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In the Life of a… Washing Machine

31/08/2016

I was a revolutionary in the 20th Century and I’m embracing smart technologies in the 21st Century – I am a washing machine. I am usually born in foreign lands, mainly in Europe, although a company has just started manufacturing my kind within British shores (Ebac) – the first for 20 years.

The place of birth for my brand is in a factory in Germany. I am assembled in two parts – a body and a door, which comprise of many smaller components. Some parts may be plastic and some may be metal, and some components may have been manufactured in a different country requiring shipping, air or land transportation to the factory.

On the factory floor, my parts are transported by a conveyor belt to the assembly station.
Usually, an assembly robot assembles my body and door. Once I am assembled and finished, I am transported by a conveyor to the packaging line and I am packed into a box by factory workers. Ten of my kind together makes up a batch, which is then loaded onto a truck and transported from the factory across the continent to the French town of Calais.

Next, I find myself travelling under the sea through the Eurotunnel. The trailer that holds me is parked within a cage and moved along by rail. Only 35 minutes later and I have reached the British town of Folkestone. My driver returns to his truck and drives me off to my retailer’s warehouse, which is managed by a separate storage company on their behalf.

Once I am fully checked in and logged onto both the warehouse company’s system and the linked computer system for my retailer, I await my journey to the retailer’s warehouse.

Once my retailer orders a number of my stock into their own warehouse, I am put on display for customers to view at one of their main retail outlet stores. A batch of my washing machines may be transported to the storage area behind the store. When a new customer request comes in, I am taken from this storage area and sold to the customer. When the number of my washing machines reaches a low level of stock, a new batch will be ordered from the retailer’s warehouse, which will be delivered again by truck to the retail outlet.

Once I am bought, I have to be delivered to the customer. Another company is usually responsible for my delivery to the customer and installation into the home. Once I am fitted in my new owner’s home, the same company usually manages the maintenance and extended warranty aspect of my lifecycle. I usually live for 10 years or more.

What’s more, the Internet of Things is beginning to impact both my development and the supply chain. In the near future, I will be fitted with sensors to detect things like limescale build up before it damages my engine, which will notify my Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to check whether parts are in stock. This could even trigger a service call with an engineer to replace my parts before I break down and customer relationship management applications will automatically notify my owners, alerting them to the issue.

The future is very bright indeed for a washing machine!

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