“A challenge we really enjoyed solving”

Villeroy & Boch AG, a renowned manufacturer of high-quality tableware and timeless, elegant bathroom furnishings, stands as one of the world's foremost premium brands. The company encompasses various sub-brands, including Mondial, situated in western Romania, which specializes in the manufacturing of sanitary ceramics. For one of their product categories, Mondial utilizes a tailored solution from MicroStep.

Evolving from a pottery producer to a comprehensive ceramic manufacturer, from a plate producer to a producer of lifestyle, Villeroy & Boch AG has a rich history dating back to 1748. Today, it is globally recognized for its dinnerware sets, bathroom furnishings, kitchen products, and tiles, boasting an extensive portfolio distributed in 125 countries. With an annual revenue exceeding 800 million euros and a workforce of approximately 7,500 employees, the company, rooted in tradition, innovation, and exceptional design quality, remains largely family-owned by the descendants of founders François Boch and Nicolas Villeroy. Nicolas Luc Villeroy, representative of the 7th generation and a board member, underscores: “Villeroy & Boch literally brings to the table over 275 years of tradition, innovation, and outstanding design quality.”

To process flushing tanks, MicroStep developed a production line for Mondial: using a high-pressure water jet cutting machine and a robot manipulator, the ceramic products are cut, cleaned and a fully automatic process.

A unique solution
To ensure the provision of high-quality products and a diverse portfolio worldwide, Villeroy & Boch relies on additional brands and production facilities across 14 countries. The Romanian market benefits from sanitary ceramics produced under the Mondial brand. The Lugoj location in western Romania has been a part of the publicly listed corporation since 1996.

Since 2015, Mondial has leveraged a unique MicroStep solution for precision cutting of sanitary products. MicroStep developed a fully automated production cell comprising a robot manipulator, a water jet cutting machine, and a washing and drying line for mass production of flushing tanks.

The waterjet cutting machine from the AquaCut series with two 2D cutting heads has four hydraulic positioners in the cutting area that clamp the work pieces loaded by the robot and rotate them into position.

Mondial’s leap in efficiency
This system orchestrates multiple processing steps. A robot, equipped with vacuum grippers, individually retrieves ceramic tanks from a shelf trolley and places them into four designated hydraulic positioners in the water cutting table. The CNC waterjet cutting machine with its two waterjet cutting heads allows simultaneous processing of two ceramic tanks. Following the precise cutting process the same robot loads the finished products onto a conveyor belt for the subsequent cleaning and drying process, with final unloading done manually. The automated manufacturing process has proven fruitful, with approximately 300,000 ceramic tanks processed annually since its implementation in 2015.

Alexander Varga, MicroStep’s co-founder and head of research & development, reflects on the successful development of this unique production line: "The design and development of this waterjet-robot line was a challenge that we really enjoyed solving. We have already successfully implemented several cutting machine-robot combinations in recent history and our customers have each achieved a major leap in efficiency. That was also our mission with this automation solution for Mondial."

After cutting the robot loads the finished products onto a conveyor that takes them through the cleaning and drying chambers and then out for unloading. The automatic production cell is controlled via a console located outside of the production area, which is separated by a security fence.

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