Whirlpool Closing Machining Operation

New designs use fewer parts, so production volumes will decline

Home appliance manufacturer Whirlpool Corp. intends to close its machining plant in Benton Harbor, Mich., late this year or early in 1011, and will combine the operations there with a plant in Clyde, Ohio. The change will result in elimination of 216 jobs.

Benton Harbor is also the site of Whirlpool’s headquarters, and the plant produces components for laundry machinery. Whirlpool brands include, Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Amana, Brastemp, Consul, and Bauknecht, among others. Whirlpool has about 67,000 employees at 67 manufacturing and research centers around the world, but the change follows “a comprehensive review of asset utilization of the company's laundry manufacturing facilities,” according to a statement.

"Whirlpool Corporation's newest laundry platforms are the most energy- and water-efficient we've ever produced and these products utilize new and fewer parts," explained v.p.-Manufacturing Operations, North America Region, Al Holaday. "New innovations have eliminated many of the traditional components produced at the Benton Harbor facility. The new streamlined internal components will be machined at the Clyde Division."

About 30 percent of Whirlpool’s workers are located in the U.S., and 17,000 of those are in manufacturing positions.

"Closing a facility is a difficult decision," Holaday said. "We are announcing this several months in advance as part of our commitment to make the transition as smooth as possible. We plan to work closely with the local Michigan Works office to assure assistance for these highly-skilled and capable individuals to find employment in the local area," he added.

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