November 18, 2017

Archives for August 2009

Cash For Clunkers – Appliance Clunkers

Here’s some good news if you’ve got an old household appliance you’ve been wanting to replace. The government’s $300 million dollar incentive plan will help you pay for it. The plan is meant to help the appliance industry by giving a boost to slow appliance sales nationwide, but the relatively small amount of cash will not make a big impact on major appliance appliance dealers such as Whirlpool, GE, and Electrolux. There are also some potentially confusing details to be worked out:

The Wall Street Journal says unlike the clunkers plan, the program allows each state to pick qualifying models and tailor rebate amounts. Ohio might decide one washing machine qualifies for a $100 rebate, while California picks another for $125.

Manufacturers and retailers said they are reluctant to ramp up production or order new stocks until it is clear what models qualify. The Department of Energy, which designed the program, wants states to focus on just 10 categories of appliances carrying the federal Energy Star seal of approval for efficiency.

But other details are still uncertain. States could ask to include up to 46 other types of products, ranging from light bulbs to computers. While rebates are expected to range between $50 and $200, qualifying models and precise rebate amounts won’t be provided until late this year or early next.

Some of the nation’s biggest appliance makers are lobbying to make the plan rules uniform nationwide. They said the unknowns and the varying rules by state will make the program harder to explain to shoppers, in turn making it tougher to win sales.

The program “will provide consumers a unique opportunity to save money on energy-efficient appliances,” said Dave McCalpin, chief marketing officer for GE Appliances. He said Fairfield, Conn.-based GE is working with state governments to adopt rebate programs that rely on Energy Star ratings.

Some states are considering standards that exceed Energy Star requirements, a move GE opposes. “We believe it is very important that rebate programs are consistent across the country,” Mr. McCalpin said.

The stricter proposals underscore criticisms that the Energy Star program is not tough enough in raising energy efficiency. The Environmental Protection Agency is looking at revising the program’s standards. If it does so after the states set their rules, the rebates could end up subsidizing some appliances that are not as energy efficient as they could be.

Wahl Best Facial Hair Contest

Wahl Clipper Corp. is celebrating its 25th anniversary of the facial hair trimmer with the launch of its “Wahl Man of the Year” photo contest to find the best mustache, goatee and beard in America.

Men can enter the contest by submitting a photo at www.wahlnation.com. National winners will receive a 42-inch flat panel HDTV. Entries must be submitted by Dec. 13 and the national winners in each category — beard, mustache and goatee — will be announced March 15, 2010.

As part of the initiative, the Wahl Let It Grow Tour and mobile barbershop hit the road in August and will travel through October, searching for men with great facial hair as well as educate men on proper trimming techniques.

Wahl will be using the new Lithium Ion grooming tool to provide trims throughout the tour. A tour schedule can be found on Wahl’s Web site.

For every “Man of the Year” photo contest entry, $1 (up to a maximum of $5,000) will be donated to Movember, the month formerly known as November, when men grow a mustache for 30 days to raise funds and awareness to fight against prostate and testicular cancer. All funds raised will benefit Movember’s beneficiary sponsors, the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Livestrong. Wahl will also award a 42-inch HDTV to the top fundraiser of Movember’s U.S. campaign.

Recall: Black & Decker Coffeemakers By Applica Consumer Products Due to Burn Hazard

Name of Product: Black & Decker® Thermal Coffeemakers

Units: About 9,800

Distributor: Applica Consumer Products Inc., of Miramar, Fla.

Hazard: The coffeemakers can overheat and melt, posing a burn hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: The firm has received one report of a coffeemaker melting. No injuries reported.

Description: This recall involves Black & Decker 8-cup programmable thermal coffeemakers. Model number TCM1000IKT is printed on the rating plate on the bottom of the coffeemaker.

Sold at: Walmart and small retail stores nationwide from April 2008 through July 2009 for between $50 and $65.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the coffeemakers and contact Applica to receive a free replacement household product.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Applica at (866) 699-4595 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s Web site at www.acprecall.com

CPSC is still interested in receiving incident or injury reports that are either directly related to this product recall or involve a different hazard with the same product. Please tell them about it by visiting https://www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/incident.aspx

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Recall: Wii Battery Recharge Stations by Griffin International Due to Burn and Fire Hazards

Name of Product: Psyclone Essentials and React Wii™ 4-Dock Battery Recharge Stations

Units: About 220,000

Distributor: Griffin International Cos., Inc., of Minneapolis, Minn.

Hazard: The battery pack can overheat, posing a burn or fire hazard to the consumer.

Incidents/Injuries: Six incidents of overheating have been reported to the firm. Two consumers reported minor burns to the hand.

Description: The Wii 4-Dock Recharge Station includes a white docking station with four recharge stations and a four rechargeable battery pack. Brand names are on the front of the packaging and the model numbers, Psyclone (PSE6501) and React (RT530), can be found on the bottom side of the product.

Sold at: The Psyclone Essentials brand was sold at Target, Toys R Us and Amazon.com nationwide; React was sold at Best Buy stores nationwide. Both were sold from January 2008 through July 2009 for about $50.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using these recharge stations and contact Griffin International to obtain information on how to return the product and receive a free replacement.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Griffin International toll free at 888-344-4702 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT Monday-Friday, email productsafety@psyclonegamer.com or visit this Web site www.psyclonegamer.com/Wii4Dock

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Samsung’s Latest Includes New Induction Range – Lower Laundry Pricing

Samsung Electronics America will add induction technology to its cooking appliance line this fall.

Details are sketchy, but the company said the freestanding model will be produced entirely in-house.

“It’s gorgeous,” said James Politeski, sales and marketing VP for Samsung digital appliances. “The controls are intuitive, more accessible and very cool.”

Joining the induction unit will be Samsung’s first gas-fueled ranges. Two models are also set to ship this fall, along with a $600 speed oven that features microwave and electric heating.

In laundry, Samsung has added a step between its opening price point $999 front-load washer and its $1,499 front-load steam washer. The new, Energy Star-rated WF419 (suggested retail $1,199) also features steam cycles and Samsung’s vibration-reduction technology (VRT), plus 4.3 cubic feet of capacity and a diamond-patterned drum surface that’s gentler on fabrics.

Samsung also lowered its opening price point in front-load laundry to $699 in a Lowe’s-exclusive model that could join the open line next year depending on marketplace conditions. Senior marketing manager Jeffrey Armstrong said the company is hesitant to play in the promotional arena after establishing Samsung as a premium appliance brand — a strategy that has paid off with a 100 percent increase in first-quarter laundry sales.

In refrigeration, Samsung showed three French door models with dual ice makers, a feature it described as an industry first. The dual system includes an external filtered water and ice dispenser in the refrigerator and an additional ice maker in the freezer to provide twice the ice-making ability of standard units.

Cool Off With a Room Air Conditioner -and Save Money

The hot, humid weather of summer is about to meet Americans’ continuing desire to cut costs this cooling season. Room air conditioners are a practical way to cool down when temperatures heat up, especially if you want to save money by only cooling the rooms you use the most.

New room air conditioners are significantly more energy efficient and now offer a variety of features, including varying fan speeds, remote controls, timers and different types of filters. The average room air conditioner manufactured in 2008 also uses 23 percent less energy than units made in 1990. ENERGY STAR units can save you even more.

Before going to the store to purchase a new unit, consumers should visit www.cooloff.org to search through a list of models that are AHAM-certified. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers tests and certifies room air conditioners in an independent lab to verify that the product performs according to the manufacturers’ claims.

To get the maximum benefit from a room air conditioner, consider two important factors — cooling capacity and efficiency. Many people size air conditioners incorrectly, purchasing an air conditioner with more cooling capacity than needed.

More is not necessarily better. A unit with too much capacity may cool a room so quickly that it won’t run long enough to lower humidity. This results in a cold, clammy feeling caused by chilly, humid air. More importantly, you will be wasting energy and lots of money.

Cooloff.org also offers a cooling calculator for consumers to determine the proper cooling capacity for their room. The Web site will also take you through a series of questions before recommending models that fit your needs.

Once you know what size unit you need, consider its operating efficiency. The higher the energy efficiency ratio, or EER, the more efficient the model. When shopping, you’ll also want to look for the “AHAM-certified” seal. Models certified through AHAM’s program have been tested and their performance verified by an independent laboratory, assuring consumers that the product will perform according to the manufacturer’s product claims for BTU’s per hour, amps and efficiency.

Once you have the perfect air conditioner for your home size, you’ll want to keep it running smoothly. Here are some maintenance tips from the AHAM:

* Turn off the unit and open doors and windows during cooler periods.
* Use the unit fan and portable fans to draw in cooler outside air and increase circulation.
* Use a higher (warmer) thermostat setting during peak periods or when the area is unoccupied. A 75 to 80 degree setting will cut power consumption by 15 percent.
* Don’t let heat build up all day and then try to cool areas quickly by turning the controls to maximum settings.
* Draw the shade or window blinds to reduce solar and outdoor heat.
* Regularly change or clean filters and check air flow for blockage or frost on evaporator coil.

MicroFridge-Sized and Designed for the Dorm Room

MicroFridge, the industry leader in compact specialty appliances, today introduced the next generation in small space convenience. The new product line includes patent-pending Safe Plug® technology and also features a Dual Outlet Charge Station that enables people to safely and conveniently charge a range of popular electronic devices such as laptop computers, MP3 players, cell phones, digital cameras and more.

Combining a spacious refrigerator, freezer and microwave in a single unit, a MicroFridge appliance is perfect wherever space is limited and there’s a need for food and refreshments – including hotels, college residence halls, assisted living residences, military housing, offices and at home too. The compact MicroFridge refrigerator features over two cubic feet of storage space, while the separate freezer boasts a 0.75 cubic foot capacity. For food preparation, there is a fully programmable 700-watt microwave oven. The refrigerator’s Smart Store Door allows the upright storage of two-liter bottles or half-gallon containers to eliminate leaks and spills that can result when storing tall containers on their side. And the roomy zero-degree freezer ensures that items like ice cream stay perfectly frozen.

The microwave features three, distinct “Express Cook” settings, along with pre-programmed recipes for soup, beverages, pizza and popcorn; the beeper volume is adjustable and can also be set to mute.  The patent–pending Safe Plug power management system technology is another feature that makes MicroFridge truly unique, automatically shutting off the refrigerator and charging station when the microwave is on, limiting the maximum electrical draw of the unit to just 11 amps.
“This reduces utility expenses and is good for the environment,” said Jim Russo, Vice President Product Sales of Intirion Corporation – the makers of MicroFridge. “Traditional refrigerators and microwaves can pull nearly twice that amount, potentially overloading electrical systems and creating costly problems.”
MicroFridge’s Safe Plug technology also enables users to operate both the refrigerator and microwave utilizing only one electrical socket. The blue plug on the refrigerator unit plugs into the back of the microwave with only the microwave plug required to power the unit. This oneplug-to-the-wall operation saves valuable outlet space as well.
The new Dual Outlet Charge Station makes MicroFridge the only company to offer this design and technology, providing exceptional convenience to safely charge personal electronics.  Located in the front of the microwave, busy consumers can power up their laptops, MP3 players, cell phones, digital cameras, or any device that draws four amps of power or less. This eliminates the need to reach into inaccessible places to plug and unplug devices that require charging. And the integrated Cord Clip prevents cables from getting tangled or caught in the doors of the fridge or freezer while the Dual Outlet Charge Station is in use.

MicroFridge is ENERGY STAR rated and has achieved the highest rating for energy efficiency: CEE Tier 3 status. In addition, the Safe Plug technology further enhances the products’ energysaving benefit by temporarily shutting off the refrigerator when the microwave is in use.

Price and Availability
The MicroFridge combination appliance is used by college students across the U.S., and is also found in hotel and motel rooms, assisted living residences and on U.S. military bases. Models are available in classic black, white and stainless steel. The MicroFridge 2.9MF-7TP model combination appliance retails for $425.00 and is available for purchase, along with other models, direct from the manufacturer online at www.microfridge.com.

How Whirlpool Gets It’s Newest Products

Ever wonder how that new Whirlpool, Kitchen Aid or Maytag appliance with all the newest technology came to the marketplace?  Well, Whirlpool, the parent company has formalized a process to sort through the thousands of ideas that, at any one time, are percolating up from product groups, new business development teams, and i-mentors — employees trained in innovation who have been deployed throughout the organization to identify promising ideas. From that first grab-bag of concepts, managers green-light several hundred for study, giving each a slice of an innovation budget that  ballparks at several million dollars for North America this year.

Ultimately, almost half of those flow into its innovation pipeline, which currently numbers close to 1,000 products. On average, 100 are introduced to the marketplace. “Every month we report pipeline size measured by estimated sales, and our goal this year is $4 billion,” says Norena. With Whirlpool’s 2008 revenue totalling $18.9 billion, that would mean roughly 20% of sales would be from new products.

Beginning Affresh

The process has helped Whirlpool find such innovations as Affresh, a hockey puck-shaped tablet that consumers can toss into front-loading washers for a cleaning cycle. In less than two years, Affresh, which works with any brand of appliance, has grown into a line of four products that Whirlpool expects to be an $80 million to 100 million business by 2015. Taking Affresh as a guide, here’s a look at how the Benton Harbor [Mich.] appliance maker evaluates new ideas.

Affresh came out of regular consumer research a few years ago: Water and chemical residues caught in the seal of the door of front-load washing machines, customers told Whirlpool researchers, were causing odor problems. [Not all of Whirlpool’s concepts emerge from customer research; Garage Gladiator — a line of storage containers and appliances for garages and workshops — was conceived in a sales and marketing brainstorm about how Whirlpool might develop products for rooms beyond the kitchen and laundry room.]

For an idea to be considered for development, it has to meet Whirlpool’s three-pronged definition of innovation: It must meet a consumer need in a fresh way; it must have the breadth to become a platform for related products; and it must lift earnings. [Add-on innovations are expected to deliver results within months, while new-to-the-world ones are given three to five years.]

Charles Martin, director of strategy and marketing for new business development, who led the Affresh development, already knew there was a consumer need. Four to six weeks of research and concept development convinced him he could clear the second hurdle too, by expanding into kitchen appliances too. And Whirlpool had good reason to expect profits. Sales of front-loaders are on the rise — 1.91 million will be sold this year, according to IBIS World — and the machines are expected to eclipse top-loaders in three to five years.

Clearing the Hurdles

Research findings are written up in a document Whirlpool calls an “opportunity brief.” The brief is reviewed by a 15-member panel of innovation experts and regional managers from across the organization, including marketing, sales, customer service, and engineering. This i-board meets monthly to review potential projects, and allocate funding. Martin’s team was granted several thousand dollars to continue development of the Affresh idea.

Roughly 40% of ideas that make it to this stage end up in the innovation pipeline. Those that don’t get tripped up by the next hurdle: the i-box, a three-page scorecard that forces innovation teams to be very concrete about expected factors such as revenues, technical feasibility, relevance to the brand, and market trends. “The i-box needs to make the case that there is a consumer need, that the concept meets it, that it does it better than existing products, and so on,” says Norena.

The i-panel then reviews the i-box, with each member scoring how well the concept meets each criterion on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the strongest. The averaged scores determine whether a concept will be funded [at which point it officially enters the pipeline] or shelved. “Everything checked off,” says Martin of the Affresh i-box.

Whirlpool currently has some 1,500 projects shelved for a variety of reasons. An idea to create an “on the move” appliance for campers, for instance, was held because it strayed too far outside of Whirlpool’s home-focused comfort zone.

Thumbs-Down on a Steam Dryer

Ideas can also be held simply because of overall resources and priorities. Every year, Whirlpool sets a goal for innovation-related revenue for each product team. “We might say we want 80% of new revenues to come from innovations to core products, 15% from innovations that leverage or expand the core, and 5% from totally new innovations,” says Norena.

A concept for a dryer with a steam function, proposed in 2004, ended on up the shelf because it didn’t match up with that year’s priorities. Three years later, when the fabric care team began working on a relaunch of Whirlpool’s Duet line, the innovation manager for the laundry team reviewed the shelved concepts for features to include in the new machines. Duet dryers came to market in 2008 with the steam function. [Concepts can also be resurrected by the i-board, which reviews all active innovation projects and shelved ideas during an annual pipeline cleanup.]

Once Affresh and other new concepts officially enter the innovation pipeline, they go through Whirlpool’s standard stage-gate process. Affresh’s development differed only in that it was developed in partnership with an outside partner, a chemical company that Whirlpool won’t identify, one of Whirlpool’s first open innovation projects.

The first Affresh product — a three-pack of tablets for cleaning front-load washers — showed up in appliance stores in September 2007 at a suggested retail price of $6.99. Whirlpool won’t reveal specific numbers, but says that first-year sales exceeded Martin’s estimates by 200% and were robust enough for the company to expand distribution to national grocery chains such as Kroger Markets. Building on that, Whirlpool developed a more efficient product for service technicians and, coming next month, an Affresh-branded dishwasher and disposal cleaner.