My Bosch Nexxt Series 300 washer does the same thing to clothes, no matter how the clothes are loaded, it almost always turns them into a knotted mess which makes the washer do a line dance. You have to stop it, pull out the load, unwind everything, put it back in and continue. My old washer never did this.
I don't object to electronics in appliances except when they are poorly designed and executed as seems the case most of the time these days. It is patently ridiculous to have to change out a board because one or two components bit the dust at a cost of hundreds of dollars. This may or may not be due to lousy engineering and manufacturing, it probably IS due to stupid management practices at the very least.
Sooner or later, I hope buyers rise up and tell these stupid management run companies that they aren't going to buy this crap any more. On the other hand, it is getting rather difficult to find a company with reliable products!
Actually, Bob, I am not that impressedd with current dishwashers. I had to replace my old Kitchen Aide dishwasher, which I bought used for $100 30 years ago, when the timer motors failed, and I was unable to purchase replacment motors, although I could have purchased a slightly used timer for $50. It was beginning to show some rust around screw heads, but it had no leaks or other failures.
My new one has had one product recall, which was about a potential problem with the heater element, which would cause it to overheat and melt through the plastic tub, creating both a flood and a fire hazard. The steel tub of the old one would not have had any such problem.
Likewise, I would pick a mechanical timer over a consumer-grade microcontroller system any day, as far as reliability goes. Those marginally adquate triacs in an electronic control system can and do fail, and the whole board or module must be replaced for several hundred bucks, since repair components are not available.
I do like the concept of an appliance using the new hardware but the older type of controller, or, to be modern about it, use an Automation Direct PLC? The whole thing sells for about the same as a new control module, but it is industrial service rated, and if it does need to be replaced, parts are available and cheaper, as well.
I wonder if there is a market for taking some of these good old fashion designs and reverse engineering them into a new appliance. I can envision a company that takes the most reliable and practical appliances and builds new ones. The new ones would use new motors, new assembly techniques, and the same old reliable mechanical timers and switches like before. The individual components would be selected for ease of maintenance and replacement (infrequent we hope). Fancy electronics that don't really add much value but greatly expand the cost would be forbidden.
The goal should be simplicity and reliability. Just how much added value are these fancy electronics and controls in something as mundane as a dishwasher, refrigerator and washer and dryer? Do these features really improve the product?
It seems like very once in a while we have to get back to basics.
So far I have not had that problem Ted describes. But I watched the repair man when he was working on my machine, there is a PC terminal that he was hooking up to to check for error messages. If Ted needs to access the terminals he would need to use a butter knife in the small space between the lid and the front panel. There are small tabs about 3 3/4" from each side that simply have to be pushed in to release them to access the electronics.
But the problem that Ted will have eventually is that the fabric softener will clog up. To clean the passageways will require lifting the blue door at the center of the "agitator." The blue door has the following printed on it..."Add Fabric Softener Here". After lifting up the door he will need to use channel locks or he might even be able to turn it with his hands, but the center part needs to be turned counter clockwise 1/8th of a turn then lifted up. The whole fabric softener dispenser will come out and can be cleared with a tooth brush and pipe cleaners.
Our Monkey blogger Ted Varga has offered some solutions to problems he has encourntered with the GE Profile washer:
The "secret code" to "Re-Set" (Reboot) the GE Profile Washing Machine is:
1. Scratch your nose.
2. Tap your left foot three times.
3. On the washer, Press "MyCycles" and "Back" TOGETHER for 3 seconds.
4. Follow instructions on the screen.
That should get you on your way to re-set the washer and get it to perform its intended function.
There is one other "secret" the repair man showed us. We use this tool all the time to help us use the washer.
WORD OF WARNING
The following procedure DEFEATS an important SAFETY mechanism of the washer. Use this procedure at your own risk.
If you have a rather strong and small magnet, you can lift the lid and place the magnet on the top of the washer, just under where the lid was, toward the front and on the left. Move the magnet around until the washer starts and you have found the "sweet" spot when the washer starts with the lid UP. We use this procedure to add washing agents without stopping the washer.
According to the GE repair man, these are the only two "tricks" that are not published in the user's manual.
Bog Groh offers some good analysis. A lot of companies now have engineering, manufacturing, and sales on different continents. Many companies have tried to bridge the individual silos with collaboration tools. Some companies have worked to tie input and accountability to the collaboration so one team can't make changes without a sign-off from the distributed team members. I understand that some companies such as P&G have made this process work.
Rob Spiegel makes some very good points about the reliability of the old vs. new brands. I have a few points to throw into the mix (based on 40+ years of engineering and a more than a few applicances):
#1: today's dishwashers are, in some respects, much better than the old ones. In the past, I always had my dishwashers die with rusted out tubs and baskets - I felt lucky if I made 10 years on a dw. Today, with plastic tubs and much better coatings on the baskets, rustout is mostly a non-issue.
#2: the use of microprocessors brings a welcome number of advantages but, if not done right, failures in the electronic components can be very, very frustrating.
#3: I don't fault manufacturing or engineering. The primary problem, I think, is management and the de-centralization of the entire manufacturing process (i.e. from design to final product). There seems to be (in all too many cases) little responsibility taken for a product's success - someone at Honeywell used the term 'silo mentality'. Everyone does their job but ONLY their job. There is not enough feedback in the system so little changes downstream when a problem is found upstream. A controller board fails? So what - just sell the customer a new one. No one seems to care what the problem was with the board or worries about fixing the problem. It makes me a bit upset. As an engineer, I want to fix problems. Management wants to only make money and then only in the short term. Sigh.
Thank you for editing the article about the Monkeys and the GE Profile washing machine that Ted Varga wrote. We got the same washing machine a bit over a year ago and almost immediately my wife complained about the performance. We called GE and they went over the operating procedures (which my wife had already read and followed).
They decided they might need to send a technician out to tweak the machine but my wife thought she would try it a bit longer. A few months later the machine broke down so we did have a technician come out. He confided in us that his mom owned one like this and he has a hard time getting clothes clean too. Because it cost so much we cannot afford to simply replace it, but if Mr. Varga would not mind sharing the "secret code," I will tell him how to "repair" the fabric softener device when it clogs up! Which it will. It is fairly simple, but not so easy to describe in writing.
Truchard will be presented the award at the 2014 Golden Mousetrap Awards ceremony during the co-located events Pacific Design & Manufacturing, MD&M West, WestPack, PLASTEC West, Electronics West, ATX West, and AeroCon.
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For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.