Whirlpool, already known as an early adopter of energy-efficient products, is just finishing up a complete supply chain redesign in order to conserve energy and cut air pollution, writes DC Velocity.
Whirlpool has a history of conscious, environmental activism: In the 1970s, it was one of the first businesses to set up an office of sustainability for product development, and in the 90’s, it was a champion of Energy Star, the government-backed program for the design and manufacture of energy-efficient products. In 2003, the company publicly pledged to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases worldwide – a pledge that it recently renewed (-6.6 percent by 2012).
The supply chain overhaul – the first in 20 years – started in 2005, incorporating 20 plants in North America, 11 in Europe, three in Latin America, and six in Asia – as well as its network of factory, regional, and local distribution centers. Having acquired competitor Maytag in 2006, there was even more to take care of.
Whirlpool invested into new buildings and equipment to make the new system environmentally sustainable, consolidating old centers and replacing them with facilities containing energy-efficient lights, skylights, and motion sensors to turn lights on and off automatically.
To both curb pollution and reduce noise and product damage, Whirlpool replaced 105 of its internal-combustion industrial clamp trucks with cleaner electric models. It also made an effort to use more rail transportation and ship products in fuller loads.
And to encourage fuel efficiency among its carriers, Whirlpool developed a surcharge policy with incentives and penalties for how well (or how poorly) the companies they work with use fuel.