The success of the Whirlpool company S.A. Eletrodomésticos in Brazil is no technicality.
The firm makes refrigerators, washers, dryers and dishwashers, as well as other household appliances such as microwaves, stoves, air purifiers and air conditioners for Latin America and other markets. Products are sold under the Consul, Brastemp, and Whirlpool names.
Whirlpool has four factories in Brazil, and its domestic refrigerator production facility in Joinville is one of the biggest in the world. So it goes without saying that Multibrás is also an important customer for AGRAMKOW. We've been supplying charging equipment to Multibrás since 1991. Today, all charging, test and production line information systems are delivered by us.
By combining their efforts with AGRAMKOW-powered technologies for leak detection, evacuation and refrigerant charging, electrical safety and performance testing and PLIS (our integrated production line information system), Whirlpool is able to continuously improve their production and quality processes.
Management at Whirlpool understood early on that data integration and sharing information across their enterprise was essential to business excellence. To begin with, information integration offered an opportunity to optimize manufacturing processes, real-time decision making and resource utilazation. Whirlpool is thriving. And their value is increasing. The math is simple, but consider the forward looking thinking behind it.
Market dynamics are requiring integration more than ever. Compressed business cycles require speed and quality. Complexity of business decisions requires intelligence. Product commoditization means quality has to be outstanding because customers have high expectations for quality at a competitive price. Profitability is a key to success, but growth will depend on excelling in all areas.
Reaching that goal requires performance at every level. Data integration means increased effectiveness and faster execution. We're really talking about smarter people, making smarter decisions, taking smarter actions thanks to smarter production line information system capabilities. A capability that merges and integrates operational and decisional data into the hands of decision-makers for managing production in real time.
AGRAMKOW delivered the first PLIS system in 1991. To make PLIS work, it is really a value chain that starts right down on the shop floor, with all AGRAMKOW equipment fully integrated into the system. But where the system really pays off is by giving operations management the big picture of their production lines.
That's where business intelligence and smarter decision-making comes into play—on the AGRAMKOW PLIS platform. “PLIS is basically the foundation—the software modules—we use to optimize the quality-based performance of our production lines,” says Paulo Scheibe, IT business analyst at Multibrás.
“It has been so successful that Whirlpool requires that data is collected from all production processes by PLIS. If there are any problems with PLIS, we stop production. Data collection just has that high of a priority for us.”
The benefits of PLIS are many and underscore Multibrás' total commitment to quality and continuous improvement. PLIS has helped the company significantly reduce failure rates—and improve quality standards as a result.
One explanation for the improvement is the system's comprehensive traceability capabilities. Results from every process and test performed are stored in the system's data base, so problems can always be traced back to their original source and corrected.
In addition, all components and their serial numbers are always checked and stored together with the serial number of the final product. This means that if a customer ever comes back with a quality problem, Whirlpool can quickly find the serial numbers of the faulty components and identify any potential batch problems.
As a result, Whirlpool has been able to manage and control quality problems much earlier—and lower their guarantee costs at the same time. Moreover, they have been able to document the quality of their products, and thus greatly reduce costs at repair shops.
Whirlpool uses PLIS to monitor and control ongoing process performance. Operators on the shop floor input data from visual inspections. All problems or errors are registered into the database using a practical barcode scanner. PLIS also supports manual inspection points by enabling operators to input a pass or fail code.
Whirlpool also uses the PLIS automatic reject point control feature. It ensures that no product can pass a reject line if the previous processes or tests are not passed and prevents faulty products from continuing on the production line. Since pass/fail values can be adjusted, Multibrás can set the reject point device it deems optimal for improving productivity while meeting quality goals.
The data collected in the PLIS database is used by Whirlpool to identify trends and opportunities for making real value-adding improvements. AGRAMKOW's equipment and production line system allows the company to perform operations with exacting precision without slowing down the pace on the production line.
AGRAMKOW has been involved with Whirlpool' production line system from the start. The relationship between Whirlpool and AGRAMKOW has grown into a strategic partnership that has proven beneficial to both companies. AGRAMKOW understands Whirlpool' production processes and is able to keep up with their changing needs; Whirlpool benefits from solutions that add value and lower costs for their production. And PLIS, as well as other AGRAMKOW products continue to evolve, in no small part thanks to input from customers like Whirlpool.