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Sub-Zero Innovates with the Internet of Everything


September 18, 2014 - 1 Comment

Blog authored by Chet Namboodri, Cisco and Marieke Wijtkamp, Librestream

Sub-Zero is a family owned business and, perhaps, best known as the developer of the first cabinet built-in refrigerator in the 1950s. Today, the company is the leading manufacturer of luxury appliances in North America, selling its top-of-the-line appliances worldwide. Sub-Zero employs more than 1,000 workers, with production facilities in Madison, WI, Richmond, KY, and, now, Goodyear, AZ. They are also a world-class example of a company who’s leveraging the Internet of Everything to drive innovation and who truly embodies the renaissance in American manufacturing.

Accelerating New Product Introduction (NPI) Cycles

In order to prepare for the largest product roll-out in the company’s history–60 new appliance models across refrigeration and its premium cooking brand, Wolf–Sub-Zero needed a top-notch, end-to-end network to provide flexible communication and collaboration between its engineering groups, the existing factories in Madison, and the new production facility in Goodyear. In addition, Sub Zero needed to ensure robust communication and diagnostic data exchange with external suppliers and installation partners. Dubbed the “New Generation Collaboration Initiative,” Sub-Zero worked with Cisco and Librestream to aid the design, launch, and ongoing manufacture of its new products.

Sub-Zero turned to a combination of Cisco’s networking infrastructure and Librestream’s ruggedized cameras and software to implement an industrial-grade mobile video collaboration solution. This enabled the cross-functional engineering, design and development, supply chain and manufacturing teams to accelerate time to market with the new refrigeration and cooking portfolio. Over a two-year period, Sub-Zero utilized the video solution internally and with external suppliers and vendors to discuss design and production issues and host live video sessions with onscreen mark-up and image sharing, all helping to accelerate decision making. Sub-Zero estimates they shaved 10-20 percent off of overall new product engineering and introduction (NPI) cycles, by better connecting teams and speeding up the design, development and production trouble-shooting processes.

According to Paul Sikir, VP of Engineering at Sub-Zero, the new collaboration processes have become part and parcel to how their teams now work.  “With this solution, we found a way to see and discuss very detailed videos and images from afar in a highly secure manner. We are now using video collaboration on a daily basis to finalize designs, correct production line issues, work with suppliers, and train installers and servicers,” he describes.

Along with NPI improvements, Sub-Zero experienced the following business outcomes and results using this manufacturing mobile video collaboration solution:

  • Estimated  internal savings in downtime costs  of $2,500 per production line per hour through faster resolution of design or manufacturing issues.
  • For one project, Sub-Zero estimates an annual travel savings of more than $40,000.
  • Over $100,000 savings in field testing costs.

This story is a great example of how savvy manufacturers are rethinking product design strategies and connecting people, process, data and things with the Internet of Everything, to innovate with service delivery, supply chain collaboration, and competitive advantage. For Sub-Zero, it is all part of strengthening premium brands and a customer-focused strategy for growth.

Read the full Sub-Zero case study here.

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1 Comments

  1. Dear Michael, I thought you'd be interested in this piece given our conversation last week. Cheers, Audrey MacKenzie 503-803-6423 audrey.w.mackenzie@gmail.com