Whirlpool Asia Manufacturing, Sam Wu

2020 has been a year of unprecedented events, challenges and opportunities. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on each of us personally and professionally, and these challenges push business leaders for their entrepreneurship and creativity to drive the business forward. The lockdown caused consumers to rethink their priorities and disrupt the way they purchased, while the digital economy is rapidly accelerating due to such behavioral change.

World Class Manufacturing China, Whirlpool CorporationThe disruption in the consumer market is influencing the supply end simultaneously. To meet the needs of this fast-evolving digital landscape and to be prepared for the next generation of manufacturing, it is pivotal to accelerate the rejuvenation of the value chain and develop operational excellence.

Aiming to set the industry benchmark for global manufacturing excellence and delivering best-in-class manufactured products, Whirlpool Corporation set forth the “World Class Manufacturing” (WCM) initiative to transform our end-to-end manufacturing. Embedment of WCM and digital transformation have helped us to make significant improvements in our product quality and productivity efficiency. We further reduced waste and emission, contributing to our sustainability goals. In Asia, four out of five of our manufacturing sites are now “Zero waste to landfill” operations. Our manufacturing and distribution network is growingly resilient thanks to cutting-edge technologies, advanced data analytics and capability enhancement of our teams.

World Class Manufacturing, India, Whirlpool CorporationDuring the coronavirus pandemic, the Whirlpool Asia factories demonstrated resilience and agility, showcasing the commitment and capability of our operations team and the strength of our WCM methodology. Both in China and India, our plants were among the first in their provinces/states to start operations while maintaining all safety protocols. WCM empowers the manufacturing teams to make best use of our resources and stay resilient despite the circumstances. The teams were able to do a fast ramp-up, reaching planned volumes within six weeks.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact have prompted consumers to increase their purchases online, and this buying behavior will likely continue post-pandemic. We can certainly expect that the consumer decision journey is evolving as well. What matters most to consumers now are safety, product availability and trusted service. Bringing high quality products, making timely delivery and offering optimally priced products are all related to the agility of our value chain management and digital manufacturing. Staying agile, being innovative, and staying relevant to consumers is key to the success in the COVID and post-COVID era.

Sam Wu, President, Asia, Whirlpool Corporation