Tag Archives: Whirlpool Parts

The Look of Stainless Steel Has Lost the Look of Love

It has been a 25-year run for the look of stainless steel, but has it’s time come?

In our constantly changing world, the newest look always seems to be the most sought after product that we can purchase. Currently, it is a pivotal moment in kitchen design, causing major manufacturers to speculate as to the new look that will succeed stainless steel in the world of kitchen design. The trend seems to point to the major decline of the ever popular stainless steel, even though there does not seem to be any clear successor lining up to de-throne the reigning finish king.

The appliance industry has tried to introduce and promote new finish looks before, which led to no success. “Oiled-bronze,” “antique copper,” and a gray hue called “meteorite” are a few that almost made a run for champ of the kitchen finishes. Whirlpool Corporation, the world’s now largest appliance manufacturer, recently introduced its “Ice Collection” of appliances, including glossy white. “White is the new stainless steel,” quotes a Whirlpool representative.

Wishful thinking? One might think so since competitor General Electric, just last week, introduced refrigerators, ovens, microwaves and dishwashers in a muted gray called “slate,” and this will soon be coupled with new high-gloss finishes that they plan to unleash to the U.S. sometime soon.

Bottom line, introducing a new finish is a risk, and one that can cost enough to make the colors matter. Development takes approximately a year or so, which is a lengthy amount of time, especially in the appliance industry. Typically, stores will grant extra space to new ideas, but usually manufacturers’ have to work within a given number of slots, which means that if the product is unsuccessful than the manufacturer has just lost significant numbers on overall sales.

Why does this matter? Why are manufacturers’ even bothering with “color-scheming?” Essentially, the appliance market is in need of a significant boost due to the slump in the housing market, which has resulted in an even more significant slump in appliance sales. This means that manufacturers’ are trying to dazzle the buyer with new looks at every turn.

Fear not, for stainless steel is not being completely pushed out. However, there is a changing role that kitchens are playing in the American household, and this role reflects the changing times, of which appliance manufacturers are well aware. Therefore, manufacturers will continue to keep stainless steel finish in their collections, but consumers should be on the look-out for new and innovative looks for very common appliances. Within the past decade, kitchens have been central to the home in the sense that children and parents alike spent a significant portion of their time bonding in that central location. However, with every room having a television and technology added to it, the family now splits at dinner time and this makes for the kitchen to be a much less essential place of meeting. But this breakdown of the American home is one that appliance manufacturers are looking to change and they hope to once again make the kitchen a place of gathering and quality time.

It is certainly whimsical to think that common appliances and their related finishes can have such profound effect on our everyday lives. However, this is precisely the thinking that manufacturers task their marketing team with in order to rejuvenate the family spirit in the modern American home. You may feel a tug of nostalgia in the coming years, but the question will be if this is targeted marketing, or just are you really longing for that special “look of steel?”

American Manufacturing Key to Security

How critical is American manufacturing to American security?

You can consider this the “Part II” to the post from last week discussing a report, filed by two former professionals of the Department of Homeland Security, where they made the strong assertion that America grows weaker with every product that is produced, developed or shipped to the United States with which American consumers are dependent upon. The main point of that report was to warn of a growing vulnerability that is the result of increased reliance on foreign shipping and the prediction that America’s strength is tremendously undermined should a crisis hit or should we be engaged in hostile activity with foreign supplier.

Assuming we take this report at face value, it seems warranted to be overly concerned about the implications of such proposed weaknesses that America seems to have and the truth of how strong these implications are. Simply put, we are at risk because we don’t supply our own citizens with supplies, causing us to rely upon our foreign suppliers to aid us through all times, including the times of great natural or man-made catastrophes. Essentially, this report is one that makes a simple yet well-founded claim that proves to be a laborious task to refute.

How can an argument be made that we are NOT vulnerable? It is a fact that we rely on foreign suppliers for nearly all of our basic products and while this may prove cost-effective it could certainly lead to our own demise. In a world where hostile intentions are never lacking and global strength is always a savory prospect, it seems careless to allow all of our supplies to come to us instead of being made by us.

Interestingly enough, this report is coupled with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s recent proposal to propose tariffs on leading producers like Samsung and Electrolux, in which there is a hope that the act of “dumping” will be reduced and that leading producers will think twice before supporting foreign suppliers that engage in “dumping.” On the other hand, a producer like Whirlpool seems to be on board with eventually having most of their products manufactured in America and hope to be much more American based by 2013, according to the DoC investigation report from July. This could mean a serious shift in production and sales in the market and if other other leading producers are not willing to jump on bandwagon, they quite possibly could be left in the proverbial dust.

Is this enough? Policing the foreign markets could prove to help American infrastructure while crippling production for leading producers. The question then becomes a matter of which is more important. Furthermore, is a reliance on foreign manufacturing simply the way that it has to be? Can there even be an alternative option for the United States?

The overwhelming concern of national security seems to pervade every market and industry throughout the global economy. We must decide if this is something we can change but, more importantly, if we can do we actually want to change. Do we want to change our way of life? Is it even possible?

We leave this, as always, to you, the consumer. It still remains that every leading producer still needs to sell their product which is where you fit in quite nicely. Your role is critical, essential, and ultimately the determinant of how vulnerable this country will be in the future years.

Manufacturing Needs to Be Major Priority

New report calls into question U.S. dependence on foreign suppliers

This past July a report was filed by former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and former Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security Robert B. Stephan in which they called into question the United States’s excessive dependence on foreign suppliers, especially in the wake of a catastrophic event. Essentially, this report stated that the U.S. runs the risk of being dangerously unprepared for serious emergencies due to the off-shoring of critical manufacturing sectors and a reliance on foreign suppliers for products that are needed during a time of crisis.

This report was released by the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) and it states that the U.S. desperately needs to revitalize its manufacturing capacity to reduce vulnerability. What vulnerability, you may ask? The report claims that with an increase in natural and man-made disasters, along with an increase in cyber-attacks and pandemics, the U.S. cannot afford to rely on foreign partners for the majority of critical supplies. “Relying on a potentially hostile trading partner in a time of need puts our national security at risk,” the report states. Does it really though? Are we at risk simply by allowing the bulk of our manufactured supplies to come from other parts of the world?

This is the question we pose to you. Certainly, we understand that the world is full of hostile intentions and hidden motives, but does something as simple as where our supplies come from really pose a potential threat to our national security? If so, how can we combat this? The argument can be made that in times of catastrophe we are certainly much more vulnerable if we have to rely on outside suppliers to give U.S. citizens vital supplies.

Does the solution simply involve a revitalization of American manufacturing? Also, how does this effect larger producers like Whirlpool and Electrolux, considering the recent Department of Commerce decision regarding “dumping?” Will we see an increased separation in business traffic between these two major producers of appliances?

Our reliance on foreign suppliers is a fact, not an opinion. We do rely on foreign suppliers for everything ranging from steel, cement, batteries, and critical high-technology components to every day medical supplies like antibiotics and penicillin. The potential result could be that the U.S. will not have the access it needs to everyday supplies and therefore will experience delayed shipping along with poorer quality of some imported products. But fact ends and opinion begins in deciding whether it is an issue worthy of reaching all of our concerns. Has the time finally come for American manufacturing to take a stand?

Whirlpool issues a challenge all in the name of developing new “Smart Grid” technologies

Whirlpool has announced that all of their appliances will be Smart Grid compliant by 2015.  According to this article by GreenBiz.com, Whirlpool hopes to, “create an open, global standard for home appliances to transmit and receive signals by 2010.”

Smart Grid Diagram for the U.S. Dept. of Energy

Smart Grid Diagram for the U.S. Dept. of Energy

Such appliances would be able to send and receive information from a new Smart Grid electrical system that is already under development in certain parts of the United States.

Our current electrical system cannot detect energy demand, so energy producers run their companies at maximum capacity to insure there is enough energy to meet demand. It would be like running your heat or AC all the time because you did not know whether it was hot or cold. Obviously, this is a very inefficient and imperfect way to do things.

A Smart Grid would work to detect how much energy is being demanded and produce only what is needed. Using the new two-way communication possibilities, home appliances could be turned on only when electricity is abundant and inexpensive. You’re new “smart appliance” might, for instance, only turn itself on during off-peak hours.

Whirlpool hopes to form public private partnerships with utility companies, policy makers, appliance industry, NGO’s and other technology-based companies.  The upcoming Copenhagen climate change conference is where Whirlpool hopes to develop a plan to move forward.

Manufacturer’s moving to smart appliances is not new. In 2008, General Electric started testing its line of smart appliances which would also communicate with smart grid system to delay certain appliance activities such as refrigerators skipping defrost cycles.

The Smart Grid is a way for the United States to become more energy efficient and to feed energy back into the system through renewable sources. President Barack Obama has included includes $4.5 billion for Smart Grid projects which is part of the $787 billion stimulus bill.

Whirlpool is a home appliances manufacturer and also owns and produces appliances under the KitchenAid, Maytag, and Amana brands.

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