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issue: November 2007 APPLIANCE European Edition

On the Factory Floor

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A dishwasher undergoes performance testing. The plant’s test program is more intensive and runs at a higher temperature.

The Zarów factory produces about 200 dishwasher models, with about 90 main models. The presses work in four shifts, seven days a week. Some assembly lines work in two shifts, while others have three shifts. Much of the production is manual labor, with the only robots located in the tub line to apply the silicone kit for the door sealing.

The factory begins with two press lines. They use stainless or prepainted steel. The first line presses the tub, and the second line produces other parts. Next is the oven line, where the bitumen is attached to the tub.

Each press line has four stations. The first station includes a 500-ton press, with additional 200- and 100-ton “effect” presses. These smaller presses are auxiliary presses within the main press that allow users to perform multiple pressings in one press. The second station has a 300-ton slide press with a 200-ton effect press. The third and fourth stations use 300-ton presses. Changing the molds takes 30 minutes.

Next to the presses is a so-called “quality gate”—a display of all the quality standards, test methods and norms, escalation procedures, and tool descriptions. The concept of a quality gate was developed in Zarów.

One challenge the plant faced when it first opened was the inner door pressing: Scratches from different sources were found. Since the inner door of a dishwasher is one of the most visible parts, the company knew this was not acceptable. Several causes were identified, including insufficiently polished molds, dirt in the presses, remaining oil, and damage by tools during assembly. While detecting and correcting all of the causes, Electrolux says the problem is now completely under control.

Next is the tub line. The tub parts are not welded, but seamed, which the appliance maker says is more cost-effective. The design of the line is about five years old and is also used in the Italian Solaro dishwasher factory.

An overview of tub line stations includes the following:

  • Attaching the internal pipe holder and rack wheel.
  • Bending forms into a U-shape.
  • Cleaning.
  • Adding a bottom and top.
  • Using hot metal to weld the top and bottom.
  • Seaming of the top and bottom.
  • Applying silicon for the door rubber.
  • Clinching basket holders for top rack.
  • Clinching rear panel to tub.

In assembly, there are three lines: two main lines for 60-cm-width models and a smaller line for compact products. The layout is straightforward and follows the material flow.

Along the line, there are plan boards. On the top, there are descriptions of master classes under way, followed by continuous improvements, and smaller improvements that are in progress.

The test line has 51 positions. First, there is a high-voltage safety test, with automatic grounding of the dishwasher. Next, a machine runs a 20-minute program, where all the functions are tested thoroughly. The computer communicates through the mains connection, and all test results are stored.

Testing problems are signaled by placing a blue sign on top of the appliance. The dishwasher passes a gate, and a magnet in the sign redirects the machine to a special conveyer belt for correction. The drying station (after the test belt) has a clip to prevent built-in machines (which have no counterweight) from tipping over.

Transport from the plant is mainly by truck. There is a rail connection, but the Polish railways cannot guarantee the day of arrival, so that is of limited use.


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