Traditional craftsmanship in manufacturing and digital technology
Carefully designed and handmade products have been one of the most conspicuous consumer trends in recent years. In all modesty, we already knew that here at Iserlohn, because our products would never have been possible without manual work and expertise.
High-quality designer fittings, made in Germany – this combination has been making our products and solutions distinctive for decades. We are a family company with a long tradition that still consistently relies on manual work in many areas of production. Even in an age when mechanisation and technology, especially digitalisation, are on the increase, many of the production steps at our Iserlohn factory are still carried out by hand. At the same time, we were the first in the industry to have pushed ahead decisively with the idea of digitalisation in bathroom spa and kitchen – we work in the area of conflict between traditional craftsmanship in manufacturing and advanced and innovative technology.
Quality-conscious out of a sense of responsibility: our employees
As far as we are concerned, high-tech and manual work are not irreconcilable opposites, instead they complement each other and go perfectly hand in hand. In Iserlohn, all the production steps take place under one roof: from developing new product solutions and programming relevant software, to electroplating, to assembly. And even if the work in the factory is increasingly supported by machines and industrial robots, the number of employees in production has remained constant for many years. With good reason. Because every single product passes through the hands of experienced skilled workers, who feel almost personally responsible for “their” fitting – one of the most reliable forms of quality assurance, as we have discovered over the years. And for us it is largely if not totally about quality.
Made in Germany. Made in Sauerland.
“There can be no compromise in the premium segment, where we do our business”, says Andreas Dornbracht, who is in charge of strategy, finances, communication and marketing. This also applies to the label “Made in Germany”, which is for us both a statement of origin and a promise of quality. Because not only do we manufacture in Germany, we also work almost exclusively with suppliers local to Iserlohn – many of which are also family companies with a long history. Stable business relationships with tried and trusted partners from our region, the Sauerland , more than 60 years’ experience in the industry and the know-how of employees who have been with us for a long time – this is the basis for our consistently high level of quality and at the same time, one of the cornerstones of our corporate philosophy.
Manual work in all areas of production
Quality without compromise, this leitmotif can also be found our “5 Ps”: proportion, precision, progressiveness, personality and performance. These are the criteria that must be met by every series of fittings and every product. To achieve this aim, not only do we use highly-specialised machines, we also and most importantly benefit from having long-standing employees – who have a great deal of experience and a highly practised eye, of course. Every single product is meticulously inspected and examined during its production, with precision and professionalism. This means that a great deal of manual work is brought to bear in almost every stage of manufacturing: in finishing, grinding and polishing just as much as after the plating process, in assembly – and in detailed checks after every step.
We always put quality before quantity
How is that possible? It’s quite simple really: to this day here at Dornbracht we make relatively small quantities – even single pieces when asked, in response to individual customer requests. “Neither a single radius nor a single edge will be changed in our fittings for the sake of producing more items per unit time”, explains Matthias Dornbracht, who is responsible in the company for developing systems and technologies. Reaffirming the uncompromising standard we apply to workmanship, functionality and design. We put quality before quantity – so you will look in vain for assembly lines and piecework in our production halls.
Digitalisation “Made in Iserlohn”
For all our closeness to traditional craftsmanship – which we will proudly continue to practice, of course – we have long since moved into the digital age as well. We presented our first digital product solutions for bathroom and kitchen in 2010, with the Ambiance Tuning Technology (ATT). The digital portfolio was enhanced as early as 2013, with the launch of Smart Water around the shower experienceSensory Sky , the electronically controlled Foot Bath and the intelligent kitchen fitting eUnit Kitchen. In the second six months of 2019, we will launch the multi-sensory AquamoonATTshower onto the market – a response to the pursuit of holistic well-being. Just tap the touch-screen to experience unique choreographies of water, flow modes, mood lighting and fragrance. The control elements – so-called Smart Tools – and the accompanying hardware and software are also developed in the factory at Iserlohn.
Complementing not contradicting
Andreas Dornbracht finds nothing contradictory about the quality of manufacturing by hand and technological progress. “We are already surrounded by digitality every single day. It is not a question of whether high-tech and manual work can be compatible – they have to be. As leading innovators in premium fittings, we have spent years dealing with the question of how to reconcile traditional craftsmanship with technology – and in particular additional digital value.” Which is also the key issue: additional value. Smart Water technology is not competing with fittings that are hand made, it represents their logical development and completion. The equation is a simple one: Manufacturing by hand/craftsmanship + digital technology = fit for the future.
Other important trends: individualisation and sustainability
We also take a social trend into account: the growing demand for individualisation. We can use digital solutions, for example, to select personalised shower scenarios at the touch of a button. Production involving manufacturing by hand also accommodates the pursuit of individuality. Where cheap mass-produced goods create uniformity, handmade products satisfy personal wants and needs. They convey lasting values which have become important once again in our fast-moving and superficial times: longevity, quality and trustworthiness. The origin and workmanship of products are valued once again and more and more people are prepared to invest in high-quality products. All the more if they are also sustainable – the question of how, where and under which circumstances a product is made is becoming increasingly important in deciding whether or not to buy.