At the end of the reporting year, the Geberit Group operated 30 plants, six of which are located overseas. The plants fall into the following three categories depending on the production technologies used:
- Ceramic moulding (CER)
- Injection moulding, blow moulding, assembly (IBA)
- Extrusion, metalforming and thermoforming, assembly (EFA)
The sale of the company Varicor, including the plant in Wisches (FR), was announced in January 2017. Due to its specialisation in the manufacture of customised products made of the solid surface material Varicor, the site occupied a special position within the Group. However, Varicor remains an important partner for Geberit as a strategic supplier.
In July 2017, the result of a strategic review of two plants owned by the French subsidiary Allia that had been announced in the previous year were made known. Accordingly, in agreement with the trade unions and following approval by the authorities, the La Villeneuve-au-Chêne site was closed and ceramics production in Digoin was discontinued. In addition to a social plan, the agreement included the continuation of a packaging and logistics area in Digoin for the French market.
Focus on continuous flow production
The workshop principle of step-by-step manufacturing is increasingly becoming a thing of the past in production at Geberit. It is being replaced by a comprehensive system of continuous flow production aimed at maximising efficiency and greatest possible value added. The methods used here are described in detail in the Geberit Production System (GPS 2.0). The effectiveness of these methods is subject to an ongoing review on many levels. It is a fixed agenda item at the annual Group-wide plant manager meeting as well as at the meeting for production managers. At the local GPS manager level, the focus is on the consistent orientation towards improvements in efficiency and quality, combined with a link to concrete projects involving the responsible employees.
In the reporting year, the efforts made in this regard concerned all three production areas (CER, IBA and EFA). They ranged from the principle of continuous improvement that is lived and breathed each day to complex infrastructure projects. In terms of the latter, the conversion and new-build work at the site in Langenfeld (DE) were paramount. Parallel to the successful relocation of the production of labour-intensive metal fittings to Ozorków (PL) and of logistics to Pfullendorf (DE), work has already begun on using the newly gained space to further establish the principle of continuous flow production. An important milestone was reached in September 2017 with the ground-breaking ceremony for a new production hall that is fully committed to this principle.
Crucial initial steps with regard to continuous flow production were also taken in the ceramics plant in Ekenäs (FI), where all process steps after the firing stage were fundamentally redesigned – with the measurable result that an increase in productivity of 10 percent was achieved in 2017.
Meanwhile, the shell of a new production hall was completed in Pfullendorf. Once in operation, it will increase the useful floor space by 4,500 m2 and facilitate a significant increase in capacity in terms of the manufacture of concealed cisterns. The commissioning of the hall is scheduled to take place in mid-2018.
Further harmonisation of processes
In spite of the diversity of production technologies, efforts to further standardise and optimise the various processes within production continued to progress well in the reporting year. “OneERP”, which aims to harmonise the IT systems and standardise resource planning in the plants of the former Sanitec, was implemented at the beginning of 2017 at the Polish production sites Koło, Włocławek and Ozorków. At the beginning of 2018, preparatory work began at the Scandinavian sites Bromölla, Ekenäs and Mörrum with the goal of replacing the systems at the beginning of 2019. The remaining changes are to follow step by step in the coming years.
With the creation of a department for OpEx (operational excellence), Geberit is now closer to its goal of standardising central processes and further improving efficiency within its entire network of plants. The new department’s first project will be to tackle the standardisation of maintenance processes.
Environmental management in production
The integration of the ceramics plants into the production network in 2015 had a considerable impact on Geberit’s ecological footprint. Because of the processes involved, the manufacture of ceramic sanitary appliances is very energy-intensive. In 2017, Geberit was able to reduce its environmental impact thanks to consistent energy management – in particular of the ceramics plants. The absolute environmental impact decreased by 3.7%, even though currency-adjusted net sales increased by 2.3% in the same period. The environmental impact in relation to currency-adjusted net sales (eco-efficiency) decreased by 5.8%. As regards the long-term target, which is based on a decrease of 5% per year, Geberit therefore remains on course.
Environmental impact 2008–2017
* UPB = Ecopoints in accordance with the Swiss Ecological Scarcity Method (upgraded version 2013)
Distribution environmental impact 2017
CO2 emissions were reduced in 2017 by 2.9% to 242,796 tonnes. In relation to currency-adjusted net sales, they decreased by 5.1%. This enabled the targets set out in the long-term CO2 strategy for reducing CO2 emissions to be met. In addition to relative targets, this strategy also includes long-term absolute targets. A three-pillar model is used for implementing the CO2 strategy. The first pillar is about savings in energy consumption. The second pillar relates to increasing efficiency and the third pillar comprises the selective purchasing of high-quality, renewable energy. The detailed CO2 balance sheet and all measures taken to reduce CO2 emissions are also disclosed in detail as part of the company’s participation in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).
CO2 emissions 2008–2017
Geberit aims to further reinforce its position as industry leader in the area of sustainability. Eco-efficiency and relative CO2 emissions are to be improved by 5% per year (see also Sustainability Strategy 2018-2020). One of the main instruments that helps achieve this goal is the integrated Geberit management system, which unites the themes of quality, environment, health and occupational safety as well as energy. By the end of 2018, all ceramics plants are to be integrated into this system. At the end of the reporting year, all 30 production plants were already certified to ISO 14001 and 27 to OHSAS 18001. Adding certification according to ISO 50001 (energy management) will be targeted for selected sites.