Construction of the new innovation and production center started
In March, the construction of the new GF Machining Solutions facility in Biel (Switzerland) began. The modern plant, which is taking shape on an area of 24’500 m2, will be built for the production of machine tools and spindles. It will also include a state-of-the-art research and development center and an innovative application center. The first employees will move in at the beginning of 2019. The plant will replace the Swiss sites in Nidau, Ipsach and Luterbach and provide space for approximately 450 workplaces. In total, GF will have invested around CHF 80 million in the Biel location by 2020.
15 years “Clean Water” Foundation
Since 2002, GF’s “Clean Water” Foundation has been supporting sustainable projects to provide people around the world with clean drinking water. Over the past 15 years, GF has invested over CHF 10 million in the foundation. Until today, more than 130 projects have been implemented, providing about 300’000 people with better access to clean drinking water. Since 2012, the foundation has been working mainly with Caritas Switzerland; the NGO realizes about half of the “Clean Water” drinking water projects. In 2017, various projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America were defined in order to improve the living conditions of people in Nepal, Kenya, and Bangladesh.
Developing the transportation system of the future
Since spring 2017, GF Automotive has been supporting the Swissloop team of ETH Zurich. The Swiss University team developed and built a transport capsule for the Hyperloop project initiated by Tesla founder Elon Musk. The idea: a new high-speed transportation system will transport passengers and goods up to 1ʼ200 km/h in capsules (called pods) through a vacuum tube. As a main sponsor, GF Automotive supports the team in developing and manufacturing an aluminum lightweight component for the pod’s chassis. In August 2017, Swissloop entered the Hyperloop Competition II and made it into the top three on the test track in California.
Fostering flexible working models, extending parental leave
In addition to up-to-date working models, the compatibility of work and family is one of the key characteristics of a modern employer today. Therefore, GF introduced a new policy for employees in Switzerland: as of 1 June 2017, GF strengthens flexible working models such as part-time work, job sharing, and home office. Furthermore, the company extended the existing maternity or paternity leave by another three weeks. At the same time, GF guarantees women a comparable job for up to one year after the birth of their child, thus supporting them in returning to work after maternity leave.
Strengthening presence in North America
In July 2017, GF Piping Systems acquired Urecon Ltd., Coteau-du-Lac (Quebec, Canada), a specialist in pre-insulated piping systems for freeze protection and chilled water. The acquisition strengthens GF Piping Systems’ presence in North America and accelerates the introduction of its pre-insulated COOL-FIT piping system into the local markets. Urecon Ltd. was founded in 1969 and employs around 100 employees. The Canadian company has two state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities and holds a strong market position in the field of high-quality pre-insulated piping systems.
In September, GF Machining Solutions acquired 100% of the shares of Symmedia GmbH, Bielefeld (Germany). The acquisition is in line with the division’s strategy to digitalize its offering. Symmedia, a specialist for the secure interconnection of machines, has been providing software solutions for a wide range of industries for more than 20 years. To date, over 15’000 machines worldwide have been equipped with Symmedia software. Thanks to the newly-acquired technology, GF Machining Solutions is able to accelerate its digital transformation and offer its customers complete solutions in the area of Industry 4.0.
Opening of new light metal plant in the USA
At the beginning of October 2017, the new high-pressure die-casting facility of GF Linamar LLC was opened in North Carolina, USA. The new plant, measuring 33’000 m2, provides space for 300 employees and state-of-the-art die-casting machines. As of June 2018, the joint venture between GF and the Canadian manufacturing specialist Linamar will produce light metal components for the strategically important automotive market in North America. The plant will be well-utilized in the coming years: already in September 2017, a US manufacturer placed a major order for a total of approximately USD 300 million with a term of five years.
Expanding light metal footprint
GF Automotive has strengthened its portfolio in the field of aluminum die-casting. In November 2017, the division acquired Eucasting Ro SRL, a high-pressure aluminum die-casting specialist with two production sites in Romania. The acquisition follows GF Automotive’s strategy to expand its presence in the growing light metal components business. With a workforce of approximately 600 employees, Eucasting generates a turnover of about CHF 50 million. 70% of the sales are achieved in the automotive segment followed by lighting solutions and further industrial applications.