Whirlpool Corporation offers consumers increased capacity and cutting-edge performance with its new global dishwasher architecture
Picture a kitchen sink packed with a mess of dishes after a family meal: dirty plates, forks, and knives, used wine and water glasses, and dessert dishes stacked high. It’s a scene most people would prefer to avoid.
The dishwasher can help, but sometimes there isn’t enough space for everything. Remaining items have to be washed, rinsed, and dried by hand or even left in the sink to await the next cycle.
There’s a need for extra capacity in the dishwasher.
Enter the “third rack.” If a dishwasher has this uppermost shelf, it’s handy for utensils and cooking tools like spatulas and tongs. Larger items, such as cups and cereal bowls, however, are often too large for this space. They’re forced to go on the deeper racks below, crowding already loaded pots, plates, and mixing bowls.
With this dilemma, Whirlpool Corporation’s Matt Voglewede and his team saw an opportunity for improvement.
“The third rack is the easiest rack to reach,” says Voglewede, the platform leader behind Whirlpool Corporation’s latest dishwashers. “We wanted to add a functional third rack with more capacity that could actually wash dishes, but we didn’t want to take away from the usability of the second rack. We wanted to preserve that.”
So Voglewede and his team began looking elsewhere in the machine to avoid sacrificing functionality. They redesigned and compressed components including the wash system, generating about three and a half inches of extra vertical space. The additional room enabled Whirlpool Corporation engineers to deliver the company’s first global architecture in the 24”/60cm stainless steel dishwasher market, with an available full-size third dishrack.
“Everyone says you have to have trade-offs. We disagreed,” Voglewede says. “And I think that’s what this project set out to do—to break that paradigm with 35 percent more capacity and better washing, better rinsing, better drying all at the same time.”
More space, greater performance
A competitive feature set is available across the new dishwasher line. KitchenAid models, for instance, are fitted with the largest third rack available,* leaving room not just for cutlery, but glasses, mugs, and bowls up to six inches tall.
“We do not measure usable capacity just by measuring the volumetric space in the unit,” says Whirlpool Corporation’s Alvaro Vallejo, a principal engineer behind the platform. “We actually run a more sophisticated analysis to examine the loadability of the unit and calculate how many items a consumer can fit inside.”
Not only does the third rack give consumers extra capacity, but it also features its own wash system to ensure dirty glasses and bowls are thoroughly washed and rinsed. The FreeFlex™ Third Rack in KitchenAid model even features rotating wash jets and a drying bar with tabs that help wick moisture off glasses.
“It’s a very dynamic wash system,” Vallejo says. “The dedicated water delivery in all three racks improves performance significantly.”
Dirty cookware and delicate glassware can also be washed and rinsed in the same cycle, thanks to the inclusion of advanced water microfiltration systems. Maytag models offer the brand’s industry-exclusive Dual Power Filtration, combining both 100% microfiltration and a 4-blade stainless steel food chopper positioned at the base of the dishwasher.
“We want to knock off all of those tough food particles,” Vallejo says, referring to a load of dirty dishes. “The chopper on the Maytag model disintegrates and gets rid of those solids before the wash cycle.”
In an increasingly eco-conscious world, relying on your dishwasher to successfully remove those food particles is important. The University of Michigan recently partnered with Whirlpool Corporation in a study examining techniques for greener dishwashing. Among the findings: avoiding pre-rinsing dirty dishes before loading them in the dishwasher reduces water use and greenhouse gas emissions.
“It’s more effective at resource management,” says Voglewede, who once again ties the platform back to the consumer and how its innovative advancements are improving life at home.
“It’s really giving them solutions that make people’s lives more efficient,” he says. “And if you make their lives more efficient, they can spend more time doing the things they love with family and friends.”
A global platform with the consumer in mind
Paying close attention to consumers’ needs is something Voglewede and his team committed themselves to throughout the dishwasher’s development.
“The team put the consumer at the center of everything they did with this new platform—that’s probably the thing I’m most proud of,” he says. “We spent a tremendous amount of time looking at real consumers. And we updated all of our specifications to what people are actually using in their kitchens: dishes, silverware, mixer bowls—everything.”
The platform became available in North America and Asia beginning earlier this year. A release in Europe will follow.
Whirlpool Corporation brands headlining the launch include KitchenAid and Maytag in North America, and Whirlpool in Asia. Whirlpool and JennAir brands are also planning to include the platform in their lineup in North America.
“This was a big opportunity for us,” Voglewede says. “It was simplifying architectures, delivering the best design, and then taking that globally around the world.”
While focusing on a single, universal platform for an appliance may sound easier than creating a range of many different ones, Voglewede explains there were challenges.
“When you design a global architecture, you can’t just design one region’s requirements and then go to the next, because that’s what drives a lot of change between models,” he says. “So part of the early upfront work that we had to do was really understand what is needed in all parts of the world, and find the optimal solution that balanced all of those requirements.”
Voglewede credits his colleagues with the platform’s achievements.
“The team did a fantastic job piecing together solutions that deliver on all elements of product performance and truly broke the paradigm,” he says. “It’s something I’m very proud of.”
*Among leading brands based on usable volume.