By Susanna de Besi
Founded in 2006, Whirlpool Latin America is the leader in the Latin American home appliances market, and is present in Brazil with the Brastemp, Consul and KitchenAid brands, with factories in Rio Claro (SP), Joinville (SC) and Manaus (AM). The company is admired for its brands, high performance and consumer focused innovation, and is always committed to sustainability.
In addition, it was one of 20 companies chosen as models for sustainability in the Exame magazine Sustainability Guide, due to its commitment to involving consumers and employees in creating a better world (even when making a purchase).
The history of the Whirlpool Corporation goes back to 1911, when the Upton Machine Company was founded in the state of Michigan (USA) to produce washing machines.
Created on May 1, 2006, Whirlpool S.A. emerged from a corporate restructuring between Multibrás S.A. Eletrodomésticos and Empresa Brasileira de Compressores – Embraco.
Brastemp was created in 1954 by Brasmotor; the name is based on the words Brazil and temperature. The company launched the first automatic washing machine in the country, the first dishwasher and the frost-free system. They switched the positioning of the refrigerator and freezer, created a line of customized products and launched an innovative water purification service.
BRASTEMP WATER PURIFIER
The Brastemp water purifier has a product-service system model, and is the result of a long innovation process which began in 2001. The second generation of the product is on the market today. The product’s benefits are divided into three pillars:
Sustainability – Brastemp is responsible for the product’s entire life cycle, from p
roduction to responsible disposal of its components. The purifier is 97% recyclable and recycled.
Convenience – Installation services, preventative maintenance and refill exchanges are included. Every 6 months Brastemp contacts the client and schedules a visit; the client does not have to do anything. There is much more practicality and attentiveness.
Health – Best filtering technology on the market. Done in three different stages with activated carbon, it guarantees pure water for your family 100% of the time.
CREATION OF THE WATER PURIFIER
The creation of the water purifier began in 2001 when an internal multidisciplinary group focused on innovation was established. With the consulting assistance from the Strategus group, studies were conducted that revealed water as a precious resource to be explored. They reached the conclusion that renting the product would be more interesting and sustainable for the modern world, instead of a simple purchase of a home appliance. Based on the development of the business case and market research, a design for the structure (business model, number of people) and the product itself were initiated.
In 2003, two years after the project began, the first version was launched. It was excellent for chilling water, with a superb flow and unique filtering technology. From 2003 to 2008, coverage was available in 13 states and assembly took place in Joinville. Due to the product’s popularity, the sales efforts that had focused on individual customers began to expand to other arenas and investments in infrastructure and marketing increased.
By 2009, the business had matured, and the company began to focus on reducing costs, achieving operational excellence, fulfilling service orders, reducing capture costs, reducing BOM (bill of material) and managing suppliers, among other things. In 2010, due to changes in industry competition and consumer behavior, the need for a second version of the product arose, and a multidisciplinary team was established. This team proceeded to study concurrent engineering for two years. During the project’s conceptual phase, a multidisciplinary design team was formed that included Advanced, Interaction, Sensorial, User, Metrics and Development Design.
The second version of the purifier was released in August 2012.
During the initial phase, an immersion technique was used in which the designer entered the user’s universe, observed and recorded the most unexpected needs. Since the service is a part of the product, technicians visited consumers’ homes and then listed opportunities for improvements to the process. Mapping out the task was fundamental for a macro view and expanding the design performance throughout the product’s life cycle.
The Interaction Design sector conducted a study with a focus group to discuss the use of an electronic interface with a CVL (consumer validation lab) technique to test and build a safe and user friendly interface that follows the principles of Universal Design.
The Usability sector performed research on use and total interaction with the product.
Of these five alternatives, three were prototyped for a design study with consumers. Once the physical structure was complete, a redesign began for one of the final product choices that had been previously approved in a conjoint study that confirmed acceptance, pricing and penetration potential, among other things.
After the focus group, the Interaction CVL (consumer validation lab), design (esthetics) usability and conjoint (purchasing simulation) studies took place; the product was developed and launched in August 2012.
The company learned to make the product knowing that it would be involved in its entire life cycle, including its final destination. This changed the project’s mentality and the way the product is viewed. For example, there are differences in maintenance frequency, easy component exchanges, easy reuse and recycling of the pieces and the relationship with the consumer. New logistics were created along with a customer service network, which is why the water purifier became a reference for new projects and an example of an innovative, sustainable and profitable product.
The “water” sector currently represents one of the most profitable areas in the company; it is a source of pride and an example for new projects to follow.