Whirlpool Corporation is a leading global home appliance company, with approximately USD 21 billion in annual sales, 92,000 employees and 65 manufacturing and technology research centers as of 2018. The company markets Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Maytag, Consul, Brastemp, Amana, Bauknecht, JennAir, Indesit and other major brand names in nearly every country around the world.
The Challenge: Improved product quality
As the Whirlpool website says: “Our people work every day to earn the trust of our consumers and create demand for our products.” Continuous product improvement and quality therefore is an ongoing priority. To step up the improvement process, the company’s engineers determined that collecting and analyzing data from various appliances would give them insights into how customers are using the products and how those products are working. Products and their brand portfolios are geared toward the global regions and consumers Whirlpool serves.
Finding an IoT solution for business intelligence and data analytics of this scope was only one challenge. Adding to the task was finding a cloud platform that could support Whirlpool’s global technology and consumer design centers, the new IoT solution, and especially the IBM development tools these centers rely on.
The Solution: IBM® Watson IoT, plus IBM Engineering Lifecycle Management (ELM) managed by ClearObject
IBM Watson IoT gave Whirlpool the solution it needed to securely connect and collect sensor data from appliances to gauge usage, performance, and areas of needed improvement. To support the Watson IoT platform and IBM development tools globally across the company’s technology and consumer design centers, Whirlpool is using cloud-based IBM ELM services managed by ClearObject. The IBM ELM services are provided via ClearObject’s Engineering Cloud managed services, which are structured for organizations using IBM’s tools for product engineering and development.
The IBM Watson IoT Platform allows Whirlpool engineers to securely connect and collect sensor data from appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, ovens and other appliance products. Gathered data then helps engineering teams learn how customers are using their machines, how the machines themselves are working, and how they can be constantly improved. Whirlpool’s improved engineering and development environment provides the foundation for these analytics efforts and their positive outcomes.
Reduced defects per release from eight defects to one
Improved on-time delivery by 30%, from 60% to 90%
Platform integration and collaboration across disciplines, time zones, and supply chains
Tighter control over complexity and risk throughout the product lifecycle
Improved test planning and test asset management
Improved workflow management and accelerated development outcomes
Continuous monitoring of the Whirlpool engineering and development environment, specific to the tools they use
Monitoring of the environment and OS for security patching
Updates in less time, which minimizes outage time
ClearObject’s relationship with IBM Support; IBM Support teams have direct access to server logs to make fixes much faster
Cloud flexibility for a real data environment to create temporary environments, validate an existing environment, and more
Scalability via the cloud and Google data centers worldwide
The increase in product quality for Whirlpool appliances
The reduction in home appliance downtime (over three years)
For the future, the IBM Watson IoT solution and IBM ELM services managed by ClearObject will enable Whirlpool to effectively manage continuous product improvement initiatives worldwide, including scaling to new technology and consumer design centers as needed.