Annual Report 2016

13. Product responsibility (PR)

13.1 Customer Health and Safety (PR)

Management Approach – Customer Health and Safety

For Geberit, high quality standards mean fulfilling customers’ requirements in terms of functionality, reliability and application safety to the greatest possible extent. The company is guided by the zero-error principle. Corporate Quality Management is res­ponsible for ensuring that suitable framework conditions promote a quality culture throughout the company, and that all employees act in a quality-conscious and independent manner.

Products undergo a defined optimisation process from the first draft. Product Development is res­ponsible for ensuring that the products developed are safe and user-friendly, and that they comply with all standards and statutory requirements. As an independent department, Quality Management is res­ponsible for defining, arranging and monitoring all necessary inspections to ensure that these requirements are met. A clear organisational distinction is drawn between development and quality management. In addition, many products are also examined by external authorisation bodies.

Following market launch, an efficient handling of complaints with integrated error analysis, the initiation of sustained corrective measures and the continuous development of concepts for customer support takes place in cooperation with Sales, Production and Development. Geberit has achieved a high standard in the processing of complaints, and reacts directly and in a solution-oriented manner in each individual case.

When it comes to training its employees on Geberit products, competition, standards, industry or core topics, Geberit relies on a bundle of measures. The integration of former Sanitec employees continues to play an important role here. Employees from different markets were invited to Jona (CH) to become more acquainted with the values and products of the Geberit Group. The focus was also placed on the topics of knowledge and values that are incorporated into the international markets in a targeted manner. A training concept was developed for this that aims to support employees in their daily challenges in the global environment. Paperless learning approaches reduce the printouts of training manuals by 95% and thereby facilitate a longer useful life and better availability of the manuals. The overall concept is being revised for 2017 and enhanced through adaptation to the needs of the market. “Blended learning”, i.e. a combination of eLearning and on-site training, makes learning more holistic and effective.

Product Development and Quality Management are res­ponsible for customer health and safety.

G4-PR1 Health and safety impact along the product life cycle

Generally speaking, Geberit products and services involve low risks for customers in terms of health and safety. Geberit nevertheless adopts a preventive approach within the scope of its comprehensive quality planning in order to test and ensure the health and safety requirements of all products from development to certification, through manufacture and storage, to use and disposal. Among other things, Quality and Safety Management include an FMEA (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis) as a precautionary measure to prevent errors and increase the technical reliability of products. Eco-design workshops are held in the course of product development in order to optimise the use of suitable and ecological materials. If products or their use involve an increased risk to health or safety, Geberit’s technical editorial staff ensures that this is communicated appropriately to customers, see G4-PR3.

G4-PR2 Non-compliance with health and safety regulations

Throughout the Group, there were no court judgements or warnings against Geberit in the reporting period involving contraventions of regulations on the health and safety of products and services or product and service information.

13.2 Product and Service Labeling (PR)

Management Approach – Product and Service Labeling

With the integration of the ceramic business in its tried-and-tested sales structures, Geberit substantially strengthened its presence in many markets. Since the beginning of 2016, each market has been serviced by one local sales company only. The more than 800 advisors deployed throughout Europe no longer focus on specific product areas, but rather on different customer segments, such as the wholesale trade, plumbers and planners, architects and end users. This means that sales representatives must have very broad product knowledge in order to provide comprehensive support to their customers.

Architects, planners and engineering offices are increasingly using BIM (Building Information Modeling) to optimise and integrate their processes. Geberit has started capturing the BIM data for all relevant products and now makes the data available for download to customers across the world.

For decades, Geberit’s broad range of training opportunities has been a proven instrument for retaining customers. During the reporting year, more than 30,000 customers were provided with education and further training on Geberit products, tools and software tools at the 25 Geberit information centres in Europe and overseas. This range of opportunities was supplemented with training and information events at Geberit’s bathroom showrooms. These showrooms – many of which are situated at good pedestrian locations – are currently being redesigned as part of a Group-wide initiative. A total of around 90,000 customers became more familiar with Geberit know-how and products at external events, some of which were organised in cooperation with market partners.

Corporate Marketing is res­ponsible for the labelling of products and services. Conveying product and application information in accordance with laws, standards and target groups is one of the main tasks of the Product Communication department (Technical Documentation) that forms part of Corporate Marketing at Geberit. A comprehensive portfolio of various document types and publication channels is available for this purpose. In the area of assembly and installation, Geberit focuses on multicultural and generally understandable images comprising detailed illustrations and guiding symbols. On top of this, more far-reaching information is provided for the plumber, architect and engineer target groups via various handbooks and skills brochures. In addition, product and safety data sheets are available for all products and target groups.

The end user target group is becoming more and more important in the conveying of product information, as Geberit is addressing end users with more and more products. Geberit ensures safe handling and correct labelling by means of detailed operating documentation based on the prevailing standards and laws.

G4-PR3 Product labeling

Products involving the use of electricity, gas or dangerous substances – or those containing such substances – need to be appropriately labelled in accordance with the prevailing standards and laws. This includes providing information about the target group and its qualifications as well as the intended use and the existence of substances subject to labelling requirements. The distributor/supplier must publish this information in a national language of the target market in accordance with the prevailing laws and regulations. Whenever possible, plastic components must feature material labelling in order to facilitate recycling.

Eleven Geberit product groups – a total of almost 700 sales products – carry the WELL label (Water Efficiency Label) of the European umbrella organisation for valve manufacturers EUnited which was introduced in 2011, and in doing so represent over 18% of Group sales.

The implementation of FSC certification (wood label) for bathroom furniture was prepared by Geberit in 2016. Additionally, there was also certification of the first products in the Ifö Sense bathroom furniture series with the “Nordic Swan” ecolabel. Collaboration continued with FECS (European Federation of Ceramic Sanitary Ware Manufacturers) to draw up a new European standard for assessing the sustainability of ceramic sanitary appliances (EN 16578).

G4-PR4 Non-compliance with labeling requirements

In the reporting period, there were no known cases of violation of applicable laws or voluntary codes.

G4-PR5 Customer satisfaction

Most of Geberit’s marketing activities continued to target sanitary professionals and companies. Proven measures such as customer visits, training and the publication of regularly updated technical documents, brochures and magazines, online platforms and apps were continued and developed further. The successful Geberit On Tour campaign was repeated for the sixth time in the reporting year. Specially fitted-out mobile showrooms visited local and regional wholesalers and offered plumbers the opportunity to assess Geberit innovations and solutions directly on site. In 2016, more than 25,000 visitors were addressed at more than 900 events in 16 countries.

Over 10,000 customers in Switzerland were asked about their satisfaction with Geberit products and services in a written survey in 2016. Almost 900 plumbers, sanitary planners and architects responded. Innovation and expertise most strongly characterise the image of Geberit (90% and 92% agreement respectively). Geberit is also clearly perceived to be res­ponsible and sustainable (72%) and a fair partner (71%). The excellent assessments and competitiveness of the individual products are pleasing – particularly with regard to quality – as is the high satisfaction with the technical advice given.

For further information, see Business Report > Business and financial review > Financial Year 2016 > Customers.

13.3 Compliance Product Responsibility (PR)

Management Approach – Compliance – Product Responsibility

See Management approach customer health and safety and chapter Society.

G4-PR9 Sanctions due to non-compliance with product liability regulations

No sanctions have been imposed in connection with Geberit products and services due to non-compliance with product liability regulations.