Dishwasher Factory: https://youtu.be/gB58uTHEtSQ
Range Factory: https://youtu.be/aPg5jbJA4Uk
The Whirlpool Corp. Kitchen-Aid factory in Lavergne, Tennessee is the location for this story. The factory uses the latest in computer-assisted robotic equipment to create refrigerators, essentially from scratch.
The “Salvagnini” machine featured at the beginning of the story is an amazing example of how computerized automated processes are being used in American factories to ensure top quality and uniform standards.
The elevator tower on the Salvagnini machine stores the sheets of metal that will be stamped, cut, bent and folded to form the entire cabinet of the Kitchen Aid built-in refrigerator. The elevator feeds the sheets of metal, front, back, and side, through the machine in order. In this way, the Salvagnini machine cuts and presses a complete set of cabinetry components for one unit, then starts over.
As the cabinet is being assembled, another team is manufacturing the inside of the refrigerator unit, the “liners”. The sheet metal is painted with the familiar white coating that one recognizes as the inside of the refrigerator. Another computerized sheet metal-punching machine, called an “Omada” prepares the liners for assembly. As the liners take shape, a refrigerator liner, then a narrower freezer liner, they move down the assembly line, ready to be dropped into the completed cabinet units at the end of the Salvagnini machine line.
Any design changes that need to be made can simply be programmed into the computer that controls the Salvagnini and the Omada machines, and the changes are made immediately.
As the cabinet liners are assembled and sealed, a special one-piece unit of “breaker trim” is used to join the units together. This trim is specially designed with no connecting joints, or cracks or crevices that can trap food, and bacteria.
Units are pulled off the line and tested at random for squareness. As our guide, Whirlpool Process Technician Wanda Gannon said, “If we have a problem on the production line, we want to know it now…You need a refrigerator whose doors are going to close properly, that seals properly…you have to have a square refrigerator.”
As the box moves down the line, the unit is filled with insulating foam. Once the foam is in, the interior assembly starts. Shelving brackets and braces are installed, the cooling coils and the refrigeration mechanism is put on, the electrical components are attached, the refrigeration unit is put on top, the internal fan is installed and the doors are attached.
Then the unit is sent to the testing area, where each unit is monitored for several hours before being boxed up and shipped out.