Products and innovations
A key aspect of GF’s Strategy 2020 across the three divisions is the transformation of GF from a pure product and system provider to a provider of integrated solutions.
The goal is to support customers in the most meaningful way with added-value services over the entire life cycle of offered solutions. Here, the sustainability aspects of GF’s products play an integral role in achieving the purpose of all its business activities.
For GF Piping Systems, this refers to ensuring and safeguarding long-lasting, leak-free, and high-quality transportation of water, gas, and chemicals.
For GF Casting Solutions, this means designing and producing lightweight components for the next generation of mobility solutions.
For GF Machining Solutions, this is providing customers with modern high-precision machines and solutions that, among other sustainability benefits, significantly improve the energy efficiency of product manufacturing in a variety of the division’s customer segments.
GF Piping Systems
Strategy and solutions
“Making flow sustainable” is a clear goal that GF Piping Systems set itself when it comes to its products and solutions. This carries a triple meaning:
- GF Piping Systems wants to make sure that their customers enjoy sustainable flow of water, gas, or chemicals without safety issues, leakages, and other environmentally challenging consequences.
- GF Piping Systems wants to make sure that their solutions improve the sustainability of its customers in terms of energy use and CO2 footprint.
- GF Piping Systems wants to support the sustainable success of customers by increasing their efficiency during installation and operation of GF’s systems compared to traditional systems.
The division, therefore, works on creating solutions that address a variety of issues facing consumers and society:
- Tackling the problem of waterborne Legionnaires’ disease and ensuring that drinking water installations follow the highest hygiene standards.
- Helping to mitigate the worldwide losses of drinking water due to leakages in aging infrastructure.
- Creating solutions for the otherwise energy-intensive cooling process of the increasing number of data centers.
- Contributing to the development of sustainable city infrastructure and the growing green building sector.
The study report “Management of Legionella in Water Systems” estimates that around 52’000 to 70’000 Americans suffer from Legionnaires’ disease each year.1 Legionnaires disease afflicts and kills more people in the USA than any other reported waterborne disease. The Hycleen Automation System, developed and produced by GF Piping Systems, is a state-of-the-art circulation control system that ensures uniformly high temperatures and water exchange in the piping network, which prevent Legionella infestation thanks to hydraulic balancing and automatic flushing. This system is simple to install and operate, allowing for energy savings due to automated hydraulic balancing.
It is expected that the world population will reach close to 10 billion people by 2050, whereby two-thirds of the world population will live in cities. Therefore, sustainable urban concepts will be key to meet the environmental challenges of the future. The pre-insulated piping system COOL-FIT 4.0 enables customers to work with high efficiency, while reducing maintenance and operating costs. For example: a cold food store uses 1’500 meters of piping to transport cold water for the cooling system. COOL-FIT releases about 100 tons less CO2 than a metal system during production and operation. This saving is equivalent to a journey of 446’000 kilometers by car.
GF Piping Systems
The division focuses on system solutions and high-quality components for the safe transport of water, chemicals and gases.
GF Casting Solutions
Strategy and solutions
In conjunction with the action by governments around the world2 to limit CO2 emissions, including those from the transportation sector, numerous automotive producers have communicated ambitious targets of their own3 and clearly extended their expectations also to their supply chains. Therefore, future development relies strongly on the development of lightweight and alternative drive systems. The reduction of components and the manufacturing of lighter parts, thereby lowering the weight of the vehicle, are indisputably among the most important factors for reducing fuel consumption and emissions during the vehicle’s usage.
The vision of GF Casting Solutions is to be the first choice solution provider for lightweight casting components. In 2018, GF Casting Solutions entered the Aerospace and Energy markets through the acquisition of the precision casting specialist Precicast. In November 2019, the division celebrated the opening of a new tool and mold manufacturing center, which is located next to the foundry in Suzhou, China. With state-of-the-art equipment and a high degree of automation, it provides more flexibility, speed, and precision – strengthening the global production of complex lightweight casting components.
GF Casting Solutions is continuously sharpening its innovation focus and working on developing new and optimally suited materials and new technologies (e.g. multi-material design). The division is developing cutting-edge production technologies and in doing so is constantly ensuring that its solutions have the highest level of functional integration. The most successful projects have resulted in casting components that are lighter and more cost-effective and thus provide customers with two distinct benefits.
The division places a strong focus on ready-to-mount solutions and gets involved in the development of new vehicles at an earlier design stage. In addition to this, alternative powertrains and e-mobility have begun to have a significant impact on the automotive sector. Since one of the central challenges of electric vehicles is how to offset the weight of the heavy battery, the expertise of GF in lightweight technology is right on the mark to deliver the required solutions. Aluminum and magnesium high-pressure die-casting is GF’s solution for crash-relevant components in a lightweight design. Collaborations exist with a number of well-known customers to develop components for electric vehicles, some of which are already in high-volume production.
GF Casting Solutions
The vision is to be the first choice solution provider for lightweight casting components.
GF Machining Solutions
Strategy and solutions
GF Machining Solutions places emphasis on highest quality and innovation in order to differentiate itself from competitors. The division’s vision is to be a trusted partner of the global precision machining industry during all phases of a machine’s lifecycle. The focus is on the reliability of the products to avoid unplanned interruptions, as well as on supporting customers in significantly improving the efficiency of their manufacturing operations. Increased automation, digitalization and connectivity of the machines, and a progressive increase of their “intelligence” are key parts of this development.
GF Machining Solutions collaborates closely with its customers from the pre-sales production concept phase to the end of the equipment’s lifecycle, at which point the used systems are refurbished. With the introduction of remote access solutions, a further step has been taken in order to offer fast response times and remote maintenance capabilities.
Ensuring the energy efficiency of the machines is becoming intrinsic to the expectations of quality by customers is a topic that is steadily attracting rising attention from regulators around the world. For this reason, GF Machining Solutions is continuously working on developing solutions that will allow customers to produce their components with lower energy consumption. Standard energy management solutions allowing systems to shut down during idle periods and auxiliary equipment to switch on have been introduced.
The key focus of product development at GF Machining Solutions is to offer breakthrough solutions that reduce the environmental impact of the customer’s production process. As an example, targeted advancements realized by the division in the technology of the EDM machines allowed for increased energy efficiency of 30% to 40% (depending on the type of model) between the machines released in 2015 and in 2019. A further breakthrough in EDM was also the development of Spark Track technology, which won the 2019 Prodex Award in Switzerland, and allows for increased productivity and lower energy costs per produced part.
A variety of other features developed by GF Machining Solutions offer an improved ecological balance of the machines. These include clean filtration systems with automatic particle separation, separation of chips and cutting fluid, reduction of compressed air consumption, and adaptation of the power of the machine pump according to customers’ needs in terms of filtration, cooling, and flushing.