Products and Services - Sustainability Report 2018/2019

Intro Products and Services

We take responsibility for our products throughout their lifespan and strive to create innovative, sustainable and future-proof solutions. We know and manage downstream value-added processes, support our customers with their use of the products and ensure their optimum environmentally-friendly disposal or recycling. To keep improving that recycling, we are working to reduce the number of composite materials and parts in our products and minimize the amount of controversial substances.

Appliances in use generate the most leverage
Energy and water consumption is far lower when producing our appliances than when using them. For this reason, we want to develop and manufacture the most resource-efficient appliances, without compromising on the end result or ease of use. As well as energy efficiency and minimum water consumption, this includes reducing noise emissions and protecting our customers’ everyday objects. We encourage our customers to be sparing with resources, by informing them transparently about consumption and making tools available to them so that they can influence their own consumption (see “Intelligent machines” and “It knows better”). 

Premium Swiss quality
However, V-ZUG household appliances are designed not only to be sustainable in use, but also to provide many years of enjoyment. High-quality products are the cornerstone of this approach. As a traditional Swiss company, quality, precision and reliability are part of our DNA and we support our customers with a fast, professional and flexible service. We also have our management systems certified for quality, environment and occupational safety (ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001) and continually optimize our quality assurance processes (see “Listening to the dishwasher’s heartbeat”).

Durable and up-to-date
Our durable household appliances are designed to generate added value in a modern household years after they are sold. The replacement part warranty of up to 15 years is the foundation of this. Furthermore, network capability is a key feature in the age of digitalization. Since February 2019, many of V-ZUG's products have been capable of communicating with smartphones, tablets etc. This integration makes it possible to design individual and flexible solutions for customers and V-ZUG, and to use cutting-edge technologies. Thanks to our RetroFit feature, households with older appliances can take advantage of the latest product innovations. 

Graphic: Peter Hausheer, Head of Marketing & Category Kitchen, Sanitas Troesch

Stories Products and Services

Intelligent machines
As users of V-ZUG appliances, customers can actively influence the impact of a wash cycle or cooking process on the environment. However, making these decisions all the time and correctly weighing up all the factors isn’t always easy when you aren’t au fait with the technical details. Does a washing machine need less or more energy on a short programme? Does water consumption increase on a longer wash cycle? And is it more energy-efficient to cook fried potatoes in a pan or jacket potatoes in the oven?

We empower our customers to manage their environmental impact on a daily basis, both easily and accurately. The eco-programme feature, for instance, means that a standard programme on the dishwasher or washing machine runs more resource-efficiently, yet crockery and fabrics come out just as clean. And built-in EcoManagement tells you the predicted and actual energy and water consumption. V-ZUG is still in the early stages of the developments that will enable appliances to be used as “application consultants”, but lots of ideas are in the pipeline. “Imagine your hob suggests turning down the heat because it knows that the recipe works just as well on a lower setting. And you can decide from the comfort of your sofa whether or not to follow the recommendation”, suggests Stephan Keller, Director of the Technical Department. Our customers are the key players when it comes to more sustainability in the household. We are constantly working towards making caring for the environment enjoyable and something that happens without you having to think about it.

Listening to the dishwasher’s heartbeat
Innovation gives rise not only to new appliances, but to better quality ones. A proof of concept is currently being prepared which allows us to listen in to a closed appliance. In this scenario, artificial intelligence doesn’t give us eyes, but ears which enable us to listen to a machine’s insides, much as a doctor listens to a patient’s heartbeat. If, for example, the water starts making a different sound, this is a clear indication of a malfunction.
The added value of artificial intelligence lies not just in identifying the faults and the solutions. On top of this, with each application the software learns more and gets better at giving feedback. “By refining the quality checks, we avoid unnecessary service trips, while at the same making V-ZUG fit for the future and forging valuable alliances”, explains Stephan Keller, Director of the Technical Department at V-ZUG. Because for V-ZUG, innovation means working hand in hand with technology pioneers, making long-term investments and taking calculable risks. Testing out new technologies is part of this. It’s a win-win for everyone involved: the partner firm has access to a “test object”, while V-ZUG is able to trial exciting applications for nascent technologies at an early stage.

It knows better
Most people realize that a summer dress doesn’t need a thorough wash after one wear in the same way as a beach towel after a weekend by the lake. However, many of us aren’t sure what constitutes the right amount of detergent. And because we like to wear clean, nice-smelling clothes, we tend to use too much. “In terms of the environment, this isn’t great, because the machine has to use more water to contend with the excessive foam in the drum”, explains Ernst Dober, Head of Innovation, Services & Technology. Moreover, an unnecessary amount of detergent gets into the waste water.
OptiDos, a product function that was launched at the start of 2019, makes the decision about the correct amount of detergent for you: enter the water hardness just once, enter the degree of soiling if necessary and select the programme, then the washing machine does the rest. Using this information and sophisticated sensors, the machine independently works out the optimum dose of our customers’ favourite detergents. “This is a user-friendly tool which offers every household a simple way to save resources, benefiting the environment and their wallet. And we don’t restrict customers’ flexibility, because V-ZUG washing machines still allow manual dispensing”, Ernst Dober is happy to add.

Key figures Products and Services

Majority of appliances have energy efficiency class A and above
In 2018/2019, around 78 % of our appliances delivered met European energy efficiency class A or higher. This is 2.5 % fewer than in the prior period. However, this is due to the reclassification of data in connection with the switch to SAP: although appliances delivered to the USA satisfy energy efficiency class A or higher, since this reporting period they have been assigned to the “no energy efficiency class” group. Were it not for this reclassification, the percentage of appliances delivered which meet energy efficiency class A or higher would have risen by 0.5 %.
It should be borne in mind that there is no official European energy efficiency classification for certain product categories. At V-ZUG, this mainly affects hobs, warming drawers and microwaves. Moreover, not every appliance category can be awarded a classification higher than A (i.e. A+ to A+++). The appliances in class C are hoods, usage of which is relatively low compared with other household appliances. Of the appliances we manufacture ourselves, 100 % have the label A, A+, A++ or A+++.

Graphic: Appliances delivered by energy efficiency class

Sharp fall in faults
For our customers, faulty household appliances are a nuisance. For us, they also have financial implications: repairs and maintenance services which we carry out under warranty or as a goodwill gesture incur quality-related costs. To counter this, we continuously invest in optimized products and manufacturing and logistics processes. Compared with 2015/2016, the number of faults recorded by us fell by 22 % during the reporting period.

Graphic: Incidence of faults in Switzerland (indexed to 2015/2016 situation)

Slightly longer response time
If a fault does occur, our aim is to respond swiftly and, if at all possible, resolve the issue on our first visit. Speed of response and successful repair on the first visit are therefore crucial statistics for our service and support. We have steadily reduced our average response time in recent years. In this reporting period, we were unable to do this because of the switch to SAP. However, the system issues which arose have now been rectified and stabilized. In this reporting period, the rate of faults repaired on first visit was once again around 90 %, i.e. we are able to resolve nine out of ten faults on the spot.

Graphic: Average response time in days (Switzerland)