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Process optimisation in Bromölla

Johan Bergskans is Technical Manager at the ceramics plant in Bromölla (SE). Every day, he is faced with the challenge of keeping production running optimally and constantly improving the processes.

Bromölla is located in southern Sweden. When looking at the plant from the outside, there is nothing to suggest that ceramic sanitary appliances are produced here as part of a highly automated process. The first robot was used here for glazing the ceramics back in 1972. Currently, 54 robots are in operation at the plant in this small town of around 13,000. In order to remain competitive, production processes have constantly been reconsidered, modernised and reorganised, as was also the case in the quality control of the ceramic sanitary appliances after firing. Until only recently, this process involved long distances and heavy manual work.

The “flowing factory” is key

Qualified industrial engineer Johan Bergskans and his team developed a concept for this area over a one-year period. The process was automated and made significantly more efficient, with the fired ceramic parts now inspected and, if needed, repaired as part of continuous flow production. “Nowadays, the workstations have a much more ergonomic design. Lifting heavy ceramic appliances is now a thing of the past. Furthermore, the uniform speed of the conveyor system used for transporting the appliances to the workstations allows for more items to be inspected in the same time period. Despite the increase in numbers, the employee is put under less stress as everything runs in a more balanced pace than before,” explains Johan Bergskans.

Constant knowledge building

After completing his studies at Lund University (SE), Johan Bergskans worked for a year at a small consultancy company before joining the team in Bromölla in 2012. Here, he held various positions at the plant – he was Supervisor and also worked on production planning and the firing processes as Head of Department. In 2015, he became Production Manager and was responsible for all production areas downstream of the kilns. After the Technical Manager at the plant fell ill, Bergskans took on the job and has headed up the 31-strong team ever since. He is responsible for three main tasks: “Among others, I am responsible for machine maintenance, optimising the processes seen in process engineering, and checking new technology.”

«If you want to really understand the processes, you have to work together with the people in production. Progress is good, but usually requires an explanation. If the employees can understand the changes, they are also open to new things.»

Johan Bergskans, Technical Manager, Geberit Bromölla (SE)