Since 2007 nobilia has successfully undergone environmental certification in accordance with DIN EN ISO 14001, which particularly addresses the issues of environmental protection and conservation of resources. In these fields, too, nobilia voluntarily subjects itself to inspections and audits by independent inspectors in order to constantly monitor and enhance the nobilia environmental management system.
DIN EN ISO 14001 is the globally recognised standard for the certification of environmental management systems.
Areas assessed include the operational environmental policy, verifiable environmental goals and an operational environmental programme based on these goals. Compliance with legal regulations is also systematically monitored.
The standards of the ISO environmental norms call for an environmental management system that governs plans, designs, inspections and improvements as part of a continuing improvement process.
In March 2011, environmental management certification in accordance with DIN EN ISO 14001 was once again confirmed by the LGA.
nobilia produces around 500,000 kitchens every year – or put another way: approximately five million cabinets. Even by international standards, this makes us one of the larger companies to work with wood-based materials.
Wood-based materials are much needed resources in the production of high-quality kitchen furniture. We are assuming that valuable wood resources will become increasingly scarcer in the future. Therefore, a sustainable policy in relation to wood and wood-based materials is of particular importance to us. In this regard, PEFC certification in 2009 was the next systematic step for nobilia.
With PEFC certification, nobilia is demonstrating its commitment to the environment and responsibility in its approach to valuable wood resources. The processed wood-based materials that we use come from sustainably managed forests and controlled sources.
In more specific terms, nobilia annually purchases more than 500,000 cubic metres of traceable and certified wood material. As a percentage, this corresponds to a certification rate of around 90 per cent – a very high proportion that nobilia has only been able to achieve by agreeing the relevant contracts with wood suppliers at a very early stage. As such, nobilia is far above the minimum value of 70 per cent required for PEFC certification!
Forest certification provides a guarantee that the wood-based materials used by nobilia for production do not come from dubious resources or over-exploited areas, but solely from forests that are managed in harmony with nature.
As the first (and for a long time the only) kitchen furniture manufacturer in the market with PEFC certification, we have once again demonstrated our pioneering role in the industry in relation to quality and the environment, and set new standards.
Due to the high volume of material that nobilia processes in production, ensuring the efficient use of this material is of the utmost importance when it comes to protecting ecological and economical resources. In this regard, nobilia launched an ambitious programme at the beginning of 2010. Reducing the reject rate of materials in the area of front-end production by 25 per cent is just one of these defined goals.
As part of this programme, 40 employees were given training to become quality specialists. These specialists strengthen the individual production teams, thus transferring the notion of quality from our own colleagues to the teams.
Special training sessions raise awareness of all the teams and they are continually concerned with measures designed to optimise quality. Looking at tolerance samples demonstrated perfectly what constitutes quality and nonquality.
Around 40 per cent of the energy consumed in Germany is used in buildings. At nobilia, too, the proportion of energy needed to heat the two large production halls in particular, accounts for the lion’s share of the total energy used. In order to reduce this energy consumption we have invested considerably in new facilities at both nobilia factories.
In 2009 and 2010, biomass heating plants were installed at both production sites with an overall thermal output of ten megawatts per plant. For many years nobilia has been using wood scraps from the production process to fire the heating. The new plant will be solely powered by wood.
This will save around 13,000 Tonnes of CO₂ and 1.5 million liTres of heating oil every year!
When constructing new buildings or modernising existing ones, like in the case of the superstructure in the dispatch/assembly hall in factory I, nobilia also places a great deal of emphasis on the thermal insulation of the buildings. In this regard, the standards set out in the current German Energy Conservation Act 2009 are adhered to as a minimum requirement.
The lighting in a company accounts for around six per cent of the total energy consumed in Germany. Modern, efficient lighting technology offers diverse and quickly realisable possibilities for reducing the consumption of the necessary energy.
However, the biggest responsibility for ensuring that energy is used in an efficient and responsible manner rests with the employees. They are continually made aware of the subject via team meetings, bulletins or the company magazine.
nobilia has used state-of-the-art lighting solutions for its latest construction and renovation projects: domed roof lights and rows of windows ensure that a high degree of natural daylight can enter the production plants. The lighting systems in the halls are controlled by sensors and adjust themselves to varying light conditions. During breaks they automatically switch themselves off.
In other building areas, employees are urged to switch off lights and other sources of energy consumption during their breaks. Corresponding information and company provisions set out clear guidelines in this regard. Regular tours of the plants monitor compliance with these provisions.
nobilia is the largest kitchen manufacturer in Europe. Any company that builds more than 2,200 kitchens every day is an industrial consumer of a great deal of electricity. Annually, nobilia consumes approximately 40 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, which means that responsible use of this crucial resource is of the utmost importance. Here, nobilia has introduced extensive measures which are already in place.
However, the biggest responsibility for ensuring that energy is used in an efficient and responsible manner rests with the employees. They are continually made aware of the subject via team meetings, bulletins or the company magazine.
HIGHLY EFFICIENT GENERATION OF COMPRESSED AIR
In the area of production, nobilia has an extensive network of compressed air for operating the pneumatic cylinders, powering units, supplying media such as glue or screws, and much more besides. Compressed air is the most expensive of all the energy types, which is why nobilia has taken a range of measures to ensure that the large demand for compressed air is used as efficiently as possible:
The compressor plant in both factories works on the basis of an identical system and is switched on and off according to demand. Online monitoring provides evaluations and is able to detect even the smallest leaks, which can then be immediately repaired. In addition, as part of regular maintenance work, nobilia teams constantly carry out checks to detect and remedy possible leaks.
The latest compressor technology makes it possible to keep the pressure as low as possible at a value of seven bar. The heat created by compressed air generation is recovered and put to good use.
USE OF HIGHLY EFFICIENT PLANT TECHNOLOGY
Electrical drives account for around two thirds of all industrial electricity consumption. To reduce energy consumption, nobilia opts for the highest energy efficiency class eff1 when replacing or purchasing any investments.
The eff1 class represents highly efficient drive technology, which adjusts the ventilator speed to the actual requirements of the machine and thus differentiates, for instance, between production time and downtime. This ensures a better degree of efficiency on all machines, which increases output and reduces electricity consumption at the same time.
INTELLIGENTLY CONTROLLED EXTRACTION UNITS
Woodworking creates shavings and offcuts. In order to keep the plants and production areas permanently clean, this waste is carried away by extraction units and collected in shaving silos. This technology generally requires a great deal of energy.
In order to keep energy consumption as low as possible, we use energy-efficient ventilators that are directly driven and frequency-controlled, which means they achieve a high degree of efficiency instead of working constantly on full power. The intelligent control system of the extraction units switches itself off during breaks in production and constantly adjusts the speed to actual requirements.
Incidentally, the shavings are used to fire the heating plants. Surplus material is sold on to the chipboard industry and thus fed back into the material cycle.
Raw materials are finite. Waste contains valuable materials that should be recycled in order to conserve resources. Modern waste management logistics make a significant contribution in this respect, ensuring that waste is recycled to the greatest extent possible as part of an optimised recycling management system.
At the beginning of 2011, nobilia introduced a Completely new system to reduce the amount of residual waste.
The aim was to largely sort the collected waste in order to recycle as much of it as possible. In cooperation with the renowned waste management specialist Remondis, nobilia has now introduced a system for separating residual waste, which has been specially optimised to meet the company’s operational needs. Although waste was previously sorted, it was only separated into plastic film, cardboard or metal. Now it is sorted and collected in ten different material categories and systematically processed or recycled.
Thanks to the new waste management concept, the amount of residual waste has already been reduced by more than 25 per cent.
For many years nobilia has used its own fleet of vehicles for deliveries in Germany and surrounding European countries in order to ensure the highest standards of delivery of its products. In doing so, it goes without saying that we establish the very best conditions for environmentally responsible activities.
Our 135 trucks and 490 trailers transport an annual freight volume of around 1.5 million cubic metres and cover a distance of more than 14 million kilometres. In order to keep CO₂ emissions as low as possible, we have converted the entire vehicle fleet to comply with the Euro 5 exhaust emission standard. That represents the very latest in vehicle technology and includes AdBlue technology, which can capture even the finest soot particles in the KAT filter.
Further measures include computer-supported calculation of the average fuel consumption for each driver, ECO driver training and special, individual, on-the-job training by driving instructors.
Regular monitoring of tyre pressures ensures that fuel consumption is kept as low as possible.
Almost 600,000 letters and around 130,000 packages are sent around the world by nobilia every year. Post that can only be physically sent. Transporting this mail generates CO₂ emissions that amount to around 200 tonnes annually. Approximately 20 hectares of forest or 20,000 trees would be needed to absorb this carbon dioxide pollution.
As an official partner of the environmentally friendly GOGREEN services provided by Deutsche Post and DHl, nobilia is able to offset this amount. Any CO₂ emissions generated by transportation are calculated and offset through climate protection projects in accordance with the principles of the Kyoto protocol.
This offsetting is certified by an independent certification company (Societé Général de Surveillance, SGS) in accordance with ISO 14064.
In 2011 the entire nobilia letter and package dispatch operation was switched to the carbon-neutral GOGREEN services provided by Deutsche Post and DHL.
Despite taking advantage of all the possibilities offered by digital media, a company simply cannot get by without using paper. Using it responsibly is crucial, which also means facing up to the biggest problem associated with paper production: over-exploitation of ancient woodland in the export countries. Year after year, natural woodland areas that play an important role in maintaining an ecological balance are increasingly disappearing!
That is why all the paper that nobilia uses for sales documents is now pefc-certified paper from sustainably managed forests.
Thus we are sending a clear signal: every year, nobilia provides 42,000 sales handbooks in eight languages for its trade partners and 1.2 million kitchen magazines that are published in seven languages. That is equivalent to 1,620 tonnes of paper or 152 million printed pages.
Using PEFC-certified paper is the logical and systematic continuation of our own PEFC certification and a manifestation of our responsible use of wood resources.
An environmentally responsible product policy also requires outstanding product quality. Wellmade products mean fewer rejects at the production stage and less wear and tear for the end consumer. A long product lifespan reduces depletion of resources caused by premature replacement purchases. That is why nobilia has been carrying out stringent quality tests on its own initiative for more than 15 years, in addition to the tests performed by independent testing institutions as part of ISO 9001 certification and the norm tests for the DGM quality mark ‘The Golden M’.
In September 2009 a second laboratory was opened at the nobilia company fair and – in a first for the kitchen furniture industry – it is a glass laboratory that is open to the public, offering an insight into the extensive nobilia testing process over an area that covers 230 square metres.
At nobilia a preventive approach is taken to the quality strategy: every product is thoroughly tested before mass production begins. All the materials used are tested to ensure that they have a minimum lifespan of at least 15 years. Only products that successfully pass all the tests are included in the nobilia collection.
Private households consume around half of all the energy used in Germany. Household and built-in appliances account for approximately half of that: cooling, freezing, cooking, baking, dishwashing and cleaning laundry – none of these is possible without electricity. Furthermore, about a sixth of a household’s daily water consumption is used for washing clothes and dishes. In terms of environmental protection and resource conservation, the use of new, energy-efficient appliances is therefore of great importance.
As a leading marketer of complete kitchens, nobilia also supplies a wide range of built-in appliances: seven electrical appliance brands – including three exclusive brands – cover the entire price range, from entry-level to the top segment. Appliances in energy-efficiency class A are considered standard for all brands; for refrigerators the standard is even A+. Whichever price range the end consumer chooses, they can be sure that the electrical appliances used by nobilia contribute to optimising energy consumption in the home.
Incidentally, complete marketing also means complete delivery. And that means reducing CO₂ emissions by making one single delivery for furniture and appliances instead of several deliveries by different suppliers and different vehicles.
Lighting accounts for around 19 per cent of global electricity consumption. It thus becomes clear how important it is to use energy-efficient lights.
Modern LED technology offers the best results.
The extremely long lifespan of 100,000 hours is impressive when compared to traditional light bulbs (750 to 1,000 hours) or energy-saving bulbs (8,000 to 15,000 hours). Even when comparing the cost of electricity consumption, the LED light is considerably cheaper at around € 1.12 per year, against a light bulb at € 7.50 or an energy-saving bulb at € 1.50.*
A further advantage is the fact that the light generates hardly any heat, is free of IR and UV radiation, contains no mercury at the end of its life and is easy to dispose of.
nobilia is a pioneer when it comes to the ‘complete marketing’ of kitchens, offering its trade partners kitchens, electrical appliances and accessories from one source. In this regard, modern lighting systems are an important element of the nobilia range. Since 2006 nobilia has been increasingly using LED lights in its collection. Today more than 60 per cent of the lighting collection is already based on LED technology.
*light output equivalent to a 40 watt light bulb
Ethical and social responsibility is demonstrated by how seriously and systematically a company approaches these subjects in all areas of its business. If we are talking about the subject of drinking coffee, then it is with good reason.
Coffee is made and drunk by employees in the canteens and departmental kitchens, it is laid on for meetings, and it goes without saying that visitors are made to feel welcome with a good cup of coffee. That soon adds up to more than one tonne of coffee consumed every year.
Since the beginning of 2008, under the motto ‘enjoy and help’, only fair trade coffee has filled the cups at nobilia.
The coffee with the TransFair seal is purchased by the coffee manufacturer directly from the smallholders in South America, thus cutting out the middleman. The quality is first-class and it is produced organically. The producers receive an agreed minimum price, which is always above the world market price. This covers the production costs and ensures that the farmers receive at least the absolute minimum needed to secure their livelihood. For the smallholders it is the start they need to help them improve their living and working conditions on their own.
Incidentally, TransFair is not a brand, but an association that awards products with its seal. The monitoring of fair trade rules is just one of its responsibilities.
The expertise and ideas of employees are among the greatest resources of knowledge in a company. nobilia employees are highly qualified and experienced specialists in the production of kitchen furniture and its associated work processes. All the more reason why it is important to find ways for the company to access this huge wealth of knowledge of around 2,200 employees.
In September 2010 the nobilia kitchen of ideas project was launched. Much more than a mere company suggestion scheme! A manager specially trained for the task is responsible for the project. In order to process all the submitted ideas quickly, effectively and with a minimum of red tape, a specialist software solution for the intranet has been purchased. A new, attractive reward system also offers a financial incentive to participate.
Up to August 2011 nobilia counted almost 1,800 submitted ideas. Every fifth idea was related to the idea of sustainability.
nobilia is a company that processes wood. for us, fire safety is important for our very existence: to protect our employees, to protect the environment and to protect the company itself.
nobilia has implemented wide-ranging measures related to technical fire safety. for instance, an extensive sprinkler system has been installed in all production areas. Smoke alarms and CO₂ extinguisher systems have been installed in special areas. All plants are monitored by a fire alarm system. The entire production area has been divided into individual fire sections. In many areas, the measures implemented far exceed the legal requirements, such as the underground water tanks we have for extinguishing purposes.
fire safety regulations, evacuation regulations and agreements and drills with the fire service provide the organisational basis for efficient fir e safety . Employee s receive regular fire safety instruction and evacuation stewards are trained.
Constantly improving safety at our sites is of the utmost importance to us. We are continually improving the safety of our plants and workplaces. We prevent potential risks and work to ensure that we effectively avert any danger.
In 2009 nobilia launched a new in-house campaign with the aim of preventing accidents at work and damage to health, and encouraging our employees to actively take part.
In training sessions, in the company magazine and through regular bulletins on the information board, the professionals responsible for safety explain the important matters:
The process is supported by 35 safety officers in the production areas and 175 first-aiders. These have been trained in-house and receive regular ongoing training.
PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT: NOISE PROTECTION
The employees in production are subjected to a high degree of noise exposure, which is why a great deal of value is placed on noise protection at nobilia.
When purchasing new tools or machines, or planning new processes, the necessary requirements are incorporated into the functional specifications.
Noise protection areas are designated accordingly in the plant. In production areas, continuous measurements are carried out to monitor noise.
Employees receive ear protection suited to their workplace conditions and undergo regular preventive check-ups.
Our employees are our most valuable asset. That is why nobilia is committed to giving them access to especially good preventive health care.
Alongside occupational health care provided by the company doctor, nobilia offers many extra provisions. For example, hot and cold drinks are provided free of charge and fruit is available in winter.
A free back training course is new. It is specifically tailored to the needs of shift workers and is staffed by qualified physiotherapists. Our own workspace has been set up for this course. Physiotherapy care takes the form of advice at the employee’s workspace, informing them how work processes can be performed ergonomically and in a way that places minimal stress on the body.
There are also prophylactic measures such as flu injections in winter.
At nobilia, training is a particularly important subject. We train specialists for our own company, and we train with the intention of taking on our trainees – ultimately our qualified employees are our most important resource.
There are currently 85 young trainees at nobilia.
We provide training for a variety of careers: in the commercial area we train industrial sales representatives and specialist IT staff for system integration; in the industrial area we train woodworkers, joiners, mechatronics technicians and professional drivers. In addition, nobilia offers dual Bachelors courses in conjunction with the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University in Mosbach. For the BA Wood Engineering course, we work in conjunction with the College of Cooperative Education in Melle.
A separate workshop was set up in 1979 for industrial trainees and has continually expanded over the years. Today it occupies an area covering 700 square metres and has first-class facilities. Only recently it received a highly modern processing centre that makes all facets of manual and industrial woodworking possible using the very latest technology.
In addition to school-based training, a vocational college teacher provides nobilia company training once a week as part of the commercial training. He enlarges upon the school-based learning content and prepares the trainees for tests with a special course on exams. We are delighted that nobilia trainees are honoured time and again by the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry as part of its policy of recognising the best.
In addition, nobilia offers free foreign language lessons; stays abroad over several months with an intensive course in the relevant language or an internship at a partner company.
For all trainees – industrial, commercial and students – the training begins with a collective three-day course on the subject of kitchen as a product. Other options are available for all trainees throughout their training, such as team-building trips or etiquette seminars.
We at nobilia refer to ourselves as ‘nobilianers’ and are thoroughly proud to be part of this community. What the company has been practicing for many years in terms of social commitment has now become a standard notion. As a family-run company, social sustainability has long been a principle we live by at nobilia.
GENEROUS SPECIAL BENEFITS FOR EMPLOYEES
In keeping with good nobilia tradition, all 2,200 employees receive a well filled Christmas package. It contains food, fair trade coffee and smaller gifts such as calendars or cooking aprons.
nobilia gives its employees Christmas and holiday pay. If the company achieves its sales targets, nobilia pays a bonus to the entire workforce of its own free will. Ultimately, every nobilianer has contributed to the success of the company through their hard work!
nobilia holds a Christmas party for all its employees. In a festive atmosphere, everybody shares a meal and is able to look back on the year and wind down together.
A FESTIVAL FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY
At regular intervals a family festival is held on one of the two sites. This takes place at the weekend so that every employee is able to visit the festival and the company together with their family. nobilia specifically promotes a close relationship between the families and the company. After all, on a daily basis it is their understanding that is required when Saturday shifts have to be covered or overtime has to be done. There are also other regular events, such as the nobilia football tournament.
STILL A NOBILIANER WHEN THE TIME COMES TO STOP WORKING
Once a year, around 130 pensioners meet up for the ‘nobilia pensioner trip’. An annual party is also held in Gütersloh town hall for all those celebrating an anniversary. All those celebrating an anniversary – current as well as former nobilianers – are invited to celebrate their anniversaries together. On the company’s 25 th and 40 th anniversaries, these individuals also receive an additional bonus. Upon entering retirement, the employees are given a special leaving present.
In association with an insurance company, nobilia offers its employees the additional option of taking out a private pension. Thanks to a special group contract, employees are able to take advantage of attractive company conditions. As part of this offer, regular individual advice clinics run by external experts are held at nobilia. The advice is free of charge and there is no obligation.
DEATH BENEFIT FUND: THE NOBILIA COMMUNITY HELPS
nobilia has had a death benefit fund since 1995. Upon the death of an employee this can ease the difficult situation of those family members left behind – at least in financial terms. There are currently around 1,800 members of this fund, more than 80 per cent of all employees. If a colleague dies, every member pays five euros. nobilia then matches the amount paid in.
As things currently stand, the payout would be € 18,000. A small contribution from every individual, but a real help for the surviving dependants.