Whirlpool Case Essay

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Ilona Lemeshov Operations Management Oct 7, 2009 How did the customer-supplier relationship between SEC and Whirlpool change as a result of the TQM initiative? As a result of the TQM initiative, SEC became Whirlpool's business partner and and the focus of this relationship shifted from price as the primary criterion for purchase. Instead, Whirlpool required SEC, as well as other potential suppliers, to provide extra value-added services and become experts in Whirlpool's business, participate in customer-supplier teams, and learn about the needs of Whirlpool's customer base. SEC was expected to initiate cost saving and quality improvement programs. They went along with Whirlpool's demands because they saw TQM's principles as an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage. How did Whirlpool help its suppliers to better understand Whirlpool's quality requirements? Should Whirlpool have helped more? Whirlpool offered no guidance in achieving these demands, and thus left the strategic planning and implementation solely with the supplier. Perhaps it would have been helpful if Whirlpool would have provided some leadership to SEC, however, this forced SEC to solve its own problems quickly, and constantly initiate new technology ideas. Because of SEC's alertness and readiness to change, their sales increased a whopping 125% between the years of 1993-1997. How has SEC made Whirlpool's products better? SEC provides Whirlpool with high-quality, low-cost, and timely products. In addition, SEC helps predict consumer preferences, and offers opinions, suggestions, and solutions to problems about many of Whirlpool's products. What are the advantages and disadvantages when a new management initiative such as TQM is introduced into a firm's supply chain? An advantage of management initiatives such as TQM is the company's commitment to continuous quality improvement. To

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