Operations at Whirlpool

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Case Details:

Case Code : OPER034
Case Length : 15 Pages
Period : 1990 - 2004
Organization : Whirpool Corporation
Pub Date : 2004
Teaching Note : Available
Countries : USA
Industry : Consumer Appliances

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Operations at Whirlpool

Whirlpool's operations were based on Six-Sigma, and lean manufacturing skills and capabilities. The company used information technology tools to cut down on the cost of doing business. Its unique global platform helped it transfer its key innovations and processes across regions and brands.

Globalization of Key Functions

During the mid-1990s, Whirlpool carried out a massive restructuring and reorganizing exercise to create a more responsive environment to work in. In this process, it globalized some of its key functions including procurement and product development.

Whirlpool's procurement was one of the first functions to go global. As the company was spread across the globe, suppliers found it a very attractive customer. Whirlpool's Global Procurement department entered into deals with suppliers around the world and ensured that it used only high-quality, low-cost materials and components while manufacturing its home appliances.

Operations Management Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Marketing Management, Case Studies

By selecting and partnering with the best suppliers globally, it tried to deliver the best value to its customers. Further, a partnership with Whirlpool benefited the suppliers as it gave them an opportunity to sell globally...


By 2003, after more than a decade in logistics planning, Whirlpool's supply chain was 50-60 percent complete. Although the company ensured that it consistently improved its quality levels and reduced its cycle time and costs, there was still a lot of scope for improvement. Selling its products on a global platform was a very difficult and challenging task. Its warehouses had to get faster, its transportation carriers had to reduce transit time, factories had to change schedules faster and run with smaller lot sizes so that they could produce several SKUs every day. And for this, it realized that its entire supply chain had to be made more flexible...


Exhibit I: Major Home Appliance Companies (In 2002)
Exhibit II: Appliance Industry in the US
Exhibit III: Whirlpool's Brands
Exhibit IV: Whirlpool Corporation in 2002
Exhibit V: Push Based Manufacturing

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