Our location is a matter of stance.
Instead of relocating production to low-wage countries in the 90s like many other companies, BHS has invested around €80 million in domestic production sites since 1998. We are now a world leader in technology. Flexibility, professionalism, state-of-the-art production facilities, in-house tool making, internally developed automation, special machine construction and environmental targets have all allowed us to gain competitive advantages, and everything is made in Germany. The second quality initiative, which we consider to be indispensable, is consistently investing in the further training of our employees. We believe that having an edge in terms of expertise defines who is winning or losing in the market.
Not all porcelain is made equal
Professional porcelain needs to be particularly hard-wearing. To avoid it showing the daily stresses of professional kitchens, not only is a special formula for the porcelain and glaze required, careful control of the firing process of the kilns - measuring up to 70 metres in length - is also needed at our Schönwald and Weiden sites. An understanding of the demands of subsequent use is required to make products suitable for the food service industry and therefore we take additional processing steps. The art of porcelain production is producing exactly the same quality every day and standing out from the crowd in the definition of perfect quality.
with the aim to transform key trends into products in our fast-moving world we continuously reduce and optimise the timeframes needed for developing new porcelain ranges at all stages. Seamlessly transforming ideas into production is the only way to guarantee success. Only those who use their imagination to think outside of the box on a daily basis and allow their ideas to be moulded by commitment, meticulousness and the state of the art can achieve excellence in ceramics.
“Perfection is not a state but a process that you consistently pursue.” Rainer Schwarzmeier, Member of the Board for Production and Logistics
Our production plant in Weiden (Oberpfalz), founded in 1881, is not just the cradle of porcelain for food service. Today it is one of the largest porcelain manufacturers in Europe, boasting a capacity of almost 30 million items or 9,000 tonnes of porcelain per year. Approximately 400 employees work at the state-of-the-art and highly automated production facilities for porcelain worldwide, starting with the initial forming and culminating in fully automatic sorting. Up to 120,000 plates and cups leave the plant for the logistics centre in Selb on a daily basis. With its production site in Weiden, BHS is one of the most important employers in the region.
Well sorted in the future
In 2018, we invested in the latest generation of automatic sorting equipment with a view to guaranteeing the quality of our products. In addition to completely angular parts, Noble China plates, complicated raised patterns and festooned items can now be sorted. Even irregularities in raised patterns can be automatically detected, in addition to shape defects, iron stains, cracks, pin holes and edge damage. As a result, up to 800 items can be sorted per hour, with merchandise defects being statistically recorded at the same time.
Pioneer in the development of special machines
Be it machine loading, polishing, glazing, spraying or painting, robots are indispensable assistants in all stages of production. The automatic application of handles to cups using machines is one of the most innovative developments in recent years – a robot technology that was developed in collaboration with BHS. One particular element of this is important to us: so far there have been no compulsory redundancies due to the use of the robots. On the contrary, the cooperation of robots and well-trained staff creates high-quality porcelain at competitive prices and safeguards jobs.
Since 2018, the Schönwald plant (Oberfranken), specialised in the production of complex items, has been equipped with the world’s most advanced firing technology. Boasting a similarly advanced level of technology as Weiden, Schönwald has a level of flexibility that was previously unheard of in the industry thanks to the new fully processed fast firing kilns. Today, around 350 employees produce a highly complex range of more than 1,100 items and ensure that BHS is among the most renowned manufacturers in the world as a specialist in professional porcelain.
State-of-the-art firing technology
Equipped with 56 high-speed burners and measuring 56 metres in length and 4 metres in width, the state-of-the-art bisquit kiln, installed at the Schönwald plant in 2018, not only boosts the flexibility and production capacity of the site to 12 million items or 4,800 tonnes of porcelain per year. The trailblazing technology enables operation of the kiln tailored to requirements and is therefore an essential component of energy-optimised, sustainable production of porcelain. This is also the key to securing competitiveness. With a production time of 13.5 hours, it works at a faster pace than its predecessor. Around 40 trolleys fit into the kiln at once, which is designed for a maximum temperature of 1,100 degrees, however it is operated at approximately 950 degrees in practice.
Digital product development
The days of creating our products at the drawing board and at the wheel are long gone. We use CAD for conception and design purposes. In the modelling department, 3D scanners and printers are replacing arduous manual modelling and facilitating the creation of plastic models in the shortest time possible. The directly connected tool making department ensures a very rapid response rate.
Decoration and logistics centre
The control centre for our highly efficient and effective supply chain is located in Selb. In the decoration and logistics centre (DLZ), highly automated processes ensure that up to 10 million porcelain items are decorated each year and up to 40 million items are shipped all over the world via our loading platforms. Our employees guarantee a high level of service thanks to the close proximity of order processing, production, storage, shipping and customs.
“Using comprehensive IT systems, we develop control mechanisms that are arguably unique in our competitive environment. The systems are integrated in a supply chain management system that is continuously optimised. The very quick response rate and high level of flexibility of the logistics process provide a basis for the excellent service of our brands. This is what makes us stand out from the competition.” Markus Erb, Executive director for Logistics
From order entry to the loading platform in two hours
12 lanes, 12 warehouse stacker cranes, 120,000 storage positions, combined with 700 m conveyor technology, 12 lifters and 60 converters. Modern storage technology has guaranteed fully automatic processes in the decoration and logistics centre since 2002. In line with the goods-to-man principle, our logistics department is able to process customer orders quickly and reliably, regardless of their size and structure. Orders of an average size are processed from the incoming order and approval to the transportable consignment within 2 hours. The collaborative effort of man and machine allows BHS to process more than 70,000 consignments per year in the DLZ – never loosing sight of the aim of offering the customer a reliable service.
The decoration of porcelain, whether as a standard offering or tailored to the customer’s wishes, is an important part of BHS. Perfect coordination between skilled and experienced people and machines can also be found here. Robots are not just used for simple processing and transport tasks. While spray robots now feature among the state-of-the-art technologies of many manufacturers, BHS has developed programmes that enable robots to swing the brush and, following the trend of rustic decorations, add colour to the white porcelain by painting.
The Executive Board, management and administration of BHS tabletop AG are based in the historical buildings of Ludwigsmühle in Selb. The brand TAFELSTERN is also headquartered there. The classical ensemble located in a park includes several villas formerly owned by factory owners, built at the end of the 19th century, which have been lovingly restored and adapted to the requirements of modern digital offices.