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issue: June 2008 APPLIANCE Magazine

Europe Report
Miele: Smaller Oven, New Factory


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by Paul Roggema, Europe Correspondent

Cabinets are degreased and rinsed in a series of chemical baths to ensure adhesion of the finish. Miele’s patented electrophoretic dip process is the final stage of the new enameling line.

Miele, one of Germany’s premium appliance manufacturers, recently opened a factory for its new 5000 oven line in Oelde, Germany, where the company also has its cooking R&D.

One of the main drivers behind the new oven line is market demand for smaller ovens. The typical oven size in Europe—Miele’s biggest market—is 60 cm wide and 60 cm high, but in the last few years 45- cm-high ovens have become more popular. Upscale customers want a second, smaller oven, sometimes with an additional steam or microwave function.

At recent European kitchen exhibitions, one could see blocks of four units displayed: two full-sized and two smaller. The smaller units could also be a built-in espresso maker or a high-end pressure-steam oven.

Several new Miele developments come off of the new production line, and one of the most important is the Moisture Plus steam generator, which injects steam during the cooking process.

Dr. Ernst-Jürgen Breford, general manager for the Oelde facility, explained to APPLIANCE magazine that this is not a steam oven, in which the steam is the main heating medium. Miele’s oven only adds steam at certain moments during the cooking cycle. For instance, when baking bread, extra moisture at the beginning helps to form a nice crust. The control unit can add steam automatically, but the user can also program it for custom steam cycles. Miele provides a cookbook to help with this feature.

Also unique is Miele’s wireless food probe. All models have an electronic control unit, which can also measure oxygen levels using a new sensor. Most models use rotary knobs, but top models have touch screen controls.

The cooking programs reflect varying European cooking habits and the programs and display language are adapted to each country; Miele even offers a Chinese version.

The new product line required a total investment of €51 million, of which about €10 million went into the new production line. Cavities of 66 and 43 L are produced with only one operator.

Part of the extensive test cycle is an automated video check right after stamping, to check all openings in the cavity. After stamping and shaping of sheet metal blanks, the roof and rear panels are added. An electric wheel welding process creates welds so precise that seams are difficult to spot later.

After degreasing and rinsing, the cavities are dip-enameled in an electrophoretic process developed by Miele. The process involves immersing cavities and some accessories in a bath of electrically charged liquid enamel. Again the precision of the welding process becomes a factor—it allows for full enameling without irregularities. The cavity is fired at 850°C, after which Miele’s patented nonstick finish, PerfectClean, is applied.

All other components are then added, with all electrical parts (also Miele designed and produced) housed in a single unit called an E-Box.

The new line delivers two cavities per minute. Together with the existing line and other smaller lines that produce larger ovens for the U.S. market, the factory now has 700 SKU’s in seven cabinet sizes. The facilities are designed for a total production volume of 350,000 units yearly.

 

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