Monday, May 14, 2012

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) Chapter 18 of Dayton, OH recently toured the KitchenAid plant in Greenville, OH. There, we witnessed the production of an American icon – the KitchenAid stand mixer. We saw a state of the art powder painting facility, robotic polishing of the patented bullet shaped gear case, CNC machining of the various components and the hand assembly of over 4,000 mixers per day.

The KitchenAid mixer began humbly enough in 1918 as a residential version of the commercial mixers produced by Hobart Manufacturing Company. These early models were beefy at nearly 65 pounds of cast iron construction! They were rugged and built with the aesthetic appeal of a drill press. The mixer was streamlined in 1936 by industrial designer Egmont Ahrens into the shape that is so familiar in kitchens today. The machines are also considerably lighter with the structural components made of die cast aluminum and zinc instead of using iron. A myriad palette of colors is offered to match any kitchen d├ęcor. The Greenville plant is the only plant producing KitchenAid stand mixers for both the domestic and export markets.

Today, KitchenAid is the last brand of residential stand mixer being produced in the United States. They proudly point out that their mixers are built with over 85% domestic content. All of their competitors have chosen to move offshore in pursuit of cheap labor. KitchenAid pursued this path as well with some of their other product lines. After looking at total costs, the decision was made to move production of hand mixers back to Greenville from China last year. Later this year, the production of their food processor line will be moved from China to Greenville. This is exciting news and proof that we can compete successfully in the global market from right here in the Miami Valley.

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