Sanitaryware denotes fitments in
bathrooms such as washbasins, toilets, bidets and shower trays
all associated with personal hygiene. These items form an
essential part of a modern civilised standard of living.
However, there are still some 2.5bn people in the world who do
not have access to toilets and proper sanitation which to leads
to poor hygiene and subsequent illness in many countries.
Almost all sanitaryware is made by
slip casting and the major four components of what is known as
vitreous china (VC) are quartz, feldspar, ball clay and kaolin.
Their main function and problems that can be encountered with
incorrect recipes are shown in Table 1 (see
World sanitaryware production is
dominated by vitreous china, but fine fireclay (FFC) is an
increasingly important segment of the market. In FFC, the
pre-fired or calcined clay is the single most important
component and can account for over 40% of the body.
Within China there is chamotte
production and American Standard have FCC output. French group
Imerys produces a low-alumina sanitaryware chamotte provided by
the AGS plant in south-west France. The chamotte remains inert
in the FFC body as it is pre-fired at 2,500-2,900¡F,
acting as a skeleton that produces pieces with reduced
deformation and shrinkage.
It is possible for FFC producers to
ensure that the balance of chamotte, plastics and other
components is correct and the total shrinkage can be as low as
Raw material suppliers
There are many suppliers of raw materials for sanitaryware and
one of the leading companies is Imerys with ball clays and
china clay (kaolin) from south-west England, UK and plastic
clays, kaolin, chamotte and feldspar from Europe, Asia and
North America. Sibelco is another important company which
supplies the sanitaryware industry on a wordwide basis with
clays, kaolin, feldspar, fluxes, silica and speciality ceramic
Goonvean Ltd, a privately owned
company based in Cornwall, UK, has specialised in kaolin for
the sanitaryware industry for over 30 years. A number of
different grades are offered which include strong plastic clays
and fast casting clays, such as Diamond Sanitaryware and
Diamond Swift respectively. Customers choose their blends to
suit their specific requirements.
Diamond Swift uses a patented
process developed specifically for pressure casting. Current
sales are approximately 40,000 tpa and whilst the UK market has
shrunk dramatically Goonvean has diversified into new export
markets worldwide with some volume being maintained within the
UK and Europe.
The global sanitaryware production for 2010 is estimated at
450m. pieces (referred to as mpcs) dominated by China with 38%
(171 mpcs) as shown in Figure 1.
The major growth for sanitaryware
has been China, South East Asia, Mexico, South America and the
Middle East. Production in Western Europe and the USA has
decreased significantly owing to closures of plants and
Figure 1: Global sanitaryware production, 2010 (450m.
In the UK the following sanitaryware plants have closed since
1999 Ð Twyfords Queenborough, Twyfords Alsager, Ideal
Standard Hull, Ideal Standard Excelsior (Armitage Shanks)
Stoke, Ideal Standard Woodville (Swadlincote), Armitage Shanks
Barr Head (Glasgow), Jacuzzi UK Bradford, Heritage Bathrooms
Bradford, Trent Bathrooms Stoke, Shires Bathrooms Stoke,
Qualceram Arklow and Allia Bathrooms Stoke.
It was announced in January 2011
that Ideal Standard Middlewich would close with a 90-day
consultation period. This will leave Ideal Standard Rugeley as
the only significant sanitaryware plant in the UK.
Toto and Inax are the most important Japanese ceramic
sanitaryware producers, with sanitaryware production plants in
Japan but also established sanitaryware manufacturing plants
worldwide. Totos Atlanta, USA plant is considered as the
most advanced sanitaryware manufacturing plant in the
Inax Corp. has made a rapid and
significant contribution to helping the victims of the 11 March
2011 earthquake and tsunami through the donation of emergency
materials, including windows, tents for temporary
accommodations and materials for improving sanitary
According to Ceramic World-Web,
Inax suffered no damage to its plants although a number of
showrooms and warehouses located in the north of the country
were seriously damaged. Business activities located in the
affected areas have been suspended to save energy and assure
the safety of employees, who are working to provide aid to the
rest of the population.
Mexico is an important producer of sanitaryware especially from
the Monterrey area. Major ceramics companies in Mexico include
Ideal Standard, Kohler, Lamosa, Vilbomex, Orion, Cato,
Procemex, Confort Elegante, Anfora, Toto, Nacesa, Cermosa,
Cegomex, Desarrollos Ceramicsos and Helvex.
Helvex is investing in the central
state of Guanajuato to start up its new plant to build sinks
and other bathroom equipment with a capacity producing 150,000
products per month.
Toto started a new plant in 2008 in
Monterrey. Toto Sanitarios de Mexico produces high quality
toilets, basins and pedestals mainly for the US market.
Vitromex manufactures and sells ceramic sanitaryware, ceramic
floor/wall tiles and accessories for bathrooms. It is now
recognised as one of North Americas most important
companies for the production and sales of ceramic floor and
Karat Sanitaryware was established in 1983 with production
facilities for bathroom fixtures. In 2002, Karat became part of
Kohler and changed its name to Kohler (Thailand) Public Co.
Today, Kohler Thailand has
production facilities in Kang Khoi district, Saraburi with
multiple world-class vitreous china factories, making the
company one of the largest sanitaryware manufacturers in
Products are sold under three
brands: Kohler, Karat and Englefield. Clay from the Imerys
Ranong deposits (kaolinised granites) are sold to Karat and are
characterised by their very high casting rates owing to the
presence of halloysite and kaolinite.
A fast developing country based in UAE is RAK Ceramics. The
publicly-listed RAK Ceramics is currently the worlds
largest manufacturer of ceramic and porcelain tiles accounting
for more than $1bn global sales annually.
The companys global
production of tiles exceeds 360,000 sqm and 12,000 pieces of
sanitaryware per day from its state-of-the-art manufacturing
plants in the UAE, China, Sudan, Bangladesh and India.
RAK Ceramics has two modern
bathware plants which produce over 2.5m. ppa. They are
manufactured with the latest technologies including a
high-pressure casting bench and robot-spraying equipment which
gives each piece of bathware an even finish. RAK also has 10
medium pressure casting plants for production of wash basins,
pedestals, cisterns, lids and accessories.
The latest Italian technology for
production includes computerised kilns and for manufacturing
ABS seat covers and acrylic bath. Fire clay models are also
produced using modern technology.
China the world leader
Chinese sanitaryware production has increased from 7.32m.
pieces (mpcs) in 1984 to 174.1 mpcs in 2011. The production and
exports from 1997 to 2010 are shown in Figure 2.
Production growth slowed down from
2007 to 2009 due to the global financial situation, but
production in 2010 increased again. Exports as a percentage of
production from 1997 to 2010 are shown in Figure 4.
Since 2006 exports in mpcs have
stayed much the same but as a percentage of production have
decreased from 41.94% in 2006 to 31.47% in 2010. The total
Chinese export value in 2008 was $817.5m. decreasing in 2009 to
$667.6m. with the average unit price dropping from $14.51 to
$12.42 per piece. Decreasing exports are also due to growing
Chinese domestic demand and growth in the economy; this trend
is expected to continue.
Figure 2: Chinese sanitaryware output and exports, 1997-2010
Figure 4: % Chinese sanitaryware production exported,
Chinese sanitaryware producers
In China there are approximately 3,000 sanitaryware companies
with the top twenty international sanitaryware companies all
with operations in the country, including: Toto, Kohler, Roca,
American Standard, Inax, Duravit and others.
There are about 20 Chinese national
brands which are well established such as Tangshan Huida
Ceramics Group, Arrow Ceramics Co. Ltd, Guangdong HegII
Sanitaryware Co. Ltd, Chongqing Swell Ceramic Industry Group,
Sichuan Monarch Sanitaryware Co Ltd and Foshan EAGO
Sanitaryware Co. Ltd. The three major areas for Chinese
sanitaryware production are Chaozhou, Guangdong province,
Changge, Henan province and Tangshan, Hebei province.
The 30 leading companies in China,
accounting for 35% of production, are shown in Table 4 with
details of capacity (pieces per year) and ownership.
Table 4: Leading Chinese sanitaryware companies
Source: Eileen Hao 2011
||Capacity (pieces pa)
|Tangshan Huida Ceramic Group
|Foshan SSWW Sanitaryware Co.
|Chongqing Swell Sanitaryware Co. Ltd.
||Chongqing Light & Textile
|Jomoo Sanitaryware Co. Ltd.
|Bolina Sanitaryware Co. Ltd.
|Monopy Ceramic Co. Ltd.
|Kohler (Foshan Plant & Zibo Plant)
|Annwa Ceramic Co. Ltd.
|Roca (Foshan, YING & Giessdorf)
|American Standard (3 plants)
|Faenza Ceramics Co. Ltd.
|HegII Ceramics Co. Ltd.
|Arrow Brand Ceramics
|Oumer Ceramic Industrial Co. Ltd.
||Milim, S. Korea
|Hocheng China Co. Ltd. (HCG)
|Toto Group (3 plants)
|Foshan Micawa Ceramic Co. Ltd.
|Gold Sanitary Ware Co. Ltd.
|Victor Bathroom Products
|EAGO Sanitaryware Co. Ltd.
|Dongpeng Sanitaryware Co. Ltd.
|Henan Jieda Ceramic Group
|Henan Dayu Ceramic Group
||Imperial, Hong Kong
|Dynasty Ceramic Sanitaryware Co. Ltd
|Suzhou Inax Sanitaryware Company Ltd
|Duravit (Chongqing) Sanitaryware Co. Ltd
Figure 5: Chinese production by province (174.1
Regional Chinese production
A split of the 174.1 mpcs in China in 2010 is shown in Figure
5. Henan province with 83 mpcs accounts for 47% of total
production with three provinces - Henan, Guangdong and
Hebei - accounting for 77% of total production.
Increasing production costs
Costs of ceramic raw material prices have been rising since
early 2010 with pigment prices increasing by 15-30% and frits
by 20%. Some chemical raw materials have increased by more than
100% and the price of coal has risen from RMB500/tonne
($107/tonne) to RMB1,000/tonne ($153/tonne).
In addition, labour costs,
logistics, water and power prices are all increasing. At
present the increased costs are not being covered by increased
sales prices with cost increases in 2011 predicted to be around
The government is also introducing
measures to control speculation in real estate and rapid
increases in property prices. The anticipated downturn in real
estate is likely to lead to total sales of sanit aryware being
less in first half of 2011 than 2009.
Energy saving and emissions
reduction are being sought with some ceramic companies even
being ordered to stop production.
MB appreciation and anti-dumping
It was predicated that the RMB would appreciate 4-6% in 2011.
RMB appreciation is not only promoted by international overseas
factors but also by the need to restrain inflation in
Chinas domestic market. However, most of the Chinese
sanitaryware exports are settled based on US dollars. RMB
appreciation against the dollar reduces the profits of Chinese
In addition, Chinese sanitaryware
exports are also affected by anti-dumping in overseas markets.
Chinese sanitaryware exports will be facing more difficulties
and challenges in 2011. Therefore some sanitaryware exporting
companies in China have been putting more effort into the
Chinese domestic market.
Urbanisation, village development
and new sales and distribution concepts are also bringing new
growth opportunities for the Chinese sanitaryware industry in
the domestic market. Chinas domestic market has been
keeping the growth rate of 15% per annum. With the development
of Chinese rural areas, demand from the rural market will keep
By 2015, Chinese sanitaryware production is estimated to reach
220m. pieces with exports at 70m. pieces. Gross profits for the
industry have been up to 30% since 2005 but with increasing
costs this will be reduced to nearer 20% in 2011.
The main sanitaryware uses for
Chinas domestic markets are residences (68.79%), hotels
(10.7%), restaurant and entertainment facilities (6.19%),
offices (1.30%) and others (13.02%).
By 2015, the average overall energy
consumption of Chinese sanitaryware is targeted to be lower
than 700 kgce/t. From 2010 to 2015, lighter weight and
water-saving sanitaryware are to be promoted in China.
Regional Chinese sanitaryware production by province
Contributors: Eileen Hao, independent consultant,
specialises in a wide range of industrial minerals and market
sectors such as ceramics, glass, paper, lithium compounds, rare
earths and other minerals. She has been involved with
industrial minerals for 16 years and has worked for English
China Clays (ECC), Imerys, Roskill, Active Minerals
International and other companies.
Ian Wilson, independent consultant,
joined ECC in 1974 and retired from Imerys after 28 years
service in 2001. Wilson has worked mainly as a geologist
worldwide with ECC and also was MD of ECC do Brasil and joint
MD of CEDESCA in Spain. Wilson was project manager for
ECCs new GCC operations in Sweden and China. Since
retiring in 2001, Wilson has worked as an
independent consultant involved in many industrial minerals
including kaolin, ball clay, talc, barytes, special clays,
halloysite, magnesite, calcium carbonate (GCC and PCC), and raw
materials for ceramics, performance minerals and paper
Sanitaryware at a glance
Almost all sanitaryware is made by slip casting and the major
four components of what is known as vitreous china
(VC) are quartz, feldspar, ball clay and kaolin (Table
Table 1: Main components of a sanitaryware body and
||Problems with wrong recipe
||Main role in firing process. Helps retain the
||Too much quartz. Mismatch of glaze and body leads to
cracking after firing
||Main role in the firing process where it forms
||Too much feldspar. Over vitrification causes
deformation and/or bloating
||Influences unfired or green strength due to fine
||Too much ball clay. Causes problems with dewatering
||Good casting due to particle packing allowing
||Shortage of feldspar -high porosity - and quartz
results in glaze/body mismatch
Typical particle size distribution values for kaolin, ball
clays (very fine), non-plastics (quartz and feldspar -coarse)
and the body are shown in Table 2.
Table 2: Particle size distribution (wt.%) of kaolin,
ball clays, non-plastics and sanitaryware body
|Particle size range
Source: N.P. Glasson & N.R. Forbes, cfi/Ber. DKG 78 (2001)
Raw material percentage components of sanitaryware for vitreous
china are shown in Table 3.
Table 3: Components for sanitaryware for vitreous
|% for vitreous china
Selecting raw materials
The major influences on the properties of a casting slip are
the ball clays and kaolin that are used and these are selected
on the basis of:
a. Ease of dispersion and
deflocculation during slip preparation;
b. Rheological stability of the
c. Good casting performance in
conventional and pressure casting systems;
d. Good strength, plasticity and
workability of the cast piece.
Source: Tim Golder (cfi/Ber. DKG 84
Stable fired properties, and in
particular pyroplasticity, are also necessary considerations.
As well as these physical characteristics important factors in
the choice of clays also include consistency, reliability of
supply and controlled levels of impurities such as water
Traditionally, ball clays are said
to be mixtures of kaolinite, illite and quartz. Recent detailed
studies of ball clays from Devon show that the mineralogy is
more complicated. A typical ball clay examined by XRD, shows
Mica 2M1 (refers to the polytype of the mica, basically a 2M1
muscovite type mica). I/IS refers to illite and mixed-layers
illite-smectites with presence of kaolinite, quartz,
orthoclase, plagioclase and anatase (see Figure
Figure 3: SEM of ball clay
Other sanitaryware minerals
Wollastonite: addition of wollastonite to sanitaryware
can reduce cracks, eliminate pre-drying, vitrifying temperature
can be reduced by up to 20oC, and the acicular
nature gives rise to faster drainage thus increasing the
used as a flux to reduce the firing temperature, especially for
sanitaryware bodies designed for lower firing temperatures
below 1,200C. Talc is also added to sanitaryware bodies (2-5%)
to achieve better thermal stability. Talc is often used in
glaze at around 2-4% to improve the bonding/joining between
glaze and body.
Zircon: the main use of zircon in the
ceramics industry is as an additive to glazes used on ceramic
tiles to provide opacity. The sanitaryware industry is a major
market for zircon, where it is added to the high-gloss glaze as
an opacifer. The zircon for sanitaryware as an opacifer is
ground to 95% passing 45µm. Other grades, which are
micronised, have a d50 of 1.2µm with a size range of
Chinese sanitaryware acquisitions and expansions
- On 18 May 2009, Inax acquired American Standard Asia
Pacific for Û112m. ($160m.)
In August 2006, Roca acquired Eagle Brand Holdings
subsidiary, Eagle Brand Bathroom Products Co., for RMB
250m. ($38m.) and formed a new company called Xinle
Bathroom Products (Ying) Co. Ltd.
In March 2009, Xinle Bathroom Products (Ying)
Co. Ltd. acquired Giessdorf Bathroom & Kitchen Co.
Ltd. located in Jiangmen, Guangdong province.
In 2009, SCIEN Sanitaryware was acquired by Zhuhai Boao
Bathroom Products (subsidiary of Seagull Group).
In December 2009, Zhangzhou Wanjia Ceramic Industry Co.
Ltd. Ð a subsidiary of Bolina Italiana Sanitaryware
acquired US company Western Pottery Inc.
Xiamen Lota and HCG jointly invested $35m. in 2009 and
established Yota (China) Co. Ltd producing and selling
bathroom and kitchen units in China.
In December 2010, French T&B Investment Co. and
Foshan Baili Sanitaryware & Bathroom Products formed
New Foshan Baili Sanitaryware & Bathroom Products.
In 2010, Nanjing Dalang Materials Co. Ltd. and ROY
Sanitaryware & Bathroom Products jointly formed
Foshan ROY Ceramic Co. Ltd.
In 2008, Kohler acquired Zhuhai Jiade Kitchen and
Bathroom Products and Caml Shower Panels.
In May 2009, Chongqing Light & Textile Group acquired
On 14 February 2011, German sanitaryware and bathroom
producer Grohe announced that it plans to invest
Û324m. in Chinese company JOYOU becoming their
second largest shareholder.
Shengluda Group will build 10 sanitaryware tunnel kilns
in the next three years