Local production for global coverage.
With more than 500 product lines marketed worldwide, Steelcase has set up a strong production network currently comprised of 25 facilities.
In Europe, there are five Steelcase plants two in France (Sarrebourg and Wisches), two in Germany (Durlangen and Rosenheim) and one in Spain (Madrid).
Worldwide, Steelcase has been optimizing the entire value chain: incorporating both the needs and capabilities of the dealer service partners, supply chain partners and logistics providers. In the last years, Steelcase opened several regional distribution centers around the United States in order to improve service to customers and dealers and reduce freight cost throughout the value stream.
In order to ensure the same level of product quality and performance and environmental performance, all Steelcase manufacturing facilities received successively, as from 1996, a certification:
- ISO 90001: All around the world we have management systems for Quality (ISO 9000). This ensures that our customers are guaranteed the same level of product quality and performance. Testing for durability and safety is rigorous and products often exceed the official standards.
- ISO 14001 is an environmental management standard intended to help organizations minimize their impacts on the environment. It complies with applicable laws, regulations, and other environmentally oriented requirements. All European Steelcase production sites and our production site in Toronto, Canada have environmental management systems that are certified under ISO 14001. We are currently working to achieve certification at 2 locations in Asia and 2 locations in the United States.
- EMAS II (only in Germany) is a EU voluntary instrument which acknowledges organisations that improve their environmental performance on a continuous basis.
- LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is conducted by the US Green Building Council in North America.
- PEFC: Steelcase was the first company in Europe to receive a multi-site PEFC certification; for its production facilities at four European sites. The certification acknowledges that Steelcase has gone to great lengths to ensure that the wood used in its products has been sourced from environmentally friendly suppliers.
Because of the European market drop between 2001 and 2004 and in order to remain competitive, Steelcase decided to cut down production costs, delays between order and delivery as well as stocks. In such a context, lean management appeared to be the most appropriate solution to sort out the issue. Lean management had a dramatic impact and enabled Steelcase to keep growing within a much segmented market.
All Steelcase plants are 100% dedicated to lean manufacturing. The applied method was inspired by the lean policy initiated by Steelcase in the USA about ten years ago. Recognized as a pioneer in this particular field, Steelcase Inc. was awarded through David Mann, Manager of Lean Management and Organizational Development who received in 2006 the coveted Shingo Prize which promotes awareness of lean manufacturing concepts, as did the prize's namesake Japanese industrial engineer Shigeo Shingo, who was one of the world's leading experts in improving manufacturing processes.
Lean management philosophy consists in building a dynamic and light organization driven by continuous improvements, the objective of which is to optimize the global supply chain.
In the same perspective, Steelcase was the first company in the office furniture industry to apply the expertise of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in the design of new products. Approved by the European Union for environmental evaluation, the LCA methodology - the objective of which is to set up a basis for making the right choices during the development process and hence producing cleaner products - relies on the ISO 14044 certification. The production stage - as part of the product life cycle - has been carefully reconsidered during the last years from a sustainability point of view.
Ergonomics at the plants
At Steelcase, employees’ health and safety is as important as what we provide customers. The company has always been striving to create products which take into consideration both production and assembling easiness.
Steelcase objectives are clear in this matter:
- Enable employees to meet their professional goals while safeguarding their health and safety.
- Reduce efforts at the job (which means more efficiency and better quality) and favor integration of people with medical restriction.
- Increase well-being and employees’ satisfaction within plants.
The approach is the same as the one applied at customers and is based on observation, films and pictures and then interviews of workers. Results are therefore analyzed and discussed within specific committees in order to generate continuous improvements.