| December 2009
APPLIANCE Engineer - The Open Door - Taking Up the Sustainability Challenge
It’s no surprise to anyone that environmental issues are becoming ever
more prominent and important to understand in the world of appliance
development and manufacture.
APPLIANCE Engineer - The Open Door - Organizational Empathy, from Top to Bottom
APPLIANCE Engineer - The Open Door - The Next Breakthrough in Microwaves?
Ingenuity is a crazy thing. Sometimes
it leads to innovative products that look good on paper and make
engineers giddy, but more often than not, these products get lost on
consumers and end up in the niche wasteland. Take the Polara
refrigerated oven, which Whirlpool debuted way back in 2002, as an
example. The concept—developing an oven that keeps food cool until a
preset timer tells it to start cooking—is beyond innovative, but
consumers were obviously not ready for it. Or, at $1800, just couldn’t
Appliance Engineer - The Open Door - Innovate…or Die by Not Trying
It’s critical to guard innovation as the engine of recovery once the recession ends.
Appliance Engineer - The Open Door - Industrial Design Meets Engineering
Industrial designers and engineers have two very different functions,
but both understand the vital role that each plays in the product
The Open Door - Are Regulations Pushing Us Over the Edge?
Aside from the economy, regulation has become the most powerful force affecting the appliance industry.
Appliance Engineer - The Open Door - Making Green Affordable
The HVAC and water heating industry has made great strides in designing
energy-efficient products. As more sophisticated control and sensor
technologies become available, so will affordable green products.
The Open Door - Energy Efficiency: Our Next and Best Step Forward
As current economic woes shed light on America’s propensity for overconsumption, we are seeing a parallel situation in the nation’s energy supply.
Appliance Engineer - Leveling the Playing Field
The Open Door - Surviving the Standards Jungle
The Open Door - The Real Cost of Green Manufacturing
The Open Door - The Human Side of Six Sigma
The Open Door - U.S. Must Prepare for Day of Reckoning
Are predatory trade policies putting American manufacturing at risk? One executive thinks so.
The Open Door - Balancing Simplicity and Performance
The Open Door - What Makes Good Design?
The Open Door - The Bigger Laundry Picture
The Open Door - The Mess Between Emotion and Function
The Open Door - The Technology behind Standby Power
The Open Door - Back to School?
The Open Door - Mega-Regulations–Again
The Open Door - Do Smart Environments Need Smarter Design?
The Open Door - A Closer Look at Standby Power
The Open Door - How Secure Is Your Job?
The Open Door - The Need for a Strong U.S. Manufacturing Base
The Open Door - The Objective Is a Safe Product
The Open Door - Less Can Mean More
The Open Door - Global Regulations and YOUR Trade Associations
The Open Door - Get Paid for R&D
The Open Door - Regulated Vending in the EU
The Open Door - Eliminate Waste and Enhance Value
Although lean thinking is typically applied to manufacturing, lean techniques are applicable anywhere there are processes to improve. A lean company is one that produces just what is needed, when it is needed and where it is needed.
The Open Door - Getting the Most from Your Motor Dollar
U.S. appliance manufacturers are focused more than ever on market
share, production volume and profits. To that end, working engineers
have to focus their efforts on designing appliance systems that add and
improve functions and features that meet customer needs and command
higher prices and profits.
The Open Door - A Matter of Ethics
The Open Door - Ingredients for Innovation
Innovation does not need to be a random, elusive event that only happens now and again when creative sparks fly.
The Open Door - Design Strategies for Emerging Markets
Design for emerging markets represent billions of potential new
customers. However, many companies are failing to deliver success in
these markets due to their use of traditional design strategies.
The Open Door - Some Thoughts on the Future
The Open Door - Washing Performance—Addressing All the Factors
The Open Door - Researching Beyond Refrigerants
The Open Door - Teaching Youth About Engineering
The Open Door - Testing: Emotional or Scientific?
The Open Door - Outsourcing Product Design
It’s no secret that manufacturers—both big and small—are looking at all options to increase cost efficiency. And as the industry becomes increasingly global, outsourcing is now hitting all aspects of an appliance company’s operations, including design and engineering.
The Open Door - The Need for Prototyping Insight
The Open Door - Automating Online Quoting
The conventional wisdom of product development is: “fast, cheap, good—choose any two.” But with the growth of global competition, markets are punishing manufacturers for falling short on any of the three.
The Open Door - Embracing Concurrent Engineering
In the early 1980s, the Honda Acura and GM's Saturn were conceived.
The Open Door - Nanotech in the Refrigerator?
Nanotechnology is an emerging discipline that uses a new set of tools such as atomic force microscopes and nanoimprint lithography to engineer materials and devices with features that are less than 100 nm in size.
The Open Door - A Sustainable Future
Sustainability is currently a "hot topic," having a very broad scope in its definition.
The Open Door - Engineering - The Next Level of Lean
Not too many years ago lean manufacturing was considered something only suitable for automotive manufacturers and their suppliers.
The Open Door - Building a Supportive Home
You may recall that in September 2003, we published an article as part of our regular series in APPLIANCE magazine entitled Bringing Health Care Home.
The Open Door - Ecodesign of Energy Using Products
Appliance Engineer: The Open Door - The Global Impact of Regional Legislation
The Open Door - Design for Recycling
Design engineers have a tough job—balancing safety, energy efficiency, and cost with the consumer’s passion for the latest and greatest technology.
The Open Door - Engineering - Design Vs. Business: Finding a Common Language
Lately, everyone is talking about design. In boardrooms, in the business media, and in MBA classrooms, design is suddenly front and center as crucial to traditional business models, essential in company growth, and priceless to propel a business—small or large—into the future. Yet, for all the talk, there is one glaring problem.
The Open Door - What's Next for the Medical Device User Fee and Modernization Act?
When Congress passed the Medical Device User Fee and Modernization Act (MDUFMA) in the fall of 2002, the goal of the user fee program was to provide the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with the resources it needed to review the safety and effectiveness of new medical devices in a timely manner. More than 2 years have passed since the inception of MDUFMA, and now many in the medical technology industry are evaluating whether the program is working as originally intended.
The Open Door - Impact of RoHS on Materials and Parts Availability
Recent regulations such as the European Union Directive 2002/95/EC on the Restriction of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS) have increased the limitations on material use.
The Open Door - A Healthy Opportunity
Changing demographics, the health care crisis, a renewed focus on wellness, the U.S. “Boomer” generation retiring in unprecedented numbers all mean that the home as we know it will be very different in the not too distant future.
The Open Door - Understanding the Brazilian Market
Appliance designers must address unique consumer habits that stem from the socio-demographic differences between Latin American countries - while appealing to other key Latin values and cultural traits that are very similar.
The Open Door - Designing for the Heart and Mind
A widely accepted theory in new product development is the “consumer-centric” approach—designing products that meet people’s needs and fill their desires. Unfortunately, logical theories don’t always translate well into actual practice.
The Open Door - Implementing Toyota’s Product Development System
Most people involved in manufacturing today are well versed in the Toyota Production System—the basis of lean production.
The Open Door - The Three-Day Washer
While the fast-paced appliance industry is ever-evolving, some long-extinct “old truths” continue to go unchallenged. And some processes—such as the division-of-church-and-state between design and manufacturing and sales—remain road blocks to success.
From The Top - Good Humidity Could Mean Good Business
While the value of interior humidity control has long been understood, it has recently been attracting more attention than ever.
The Open Door - The Impact of Global Standards
One would be hard-pressed today to find an industrial sector that is not influenced in some way by activities in other parts of the world. Because standards have a role in nearly every conceivable industry, from appliances to homeland security, the global impact of a standard is carefully considered during its development and implementation.
From The Top - Carbon Dioxide Refrigerant Makes a Comeback
Before you assume this is another boring article on new refrigerants, what if I told you that air, water, and other everyday compounds can run your air-conditioner or refrigerator quite well? That’s a thermodynamic fact, and one of those everyday chemicals is so common that it constitutes what we all exhale—carbon dioxide (CO2).
The Open Door - Going Natural with Refrigeration Energy
The title of a song—“Everything Old is New Again”—seems to fit the current state of the refrigeration and refrigeration research segment of the appliance industry.
From the Top - Preparing for Liquefied Natural Gas
Energy issues are nothing new to the U.S. appliance industry. It has watched as oil and gas prices have soared and efficiency standards have been mandated, and it has wondered if alternative sources energy such as solar power would ever make it. But one alternative energy source to which you may not have given much thought is liquefied natural gas (LNG).
The Open Door - Expanding Appliance Possibilities
Since their inception nearly 50 years ago, electric fireplaces have relied mainly on low-tech devices such as crinkled foil, silk ribbons, and fans to mimic a flickering flame effect. However, a new development in the entertainment industry—the Digital Video Disk (DVD) player—has greatly improved the realism of electric fireplace design.
From the Top - Antimicrobial Surfaces for Appliances
You may have grown up listening to your mother’s insistent warnings about germs. “Don’t touch that; you don’t know where it’s been” and “wash your hands before you eat” are admonishments that most of us know well. Your mother probably wasn’t a microbiologist, but she was still on to something.
The Open Door - Design Considerations of Home Automation
What lies behind the front door of homes is changing dramatically and quickly. The much-talked about digital home of tomorrow is increasingly becoming the digital home of today. A number of technologies, including broadband and wireless access and distribution, are finding wholesome hospitality as consumers progressively go digital in pursuit of enhancing their lives and making their days more manageable.
From The Top - The Power of Micro-CHP
There's a new buzzword floating around the industry - Micro-CHP.
APPLIANCE Engineer® - The Open Door - Ten Lessons for Controlling Product-Development Costs
Any engineer who has completed a product-development program during his or her career understands the difficulty of meeting cost estimates.
From The Top - The Road to Innovation
If you traveled the U.S. interstates this past summer, you may have noticed, as I did, that there seems to be an ever-increasing number of recreational vehicles (RVs) on the road.
The Open Door - A Wireless Standard Built for Entertainment
Over the next few years, consumers will become familiar with a new way to wirelessly connect home theater equipment, digital camcorders, and portable devices. It is called WiMedia(TM), and many international leaders in the semiconductor and consumer electronics industries support it.
From the Top - Diets: They Are a Changin'
The U.S. faces a potential public health crisis more formidable than anything it has experienced in the past. Today, as many as 65 percent of Americans are overweight or obese.
The Open Door - The Creative Economy
We hear that we are in a period of business transformation. It's turbulent and perhaps out of our control. If we look out on the horizon and ask ourselves about alternative scenarios for the future, we can identify key movements that will affect us and for which we can initiate strategies.
From the Top - Bringing Health Care Home
When most of us think of retirement, we envision happy days filled with family, friends, and hobbies. We think of a rich, independent life of our own making. But as we age, the likelihood of needing assistance with even basic daily tasks multiplies, as does our odds of living in a nursing home.
The Open Door - UL 746: Enhancements to Enclosure Flammability & Ignition Requirements
Last November, Underwriters
Laboratories Inc. (UL) published the Fifth Edition of
UL 746C, Standard for Polymeric Materials - Use in Electrical
Equipment Evaluations. The revised standard features
significant enhancements to the enclosure flammability requirements,
and manufacturers need to understand the changes to determine
the impact on the future development of products. The effective
date for the changes is June 1, 2004.
From the Top - R&D's Rocky Road: Why a New Alternative is Essential
In my May column, I talked about the "innovation crisis" that has hit many technology-based industries.
The Open Door - The Threat of Counterfeiting
Widespread use of counterfeit marks undermines the entire North American system of standards, testing, and certification that has been put in place to protect the interests of retailers, regulators, specifiers, product manufacturers, as well as consumers.
From the Top - The Innovation Crisis
Frankly, I returned from my 15th (or so) International Appliance Technical Conference (IATC), held March 10-12, in Lafayette, IN, U.S., a bit depressed.
The Open Door - Greater Chip Integration Drives Down System Costs
Semiconductor chips that combine microcontroller (MCU) and digital signal processor (DSP) capability, along with flash memory and other peripherals, are rapidly driving advanced features and functions into appliances.
From the Top - Engineering to Own the Space(SM)
Your patented new product is just about to hit the market, where it has the potential to transform the industry. But before you start projecting revenue streams and planning for a new manufacturing wing, you may want to consider this: Developing a technology breakthrough is a monumental effort - but it's only half the job.
The Open Door - Transition of Blowing Agents Used in Refrigerator-Freezer Foam Insulation
Household refrigerator-freezers are the most popular major appliance in the world. It is estimated that there are approximately 60-million units produced annually, and about 500-million units in service worldwide.
From the Top - The Open Source Solution
On Oct. 15, 2002, a group of leading researchers, scientists, web and IT specialists, engineers, and business leaders met in Cambridge, MA, U.S. at the MIT Open Source Building Alliance (OSBA) workshop.
From the Top - The Cost of Corrosion
Jane noticed that the temperature in her refrigerator seemed to be rising. Since it was still under warranty, she called and asked for a manufacturer's service representative to investigate. By the time he arrived 2 days later, she had moved the majority of perishable foods into a cooler and emptied the freezer of half-thawed food. The refrigerator had clearly lost its ability to cool.
AE: The Open Door - Assessing Your Lean Enterprise Transformation
The world has become very competitive. And competing not only means having an adequate pricing policy, but also having competitive performance in terms of quality and delivery, and being able to customize products to customer needs in short lot volumes.