All BERNINA sewing machines are developed, designed, prepared as prototypes and tested at the plant in Steckborn. Despite the strong Swiss Franc, Hanspeter Ueltschi, great-grandson of the company's founder, Karl Friedrich Gegauf, has no intention of leaving this production site. The mutual proximity of development, testing and assembly is fundamental to the quality of BERNINA products. Today, the top-of-the-line sewing as well as longarm quilting machines are manufactured in the Steckborn plant and, from there, they are distributed across the world. In addition to the prototypes for the low and mid-price range sewing machines, parts for series production are also manufactured here. The chassis for the 8 Series sewing machines are also made here. These production steps take place in the BERNINA Flextec department, where a wide range of presser feet and spare parts are also made.
Across the world, more than 1200 employees belong to the BERNINA family. Of these, 300 work in Steckborn (Product Management, Research & Development, Production, Sales, Marketing, HR, Finance and Executive Board). And employees also see themselves as members of the BERNINA family, because many have been working for BERNINA for 20, 30, 40 or even 50 years. Their many years of experience is brought to bear in the quality of the products.
In 2012, production in Steckborn was modernised and the building was refurbished to be more environmentally friendly. New ergonomic and clearly arranged work stations make work much easier.
BERNINA Thailand was founded in 1990. BERNINA Thailand produces the BERNINA sewing machines from entry level up to 7 Series, while BERNINA Switzerland still manufactures the top-of-the line machines B 880 PLUS. Also the smaller Q Series models are produced at BERNINA Thailand. In addition to producing sewing machines for the low and mid-range price ranges, the CNC production centres for parts production and the hook competency centre are located here. BERNINA Thailand is also able to maintain the high Swiss quality standards because the plant is under Swiss management on site. Strict quality checks are carried out in the assembly line and in a sewing lab. BERNINA Thailand works with the same Quality Value System as BERNINA International in Steckborn. Direct contact with the headquarters is a priority, despite the large distances involved.
Although BERNINA strives to keep production costs in general low and thus to weather the global economic challenges of today, BERNINA has a policy of social responsibility towards its Thai employees. Pay is above the minimum wage and BERNINA Thailand provides its employees with lunch and ensures a comfortable working environment through the use of air conditioning. A low staff turnover rate shows that the long-standing employees are satisfied with the conditions. Company owner Hanspeter Ueltschi decided to make Thailand a production location in 1990 due to its political stability.
BERNINA Thailand - expansion of the production plant
Bigger, more advanced, more innovative - BERNINA offers products that are always manufactured to the highest quality standards and incorporate the latest technology. It is therefore important for the company's owner, Hanspeter Ueltschi, that the production plants should always comply with the latest manufacturing standards in order to enable innovative, advanced and rapid production. In order to achieve this, BERNINA Thailand has been expanded by the addition of a third building. This offers additional production space, can be flexibly extended, and is efficient and logistically optimised. The building also offers improved ESD protection and an energy-efficient building structure. The new production plant follows the principles of "lean manufacturing": linear, transparent production processes, short transport distances, easy handling, short lead times, small amounts of work in process and the application of the pull principle to material staging.
The new production plant was opened on 12 January 2015 with the whole Ueltschi family in attendance.