) activities are the prerequisite for this. In the year under review, Geberit invested CHF 48.4 million (prior year CHF 44.2 million) or 2.3% of its sales in the future of its products. Expenses increased by 9.5% compared to the prior year. Additionally, in the scope of → investments in property, plant and equipment and intangible assets, considerable sums were invested in tools and equipment for newly developed products. The Company applied for 22 patents in the past year, bringing the total for the last five years to 95.
All new product developments at Geberit undergo a structured innovation and development process. This process ensures that the creative potential of the Group is used to the optimum and that the development activities focus on the needs of the market. In order to support its internationalization efforts, the Company maintains development competence centers of its own in China and the US. To this end, Geberit China has had the latest infrastructure facilities since the new headquarters were opened in Shanghai (CN) in 2010. The focus of all new product developments is on the customer benefit and the system approach.
Products with strong environmental performance
With industry-leading research and development, Geberit has for decades concentrated on environmentally friendly products and meeting the needs of the worldwide growth market for green building. Geberit products are also impressive because of their high recyclability and environmental compatibility. The Company's greatest environmental performance, however, is a result of the contribution to the ever more important worldwide → topic of water conservation. According to one model calculation, the entire dual-flush and flush-stop “fleet of cisterns” produced since 1998 has saved about 12,000 million cubic meters of water in comparison with traditional flushing systems. In 2011 alone, the water saved amounted to 1,700 million cubic meters. This is more than half of the annual consumption of all German households.
The basis for sustainable products is a systematic innovation process, in which the environmentally friendliest materials and functional principles possible are chosen, risks are minimized and a high level of resource efficiency is targeted both for the production process and the product itself. Eco-Design workshops, in which different disciplines cooperate and ensure that every new product exceeds its predecessor in environmental aspects, are an integral part of the early development phase. Specially created product life cycle assessments are important decision-making aids and provide arguments for the use of products that conserve resources in construction projects. Detailed life cycle assessments have already been prepared for the following products: drainage pipes, AquaClean 8000plus, concealed cistern, urinal flush controls and supply pipes. A new life cycle assessment has also been prepared for the 185/186 electronic lavatory taps.
Six Geberit products already classified with WELL
The WELL label (Water Efficiency Label) of the European umbrella organization for faucet manufacturers EUnited that was introduced at ISH 2011, the world's largest sanitary trade fair, in Frankfurt (DE), is intended to address the growing environmental awareness of consumers. WELL takes its direction from the well-known and well-established efficiency labels for electric household appliances and fulfills a similar function. WELL provides consumers with information about the product's water efficiency at a glance. The new classification system will also encourage responsible use of the resource of water. WELL uses a scale of A to D for products for home use and A to F for products for use in public areas. The WELL label was granted to six Geberit products in 2011:
|A:||-||Sigma concealed cistern (UP320)|
|-||Monolith sanitary module|
|B:||-||Pneumatic urinal flush control|
|A:||-||Sigma concealed cistern (UP320) with touchless dual flush|
|-||electronic urinal flush control|
|-||touchless lavatory taps 185/186|
New products prove their mettle
Diverse product launches marked 2011:
- One particular innovation is the → Geberit DuoFresh as a concealed cistern with integrated odor extraction. The new solution ensures that odors are directly suctioned out of the toilet bowl through the flush water inlet, purified with active carbon and then released back into the room. The user enjoys greater convenience and avoids additional ventilation of the bathroom with its associated heat loss. The Geberit DuoFresh was awarded the design prizes “Design Plus” and “Plus X Award” as the best product of the year for 2011 on the criteria of quality, functionality, ergonomics and design. Annual operation of the concealed odor extraction unit for a family of four consumes less than 5% of the energy that would be lost by cracking the window for ten minutes after each use in the winter. In the case of longer ventilation times, the proportion drops accordingly.
- With a new, → surface-even actuator plate that can be built into the wall Geberit fulfills the most stringent requirements of architects, for whom the design of aesthetically superior bathrooms is becoming ever more important.
- After being redesigned as a comprehensive system in 2010, the → Pluvia roof drainage system was further optimized and tailored to diverse needs.
- Building walls in Australia are often only 7.6 centimeters thick, but standard concealed cisterns measure 12 centimeters. The technology for the Australian market was adapted accordingly so that an → extra-thin concealed cistern that can easily be installed in Australian building walls is now available. Use of this water-saving cistern holds great potential in a country often confronted with water shortages.
- The wishes of plumbers have been accommodated in the further development of the new → pressing tools for the Mapress and Mepla piping systems: The tools in the Serie 202 line are lighter, faster, smaller and easier to handle. Thanks to their new lithium-ion batteries, the ACO 202 model must be recharged less frequently, which means fewer interruptions in the work.
Various new product introductions are again slated for 2012:
- After the extremely successful launch of the Monolith toilet module two years ago, the success story will now be continued with the introduction of modules for → washbasins and bidets. In the process, the various usable spaces in a bathroom will be bundled together. Using the sanitary module for washbasins as an example, this means that functions such as countertops, storage space and towel rails as well as all the technology for fastening, water connections and trap form a unit that can be equipped with numerous commercially available taps and washbasins. The same philosophy is behind the modules for WCs or bidets.
- In 2012 a → WC sanitary module for the Chinese market tailored to local needs and unique in its segment will be ready for market launch.
- Environmentally friendly products for public areas that reduce water consumption have been available for several years in the Type 185 and 186 electronic lavatory taps. These taps bearing the water-efficiency WELL label ensure economical consumption by means of control electronics. Available in spring 2012, a → new generator unit uses the energy of the flowing tap water to generate the necessary electricity, making electronic taps independent of mains current and batteries. The new generator is based on intelligent energy management that expediently unites use, ecology and practical installation in one device. High-performance batteries with a service life of at least ten years eliminate the need to change batteries regularly, reduce maintenance costs and save service calls. All parts can be separated and recycled, and the generator entails less hazardous waste than batteries. Electrical wires and power outlets are not needed, which makes planning and installation considerably easier.
- Operation of the new → Sigma80 actuator plate is touchless and therefore meets the most stringent requirements for design, hygiene and convenience. Placing a hand in front of the light field (available in five different colors) suffices to actuate the dual-flush mechanism. Everything else is done by the servo technology integrated in the cistern.
- A → concealed cistern developed specifically to meet the needs and installation practices of the Indian market will be launched in the beginning of 2012. For the first time, beginning at the end of 2012, Geberit will be able to manufacture this product with proven Geberit quality directly in India at a plant currently under construction. Customers in the Indian market will benefit from short transport distances.
Please refer to the → 2012 new products brochure for further information on new products.