Solutions

Manufacturers of world–famous home appliances organize crucial stages in the design process with FileMaker Pro 7

Whirlpool Corporation

Whirlpool Corporation manufactures a full line of home appliances, under such brand names as Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Brastemp, Bauknecht, and Consul. Based in Benton Harbor, MI, Whirlpool Corporation maintains manufacturing and distribution facilities worldwide, employing more than 68,000 people in the design, manufacture, and distribution of its products. Members of the design team depend on FileMaker Pro 7 to organize an essential element of their work.

Overview

  • Manufacturers of a full range of household appliances and equipment for the contemporary home
  • Based in Benton Harbor, MI
  • Insert Overview Here

Solutions

  • FileMaker Pro 7 database system stores and manages job requests from Whirlpool industrial designers and usability specialists, contributing to the complex process of preparing new appliance designs before manufacturing can begin.

Benefits

  • Web–based interface facilitates rapid submission and processing of lab requests
  • Database management of lab requests reduces errors and labor time and permits rapid analysis of resource allocation — leading to reduced costs overall

With all the automation scripting that's available, it's very simple to create shortcut buttons for FileMaker Pro users within the layouts.

— Matt McCubbins, Technical Analyst, Whirlpool Corporation

Business Challenge

From refrigerators, freezers, ranges, and dishwashers to convenient, labor saving handheld and tabletop appliances, Whirlpool products are famous world over for their efficient, attractive, user–friendly design. However, before those products find their way to the consumer, a staff of industrial design experts and usability specialists supervises every step of the design process to ensure they are both ergonomic and attractive. "We have several labs in our Global Consumer Design department, including our Stylemaster Lab, our 3D Prototype Lab, our Usability Lab, and our Color Trends Lab," explains technical analyst Matt McCubbins. "Each of these labs takes requests from the industrial designers and usability specialists within our department for services such as the creation of artwork or prototype models, reservation of lab time, and studies of future color trends."

With a constant stream of lab requests from the various designers coming in via written requisitions or email, the department realized a more efficient system was needed to prevent errors and scheduling conflicts. "Since one of our labs had successfully been using FileMaker Pro since 1995," Matt continues, "we decided to update to the latest version and expand our usage to include the web–enabled access of FileMaker Pro 7.

Successful Solution

Whirlpool designers use a system of 15 FileMaker Pro 7 databases, containing approximately 7500 records, and now process incoming lab requests via the web. "We simply created user–friendly database layouts within FileMaker Pro 7, and let the Instant Web Publishing tool translate these layouts into an easy–to–use browser interface," relates Matt. "We then placed links to the web–based request system on our department's web page."

Four workgroups take advantage of this system, along with a dozen client users, and some 80 department staffers who use the web interface to submit their lab requests. These requests can include such variables as information about the person submitting the request as well as the specific nature of the request and the lab procedures that will be used to complete the request. As the information comes in from the web interface, lab staff monitor and process the requests using the FileMaker Pro client.

After just one month of using FileMaker Pro 7 our labs have already realized improvements in our processes, such as reduced data redundancies, increased accuracy of data, and greater efficiencies in the transfer of job requests between the labs and their customers. Also, our lab managers can now create comprehensive reports on the data captured by FileMaker Pro — reports which help the department to better understand and manage our lab resources.

— Matt McCubbins, Technical Analyst, Whirlpool Corporation

Customer Benefits

With the new FileMaker Pro 7 system now firmly in place, the days of shuffling lab request forms and emails are history throughout the Global Consumer Design department — and no one misses them at all. "After just one month of using FileMaker Pro 7," declares Matt, "our labs have already realized improvements in our processes, such as reduced data redundancies, increased accuracy of data, and greater efficiencies in the transfer of job requests between the labs and their customers. Also, our lab managers can now create comprehensive reports on the data captured by FileMaker Pro — reports which help the department to better understand and manage our lab resources."

The enhanced productivity features of FileMaker Pro 7 have encouraged personnel to streamline routine tasks even further. "For example, " Matt notes, "with all the automation scripting that's available, it's very simple to create shortcut buttons for FileMaker Pro users within the layouts. By using the 'portal' feature, we've allowed our 3D Prototype Lab to view a snapshot of its processes database from within its request form database. This is a very useful feature, which ties the two databases together.

Using FileMaker Pro 7 also reduces error rates and data entry time — allowing lab staff to devote more of their workday to more productive tasks, helping to improve the overall efficiency of the department. All this is achieved at nominal development costs — with Matt and his IT Assistant Kimberly Klaer creating the entire system in–house. It's a system that they expect will provide reliable, scalable service for years to come.

For FileMaker:

Kevin Mallon
Public Relations Manager
FileMaker Inc.
408-987-7227
kevin_mallon@filemaker.com
http://www.filemaker.com

For Whirlpool Corporation:

Matt McCubbins
Technical Analyst
Whirlpool Corporation
269-923-2947
matthews_t_mccubbins@whirlpool.com
http://www.whirlpool.com