FALL RIVER, Mass. — Maytag®Commercial Laundry customers, several Massachusetts government officials and Whirlpool Corp. Commercial Laundry leadership took a behind-the-scenes tour of the company’s Fall River Manufacturing Facility Sept. 13 to launch Maytag’s new Multi-Load Washer and to see how the company is bringing its new platform and innovation to market.
“The Fall River facility allows us to expand our product capabilities and to provide our customers in the vended and on-premises laundry markets with options for greater flexibility and control,” says Trey Northrup, general manager of commercial laundry and JennAir®for Whirlpool Corp.
“With this capacity, we are able to be more nimble in our product offerings, delivering customized products and compelling solutions to our global customers.”
The Fall River facility represents a multi-million-dollar investment for Whirlpool in the commercial laundry industry. The 300,000-foot plant was part of the company’s acquisition of American Dryer Corp. (ADC) in 2015.
Whirlpool has made upgrades and enhancements to the facility in order to continue to produce dryers, along with adding the new Multi-Load Washer production capability and various testing processes.
“One great area of opportunity for us in the industry in total is the commercial space,” says Northrup. “Our commitment to this industry is steadfast. The No. 1 thing for us in this business in total was product quality, taking a leap forward in that, as well as innovation and technology.”
The company also sees the acquisition and upgrade of the facility as an investment in the Fall River community. More than 300 residents of the area work in the plant.
“We know of the great heritage here in Fall River in manufacturing,” Northrup says. “We also knew we needed to move fast; we knew we needed to be flexible. Not only the area embodies that, but at the time, American Dryer Corp. embodied that because of the people here. And we felt for us to be able to enhance the business in total in where we wanted to go in the timeframe we needed to do it, this rose to the top each and every time we looked at potential acquisitions.”
“We care very much about the jobs and the quality of jobs, and I’m very impressed,” says Massachusetts State Sen. Michael Rodrigues, whose district includes Fall River. “I’ve been through this facility many times during my 20 years in office, and it’s vastly improved. It’s obvious it’s a 21st-century facility.”
While tour participants were able to see washers and dryers in production and testing in the huge facility, the star of the tour was Maytag’s new Multi-Load Washer and assembly line.
During the tour, attendees were able to see the new washers moving down the line in production. Various styles of the washer can be built, side-by-side, on the line.
Maytag spent $35 million developing the multi-load washer to provide laundry owners and operators performance and durability.
“Recognizing that productivity and managing labor costs are tied to moving laundry through the operation efficiently, the machine is equipped with 200 G-forces on rigid mounts and 400 G-forces on soft mounts,” says Nick Koukourakis, senior product development manager for Whirlpool Corp. Commercial Laundry. “Machines with such high G-forces help to provide max extraction for quicker drying times and increased throughput."
Koukourakis says both on-premises and vended laundry operators were consulted during the design process of the washer. Some of its features include a powerful drive system and wash unit; flexible, intelligent controls for workflow customization; a Wi-Fi enabled laundry management system; and an easy-to-use LCD screen.
The Multi-Load Wash is configure-to-order, which allows owners and operators to customize construction options to meet the needs of their businesses. The 30-pound rigid-mount washer will be available beginning in October. The remaining sizes (ranging from 20 to 65 pounds) and configurations will be introduced over the next nine months.
Representatives from Hercules Corp., a commercial laundry provider in Hicksville, N.Y., that was among the first to place orders for the new Multi-Load Washer, were on hand to see how the washer is made, along with seeing the revamped Fall River facility in action.
“For us, the Maytag brand has long since represented reliability and dependability,” says Andrew May, president and CEO of Hercules Corp. “That tradition continues with the new Maytag Multi-Load Washer, which showcases the brand’s leadership in engineering, design and manufacturing. We are looking forward to how this new solution will help us meet the increasing demands of the industry.”