Everything revolves around the right motion at Julius Blum. This manufacturer of hardware for furniture turns the opening and closing of furniture into a great experience. The company’s international success that started in Höchst (Vorarlberg) is also owed to the effective use of standards.
Around 5,500 employees, sales of more than € 1.2 billion, 27 subsidiaries and ten production sites: that is Julius Blum in facts and figures.
Based on innovative solutions and the quest for perfection, the enterprise founded in 1952 positioned itself as the leading manufacturer of functional hardware for furniture. Its high-end lift, hinge and pullout systems ensure the effortless opening and closing of doors and drawers in kitchens, bathrooms and other areas of the home. The products stand out by their sophisticated functionality, renowned design and a long life.
Blum stands for motion. Accordingly, its products are manufactured in Austria, Poland, Brazil and the USA and shipped to more than 100 countries all over the world. When a company thinks and acts globally at such a scale, standards are vital for it.
“Standards are an absolute must nowadays at the European and international level — from project-related call for tenders to quality certificates for our products. Without standards, market access would be extremely difficult and, in many cases, even impossible,” stresses Jochen Lubetz, head of quality management at Julius Blum.
Products are developed centrally at the engineering division of the headquarters in Höchst. There, all the relevant quality specifications and requirements are drawn up and co-ordinated for the production plants world-wide and production results are checked.
Certification became a key issue early on: for example, Blum’s quality management system has been certified under ISO 9001 for more than 20 years, and 15 years ago, the company already received its first environmental management certificate according to ISO 14001.
Innovations by Blum are considered milestones in furniture making. In order to make a success of its inventions – the company currently holds more than a thousand patents – Blum not only co-operates with renowned test institutes, but also has been active in standardization for many years.
Quality expert Lubetz explains: “Standardization work gives us an opportunity to respond and actively shape developments early on and, thus, protect our interests.”
According to Reinhard Mäser who was responsible for product development at Blum from 1987 to end-2011, this was of eminent importance for a globally active company: “The switch from national to European standardization was simply a blessing.”
In his own experience — he has been active in Committee 072 “Furniture” of Austrian Standards for decades up to his retirement —, harmonization resulted in a “common language”. Consequently, Blum’s experts contribute not only to the relevant committees of Austrian Standards, but also represent Austria in the related working groups of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN).
In designing its fitting systems, Blum aims to perfect opening and closing motions. In this quest, the company understands standards as minimum requirements that, in many cases, serve as benchmarks and support the continuous improvement of the products.
Hence, standards can be a driver of innovation and allow differentiation from competitors. Indeed, innovative companies such as the fitting specialist Blum from Vorarlberg know about the actual power of normative specifications and successfully take advantage of them.