December 22, 2014

Whirlpool’s Newest Washers and Dryers

Whirlpool has unveiled their newest laundry pairs, including an updated Duet platform and a new Maxima front-load line for Maytag.

Duet, which helped usher in the front-load washer category within the U.S. nearly a decade ago, has been retooled for even great energy and water efficiency in advance of anticipated higher federal standards.

Designed in conjunction with the Institute of Fabric Science, the revamped washer now uses as little as 11.5 gallons of water per load and exceeds current federal energy standards by more than 160 percent on average, Whirlpool said. The greater efficiency is achieved with an EcoBoost option that reduces water temperature while increasing agitation duration, resulting in the same cleaning effectiveness as previous iterations while using less water and energy.

Whirlpool estimates that the laundry pair can save consumers 12,857 gallons of water a year and as much as $3,300 in lifetime energy costs.

According to Twice.com, Whirlpool is targeting national retail chains for the launch, which is expected to begin in time for the holiday selling season. Suggest retail prices will start at $1,100 for both the washer and dryer.

Meanwhile, Whirlpool’s Maytag brand will roll out an entirely new front-load laundry platform in the Maxima, which offers increased capacity and a power-wash cycle that promises extra cleaning action by loosening stains and ground-in dirt.

The power-wash cycle is complimented by an internal water heater that boosts water temperatures to release difficult stains, and is followed by a thorough rinse to flush out any remaining detergent or lingering soils, Whirlpool said. Together, the functions can remove tough stains that weren’t pre-treated.

The 5-cubic-foot washer, available in two models, also has a 10-year limited parts warranty on the motor and stainless-steel wash basket.

Its companion 7.4-cubic-foot capacity dryer features “Quad” baffles and advanced moisture sensors for consistent load drying, while steam cycles help remove odors and wrinkles.

The Maxima series will carry an opening price point of $1,000 and is slated to ship this fall to retailers nationwide.

Recall:Maytag Dishwashers Due to Fire Hazard

Name of Product: Dishwashers

Units: About 1.7 million in the United States

Manufacturer: Maytag Corp. of Newton, Iowa or Maytag Corp. of Benton Harbor, Mich.

Hazard: An electrical failure in the dishwasher’s heating element can pose a serious fire hazard.

Incidents/Injuries: Maytag has received 12 reports of dishwasher heating element failures that resulted in fires and dishwasher damage, including one report of extensive kitchen damage from a fire. No injuries have been reported.

Description: The recall includes Maytag®, Amana®, Jenn-Air®, Admiral®, Magic Chef®, Performa by Maytag® and Crosley® brand dishwashers with plastic tubs and certain serial numbers. The affected dishwashers were manufactured with black, bisque, white, silver and stainless steel front panels. The brand name is printed on the front of the dishwasher. The model and serial numbers are printed on a label located inside the plastic tub on a tag near the left side of the door opening. Serial numbers will start or end with one of the following sequences.

SERIAL number STARTING with OR SERIAL number ENDING with
NW39, NW40, NW41, NW42, NW43, NW44, NW45, NW46, NW47, NW48, NW49, NW50, NW51, NW52, NY01, NY02, NY03, NY04, NY05, NY06, NY07, NY08, NY09, NY10, NY11, NY12, NY13, NY14, NY15, NY16, NY17, NY18, NY19   JC, JE, JG, JJ, JL, JN, JP, JR, JT, JV, JX, LA, LC, LE, LG, LJ, LL, LN, LP, LR, LT, LV, LX, NA, NC, NE, NG, NJ, NL, NN, NP, NR

Sold at: Department and appliance stores and by homebuilders nationwide from February 2006 through April 2010 for between $250 and $900.

Manufactured in: United States

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled dishwashers, disconnect the electric supply by shutting off the fuse or circuit breaker controlling it, inform all users of the dishwasher about the risk of fire and contact Maytag to verify if their dishwasher is included in the recall. If the dishwasher is included in the recall, consumers can either schedule a free in-home repair or receive a rebate following the purchase of certain new Maytag brand stainless-steel tub dishwashers. The rebate is $150 if the consumer purchases new dishwasher models MDB7759, MDB7609 or MDBH979; or $250 if the consumer purchases new dishwasher models MDB8959, MDB8859, MDB7809 or MDB7709. Consumers should not return the recalled dishwashers to the retailer where purchased as retailers are not prepared to take the units back.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Maytag at (800) 544-5513 anytime, or visit the firm’s website at www.repair.maytag.com

Black Friday Appliance Sales Results

Major appliances have never been a traditional holiday gift category, and as such have always taken a back seat to electronics, apparel and home fashions in the pantheon of Black Friday promotions.

All that began to change last year when Sears offered an Electrolux front-load laundry pair for $600 the morning after Thanksgiving. This year, following one of the most challenging periods in recent white-goods memory, appliance offers came fast and furious on Black Friday, rivaling consumer electronics doorbusters in sales.

Apparently the ploy was effective: According to comparison shopping service PriceGrabber.com, sales of laundry pairs, one of the most heavily discounted categories of the holiday weekend, rose 70 percent on Black Friday compared with 2008.

One of the biggest major appliance blowouts was mounted by The Home Depot, which offered deep discounts on LG and Whirlpool’s Amana- and Maytag-branded products. Holiday specials included the high-efficiency Maytag Bravos 4.7-cubic-foot top-load washer and companion dryer for $499 each, down from $799 and $699, respectively, and a 19.7-cubic-foot LG French-door refrigerator, in white, for $798, down from $1,199.

Whirlpool was also front-and-center at Lowe’s on Black Friday, where $998 bought a 4-cubic-foot Duet front-load or Cabrio high-efficiency 4.7-cubic-foot top-load laundry pair, and $898 fetched a 25-cubic-foot French-door fridge in black or white (regularly $1,298).

New York metro area appliance titan P.C. Richard & Son was equally aggressive, offering $1,000 Samsung and Whirlpool front-load laundry pairs, both with 4-cubic-foot washers, and a 3.1-cubic-foot front-load Frigidaire washer and companion dryer for just $500.

But the day still belonged to Sears, which leveraged its private-label Kenmore brand to follow up last year’s Black Friday offering with a 3.5-cubic-foot front-load laundry pair for $580, a 23-cubic-foot French door fridge for $750, and a 4.7-cubic-foot high-efficiency Kenmore Elite Oasis laundry pair for $850. All were advertised as 50 percent or more off from Sears’ regular prices, but shoppers were warned that inventory was limited to only about two SKUs per model per store.
You can read this whole story at Twice.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.

Recall: Maytag Refrigerators Due to Fire Hazard

Name of product: Maytag®, Jenn-Air®, Amana®, Admiral®, Magic Chef®, Performa by Maytag® and Crosley® brand refrigerators

Units: About 1.6 million

Manufacturer: Maytag Corp., of Newton, Iowa

Hazard: An electrical failure in the relay, the component that turns on the refrigerator’s compressor, can cause overheating and pose a serious fire hazard.

Incidents/Injuries: Maytag has received 41 reports of refrigerator relay ignition, including 16 reports of property damage ranging from smoke damage to extensive kitchen damage.

Description: The recall includes certain Maytag®, Jenn-Air®, Amana®, Admiral®, Magic Chef®, Performa by Maytag® and Crosley® brand side by side and top freezer refrigerators. The affected refrigerators were manufactured in black, bisque, white and stainless steel. They have model and serial numbers printed on a label located on the top middle or left upper side of the refrigerator liner and have the following model and serial number combinations:

  Serial Numbers ENDING with AND Model Numbers BEGINNING with
Side by Side
Refrigerators
AA, AC, AE, AG, AJ, AL, AN, AP, AR,
AT, AV, AX, CA, CC, CE, CG, CJ, CL,
ZB, ZD, ZF, ZH, ZK, ZM, ZQ, ZS, ZU,
ZW, ZY, ZZ
ARS, CS, JC, JS, MS, MZ, PS
Top Freezer
Refrigerators
AA, AC, AE, AG, AJ, AL, AN, AP, AR,
AT, AV, AX, ZK, ZM, ZQ, ZS, ZU, ZW,
ZY, ZZ
AT, CT, MT, PT

Refrigerators with freezers on the bottom are not included in this recall.

Sold at: Department and appliance stores and by homebuilders nationwide from January 2001 through January 2004 for between about $350 and $1600.

Manufactured in: United States

Remedy: Consumers should immediately contact Maytag to determine if their refrigerator is included in the recall and to schedule a free in-home repair. Consumers should not return the refrigerator to the retailer where it was purchased.

Consumer Contact: For more information, contact Maytag toll-free at (866) 533-9817 anytime, or visit the firm’s Web site at www.repair.maytag.com

 representative models pictured ( Other models are affected.)  

Maytag’s “Commercial Grade” Washers and Dryers

Whirlpool, the owner of Maytag is emphasizing the “commercial-grade elements and technology” found in its residential laundry products as it promotes its Performance, Bravos, Centennial and Epic Z series of washers and dryers.

Models in these lines are said to feature a variety of features typically found in commercial-grade laundry products, such as commercial-grade stainless-steel wash baskets, five-rib dryer belts for longer life and quieter operation, and solid-steel base frames and hung suspension systems intended to reduce vibration.

Maytag’s Performance series washers offer a wash-basket capacity of 4.4 cubic feet; the Bravos washer is said to offer the brand’s largest wash-basket capacity of 4.7 cubic feet.

Both platforms feature load sensors that can adjust the water level and temperature, steam technology, a “GentleBreeze” system that dries clothes in the same amount of time it takes to wash them, and an “IntelliDry” feature that senses when clothes are dry to reduce the risk of over-drying and shrinking.

The Epic Z’s standout feature is its space-saving design that allows it to be stacked in tighter spaces. The washer measures just 36 inches high by 27 inches wide and 30.5 inches deep while still providing 3.7 cubic feet of wash-basket space.

Maytag’s New SteamClean Dishwasher

Maytag has released a new tall tub dishwasher with a steam cleaning option to help loosen dirt and clean glassware to a shine. The tall tub has an oversize capacity and nylon coated racks to protect fragile stemware. A stainless steel interior helps hold heat so dishes dry faster. Options include sanitizing, delay settings and high temperature. It also has the jet clean II power module and is Energy Star qualified. It retails for around $600.