This week, GE Appliances, a Haier company announced the start-up of a new $80 million dishwasher manufacturing line in its Louisville Kentucky manufacturing complex and the market timing was to state the obvious, very opportune.
This new manufacturing line is reported to be adding an additional 280 new jobs for the facility. Upwards of 7,100 employees now work in the GE Appliance Louisville complex.
One of the more surprising aspects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been more global workers having to work from home, and with that situation, there has been a noticeable spike in demand for certain household appliances including residential freezers, refrigerators, laundry appliances and indeed, dishwashers.
The result has been a global wide shortage of specific appliances with supply networks scrambling to build and ship units from various global manufacturing sites to regional and domestic markets.
This is a further background to this latest development.
In June of 2019, Supply Chain Matters profiled this company’s $55 million investment in an termed “smart warehouse” Area Distribution Center designed and built to enhance Omni-channel direct customer fulfillment. The design principle to provide an outside-in focused Digital Thread to all finished goods material movement for the entire journey to the customer. That investment was part of the company’s $150 million investment to expand its distribution networks in the U.S.
A report published by The Wall Street Journal in late November indicated as its opening: “GE Appliances was in the midst of a digital supply-chain-upgrade when the coronavirus pandemic hit, disrupting global supply lines while consumer demand soared for the company’s refrigerators and washing machines.”
The report goes on to indicate that in March of this year, rather than pause the digital upgrade effort, the effort took on an accelerated urgency amid increased orders and dwindling inventories. The manufacturer needed to quickly pivot from a make to forecast to a make to market demand and supply allocation planning model.
GE Appliances, now part of Haier Group, indicates this new dishwasher line represents an entirely redesigned extra-capacity platform, and a manufacturing process designed with advanced automation and improved ergonomics to enhance the manufacturing environment. According to the press announcement, the result has been improved manufacturability and a high-quality product designed with consumers as well as assembly workers in-mind.
Time-to-market is always an important consideration in manufacturing and supply chain strategy and of late, a regional or domestic manufacturing presence helps in designing appliance products to meet specific consumer needs. Superior product design added quality and the avoidance of inbound tariffs adds a further differentiation.
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