“The mindset of quality is everyone’s role,” explains Whirlpool Corporation Global Quality Management Director Binglai Chen.
She says that there are a few misconceptions about the term ‘quality.’ “It really is about providing that ultimate consumer experience. At Whirlpool, quality is ‘step one,’ and it’s embedded end to end in every aspect of everything we do.”
We systematically look at the entire process end to end and incorporate the voice of the customer. This not only factors into how we design our products, challenge our suppliers to bring their best foot forward, but how we manufacture, transport, and service our products as well.
During her almost 20 years at the company, Chen has had multiple roles, with many of them touching on quality.
“I joined Whirlpool back in 2001 as a quality engineer in Laundry. Throughout my work history of project management, Supply Base management and Product Development, I’ve gone to China twice, once to set up the quality organization there, and then came back to the Cooking organization to launch projects.” She’s also held roles in KitchenAid Small Appliances and Refrigeration, and was most recently stationed in China for Technology Integration before returning to the states in July for her current role.
“Our team is fixated on quality. The cross-functional work we do helps to ensure that ‘quality’ is ingrained as part of this company – so you will see inspections, technology, testing, data extraction and analytics built into each segment of our product cycle.”
“Quality is at the core of everything we do,” says Chen. “We systematically look at the entire process end to end and incorporate the voice of the customer. This not only factors into how we design our products, challenge our suppliers to bring their best foot forward, but how we manufacture, transport, and service our products as well.”
The quality team is constantly challenging the system, using a wealth of data to answer the questions of how can we get better, faster, and find ways to improve the products and find issues before they get to consumers? “We’ve got to do everything possible to give our consumers what they absolutely deserve, which is the best product,” says Chen.
When asked if she wants to continue working in quality for the rest of her career, she simply laughs and says, “I’d like to get to the point technology allows such effective quality management systems, that are so well balanced and so well embedded into everything we do, that my job will no longer be quality management, but will instead evolve into total consumer satisfaction management.”