Premium Brand Gains Global Momentum With Connected, Smart Home Appliances
Fisher & Paykel’s Partnership with Jabil Blends Design, Innovation and World-Class Manufacturing
FISHER & PAYKEL & JABIL
Fisher & Paykel is quickly becoming a household name in the premium home appliance market, thanks in large part to an unflinching focus on product quality and technological innovation. Founded in 1934, the New Zealand-based organization has consistently challenged conventional appliance design to deliver a slew of game changers in terms of appliance look, feel and function.
A growing roster of awards and elite industry recognitions, such as inclusion in Architectural Digest’s prestigious “2019 Great Design Awards: Kitchens,” has strengthened Fisher & Paykel’s position as a premium home appliance brand. Part of the Haier Group since 2012, Fisher & Paykel’s growing global momentum is matched only by its impressive product portfolio.
The company won acclaim for its patented DishDrawer™ dishwasher and CoolDrawer™ multi-temperature refrigeration drawer, as well as SmartDrive™ motors and ActiveSmart™ Foodcare refrigeration technology. “Fisher & Paykel has a heritage of designing unique products,” explains Shane Rehm, VP of Product, North America, for Fisher & Paykel. “We think a bit differently about the products we design, the kitchens or homes they’re going into, and how they’ll be used.”
Fisher & Paykel also closely follows the latest innovations to better anticipate evolving consumer needs. “The technologies and trends we’re really studying currently are things like smart and connected homes,” says Kevin Dexter, President of North America for Fisher & Paykel. “We strive to ensure there’s a real consumer benefit for every technology we invest in, so before we think about putting a certain technology into an appliance, we first determine the actual consumer benefit.”
Putting Customers First
An esteemed member of an elite group of luxury appliance brands, Fisher & Paykel is favored by home and kitchen specifiers, designers and architects for living up to its brand promise. Being human-centered and human-centric is evident in the company’s product design philosophy and go-to-market approach. Sleek, modern designs are complemented by practical functionality that adds value without adding complexity.
“We put the customer at the center of everything we do,” says Rehm. “This mindset influences how we differentiate our products in the market.” Guided by its customer-value barometer, Fisher & Paykel developed an ergonomic dishwasher featuring pull-out drawers similar to kitchen drawers for easier access. Integrated refrigerator columns in varying configurations were developed for ultimate kitchen design flexibility, while Variable Temperature Zone technology adapts instantly to different patterns of use.
Fisher & Paykel increasingly is equipping products with embedded sensors, capacitive technologies and streamlined human-machine interfaces. “You run into more than a few challenges when applying electronics to household appliances with cooling and heating elements, ” Rehm continues. “It’s not a matter of just getting electronics to work in harsh environments, but you must attain the highest product quality levels so it works for 15 plus years inside a fridge or even across a number of operation points.”
To best support its burgeoning product portfolio and aggressive growth trajectory, Fisher & Paykel decided to partner with a global manufacturing solutions provider. According to Neil Cheyne, General Manager of Electronics, Reliability and Compliance, selection criteria encompassed quality, cost, delivery and business fit.
Initially, Fisher & Paykel contemplated bringing on two providers, each to handle a blend of high-volume, low-mix along with low-volume, high-mix manufacturing. It soon became apparent, however, that Jabil was the best manufacturing partner for both production areas, especially since Jabil’s Workcell Model called for a dedicated cross-functional team devoted to helping Fisher & Paykel meet both its manufacturing and business milestones. “Business fit was the real clincher,” recalls Cheyne. “We realized that we could set up a good working relationship with Jabil.”
Jabil’s vision for the partnership also resonated with Fisher & Paykel. “We wanted that long-term commitment where there’s mutual gain and mutual benefit,” says Dexter. “Jabil fits the bill for us as somebody that’s in it for the long haul, that’s credible and has a history and legacy for delivering on promises.”
“Jabil fits the bill for us as somebody that’s in it for the long haul, that’s credible and has a history and legacy for delivering on promises.”
- Kevin Dexter, President of North America for Fisher & Paykel
The partners transitioned production lines from an existing Fisher & Paykel facility in Thailand to Jabil Huangpu, the manufacturer’s largest site in China. “The Workcell Jabil assembled was very active in the transition process as it was a large project to transfer manufacturing,” notes John Davies, Design Manager for Electronics at Fisher & Paykel.
Jabil devised generic testers to make it easier to bring low-volume products through the manufacturing process. Additionally, Jabil leveraged innovative processes and tooling solutions to lower the cost of making fixtures and tooling needed for manufacturing while seeking every opportunity to reduce risk.
Following the initial ramp, Fisher & Paykel began taking advantage of Jabil’s design services to enhance product development. “What I really enjoy about working with the Jabil teams is how open and collaborative they are,” notes Cheyne. “We can just pick up the phone and talk through any issues.
It doesn’t matter if we are talking about a future product or a current issue; we share a very easy, relaxed communications style, which is very important to us.”
A strong cultural alignment between organizations is credited for facilitating seamless communications between teams. According to Dexter, Fisher & Paykel has a flat organization globally and at local levels, which enables people to be proactive and pragmatic problem solvers. “I see those same attributes in Jabil; they’re very approachable and accountable in the things we agree to do,” says Dexter. “No problem is too big or small to pick up the phone and be solved. For me, these are the key components to a truly great relationship.”
From Prototype to Production
Today, Jabil and Fisher & Paykel collaborate on New Product Introductions (NPIs), addressing critical steps from creating prototypes to streamlining final production. In addition to exploring the ideal mix of manufacturing processes and technologies, Jabil handles vendor and component selection to optimize product design, supply chain, product quality and delivery requirements.
“We’ve rolled out more than 30 NPI programs together,” says Cheyne. “Jabil has been wonderful about turning things around very quickly, when we’ve needed to get either prototypes or changes through the pre-production system.” Jabil is equally adept at navigating supply chain headwinds, especially in light of lingering constraints in electronics components.
“Part of the challenge in introducing a new product is addressing high lead times on components,” says Davies. “We have a lot of challenges around time-to-market, and Jabil helps us manage that problem.” As electronics supply shortages have persisted, Jabil taps alternate suppliers and safety stock to meet aggressive production timetables without sacrificing product quality.
“Jabil’s global supply chain team has really good market intelligence about what’s happening in the industry,” Cheyne adds. “We’re constantly getting updates on suitable vendors, so we often have a choice of multiple suppliers at a cross-section of prices, which is really valuable.”
“The Workcell Jabil assembled was very active in the transition process as it was a large project to transfer manufacturing,”
- John Davies, Design Manager for Electronics, Fisher & Paykel
Connected Smart Appliance of the Future
Fisher & Paykel also is leveraging Jabil’s design services to continually add consumer value to its product portfolio and premium brand. For instance, the addition of guided cooking functionality with touchscreen interfaces offers consumers real-time access to recipes and step-by-step cooking instructions.
To optimize user experience, Jabil’s design team developed a Thin-Film Transistor (TFT) display, which uses transparent semiconductors and electrodes to create detailed images with rich colors and sophisticated graphics. “TFT displays are an important part of user interaction with our products,” explains Cheyne. “We worked with Jabil’s design services experts to both develop and produce these displays.”
During development, the group collaborated on compressing timelines to meet an aggressive production schedule. “That was a wonderful kind of collaboration,” Cheyne adds. “We were able to deliver a pretty complex piece of design on time.”
Connectivity is an increasingly major focus for all appliance brands, which will continue to impact product roadmaps for the foreseeable future. “We’re very focused on determining the different ways that increased connectivity and sensor technology can add more value to the customer by integrating functionality into appliances and across the home,” says Davies. “We’ve also been investigating camera solutions with Jabil and have strong support in terms of the path forward.”
As Fisher & Paykel looks to the future, continued innovation and collaboration with Jabil remains a top priority. The ability to take advantage of Jabil’s electronics and sensor experience from the automotive, smart home, mobility and consumer wearables sectors will prove invaluable, as will the opportunity to build upon an impressive track record. “Jabil is a great partner as we think about the longevity and success that can be had over the long term,” concludes Dexter. “As Fisher & Paykel expands globally into the premium appliance business, this partnership is going to deliver great dividends.”