GEA Factory of the Future taking shape in Poland

24 May 2021

On May 21, 2021, the cornerstone for GEA’s future climate-neutral production facility in Koszalin, Poland was laid. When launched in 2022, the expanded site will take its place as a best-in-class competence center for pump and component production and comprehensive machining, enabling efficient and flexible production in line with GEA’s commitment to increased sustainability across its own operations.

The historic city of Koszalin, located just south of the Baltic Sea coast in northwestern Poland, is home to GEA Tuchenhagen Polska sp. z. o. o. Established in 1991, the site’s workforce of roughly 80 employees currently produces high-quality pump components, valves and flanges for GEA production sites in Germany and Switzerland.

One of six GEA sites in Poland, Koszalin was selected in 2019 for further development based on its location and existing competencies. This step is a key milestone in GEA’s Global Manufacturing Footprint Strategy which aims to: increase customer proximity by internationalizing sites; take advantage of synergies and achieve scale by bundling competencies; reduce waste and increase efficiency.

“The Koszalin expansion is more than just a build; it is an opportunity to create a competitive, climate-neutral production center in Europe based on GEA’s needs and industry best-practice – a Factory of the Future,” explains Johannes Giloth, GEA’s Chief Operating Officer. “GEA’s commitment to improve the sustainability of its own operations is an important pillar in GEA’s Factory of the Future concept and further delivers on our purpose of ‘engineering for a better world’.”

GEA Koszalin: roadmap for success

The concentration of production technologies and processes at individual sites ensures the high utilization of machines and equipment. This strategy, combined with a roughly EUR 37 million investment, will elevate the Koszalin site to a center of competence for hygienic and vacuum pump production and components. From here, finished pumps can be shipped to end customers globally, for use in the pharmaceutical, chemical, home and personal care, beverage, dairy and food processing industries.

Koszalin will also provide welding, milling, drilling and assembly of components for other GEA sites, including decanter components and machined components for separators and hygienic valves. Intermediary and pre-processes, such as surface treatment, cutting and forming will also be performed on site, improving flow across supply chains and reducing lead times for customers.

The expansion will include a new two-story administration building, a large production hall, warehouse and logistic areas, located opposite the existing GEA Koszalin building. An infusion of approximately 190 employees is anticipated to take up the more than 230 thousand additional production hours planned.

GEA Koszalin: roadmap for success

Managed and steered by a cross functional GEA team with support from external industry experts, the Koszalin Factory of the Future project is based on five core principles:

  • flexibility
  • efficiency
  • competitiveness
  • digitization
  • expandability
  • sustainability

In the new facility, flexibility begins from the ground up: with slab- and grid sizes to accommodate diverse machine sizes and pillar spacing to allow for flexible movement of transport equipment and large equipment. To achieve maximum efficiency for each process, production lines and manufacturing cells will be integrated where possible to shorten lead times. Further efficiencies will be gained by bundling tasks according to material: stainless steel applications will be delegated to the new facility and advanced high-strength steel ones to the existing one. The highly optimized and flexible layout of the new facility and clear division of tasks between teams should increase the site’s combined productivity by 20 percent.

The detailed logistics concept is based on fast moving storage with a high turnover rate. The ability to align Kanban stock levels with customer requirements, for example, will minimize inventories in the central warehouse. For efficient truck access, three loading areas are planned. Materials will primarily be stored in production at the point of use. Locating the loading zone and warehouse nearest the existing site facilitates synergies between the two buildings. The site also benefits from updated road links which make it easy to access.

By expanding our Koszalin site, we further strengthen GEA’s global manufacturing network by increasing productivity, reducing our cost base and shortening lead times for customers. We anticipate a payback period of less than five and half years, which is quite impressive, by any industry standard.”– Holger Gluess, Head of Global Production, GEA

– Holger Gluess, Head of Global Production, GEA

Integrating state-of-the-art machining and automated options for tasks like welding will ensure efficient and cost-competitive production. High-speed connectivity will be offered across the entire facility to support fully digitalized processes, from order intake to delivery. By 2025, all GEA sites will have migrated to a single global ERP system – further driving transparency and efficiency.

To achieve climate-neutrality, the new facility will produce its own energy – pending final local approval – by integrating photovoltaic panels on the roof, storing power in batteries which can also be used to power fleet vehicles. Likewise, a combined heat and power (CHP) system based on bio natural gas (bio methane) will be used to generate electricity and heat which can be used to heat and cool the site. Both systems can be scaled up as demand for energy at Koszalin increases.

LED lighting and above industry standard levels for building and ceiling insulation will be utilized throughout the facility. The windows will feature low-emissivity glass which improves natural lighting conditions and reduces heating and cooling costs. Outside, parking will include stations for charging electric vehicles while green spaces will be protected from erosion with shrubs and trees, also compensating for any trees removed during construction. To ensure the new site reaches its zero-carbon goal, GEA Koszalin will offset any additional CO2 emissions with high quality certificates, investing in wind, solar, biomass and waste gas recovery projects around the world.

Resilient and future-ready

A key requirement in the current Koszalin project is scope for future expansion, therefore, the layout allows for more production, logistics and office space. It is also possible for the production and logistics areas to expand independently for maximum flexibility. Infrastructure and approvals are already in place for any additional service and utility requirements to minimize the expense and complexity of future building work.

“With GEA’s Factory of the Future concept, and our new facility in Koszalin, we have a model that sets new standards for further optimizing our global manufacturing footprint and performance,” states Giloth. “This is an important step in building resilience into our business: ensuring the delivery of high-quality products to our customers, when they need them, at a price they are willing to pay. Improving the energy efficiency of our sites is key to maintaining our future-ready position, therefore we are forging ahead with steps to reduce our own CO2 footprint.”

On target: GEA’s global production strategy

On target: GEA’s global production strategy

By establishing multi-purpose sites, like Koszalin, which produce equipment or components for two or more divisions, GEA increases utilization, flexibility and quality across its production network.

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