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Whirlpool Corporation SA Manufacturing Process Asessment

When Whirlpool Corporation looked to cut costs associated with producing a three-year-old, 450-liter double-door refrigerator, it needed to continue to meet the specific cabinet deflection and door drop limits of its current design; it also needed to maintain adequate cabinet stiffness.

Global competition in the appliance industry is placing ever increasing pressure on manufacturers to decrease costs while maintaining high quality. When Whirlpool Corporation looked to cut costs associated with producing a three-year-old, 450-liter double-door refrigerator, it needed to continue to meet the specific cabinet deflection and door drop limits of its current design; it also needed to maintain adequate cabinet stiffness.

Overview

Case_Study_Manufacturing_Process_Asessment_Image01Global competition in the appliance industry is placing everincreasing pressure on manufacturers to decrease costs while maintaining high quality. When Whirlpool Corporation looked to cut costs associated with producing a three-year-old, 450-liter double-door refrigerator, it needed to continue to meet the specific cabinet deflection and door drop limits of its current design; it also needed to maintain adequate cabinet stiffness. Cabinet deflection and door drop occur when a fully loaded door is opened: The cabinet distorts and the door moves downward, which eventually leads to increasing cabinet deformity. Additionally, any redesign that changed cabinet stiffness could negatively impact insulating capabilities and esthetics, which influence consumer-perceived quality.

Challenges

  • Case_Study_Manufacturing_Process_Asessment_Image02Use Six Sigma tools to assess manufacturing process and laboratory test sources of variation
  • Reduce variation to accomplish finite element model calibration
  • Optimize design to reduce sheet metal material costs while maintaining product performance and quality
  • Explore sequential strategy based on Design of Experiments and sub-problem approximation
  • Overcome difficulty in accurately evaluating cabinet deflection or door drop due to influence of variation sources

Solution

  • Employ ANSYS Mechanical to evaluate design factors that affect door drop, cabinet deflection and, ultimately, product performance, including:
    • Mass thickness of various components
    • Manufacturing process variation
  • Use sequential analysis to achieve cabinet structure optimisation

Benefits

  • Maintained quality standards by meeting specific cabinet deflection and door drop limits
  • Achieved mass optimisation via an adaptation that reduced overall cabinet mass by 26 percent while maintaining door drop and cabinet displacement to reasonable levels
  • Reduced material costs by 15 percent per product
  • Reduced yearly costs by $1.2 million

Testimonial

“By using ANSYS Mechanical software and Six Sigma tools, analysts are given the ability to develop complex finite element cabinet models calibrated with real data, enabling the optimisation of first-round physical prototypes. This procedure reduces development time and cost while meeting market requirements.”

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