Whirlpool's newest Cleveland facility greener, safer

Whirlpool's newest Cleveland facility greener, safer

September 22nd, 2012 by Paul Leach in Business Around the Region

Rosalia Palmerin, foreground, is an assembler at the Whirlpool plant in Cleveland, Tenn.

Photo by Paul Leach /Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Whirlpool officials Friday showed off a greener and safer plant than the aging appliance-making facility it replaced earlier this year.

The new 1 million-square-foot complex, which encloses 34 of the new Benton Pike facility's 123 acres, was designed to limit emissions and improve the efficiency and safety of manufacturing operations.

Company safety officials praised the corporation's decision to include them in the creation process of Whirlpool's newest Cleveland facility.

"It's rare that [safety and environmental staff] have the opportunity to build a brand new facility from the start and be a part of the planning stages," said Tim Edwards, manager of environment, health, and safety for Whirlpool in Cleveland.

The new Whirlpool plant maintains a temperature that is 15 degrees below the ambient temperature through the employment of massive ceiling fans with 12-foot blades, a reflective white vinyl roof, and a concrete parking lot.

"We are air cooled, but not air conditioned," said Edwards.

Safety-wise, the facility utilizes color-code piping for electricity, pressurized air, and natural gases. Employees and emergency responders can easily locate fire extinguishers and fire hose connections, which are located at red girder beams throughout the site's production areas, Edwards said.

Whirlpool seeks to promote "a culture of health," he said.

Employees begin each morning with a two-minute stretch, followed by discussion of current safety and production issues.

"We protect this house" is a team motto than decorates banners inside the facility and is reaffirmed as team cheers by the workers after their morning meetings.

The facility also seeks to minimize the effects of its processes on the world beyond the Benton Pike campus by embracing a "zero-landfill mentality," said Edwards. Measures to improve recyclability of waste include periodic examinations of garbage actually taken from the facility and deposited at the county landfill.

The use of powder-based paints for their cooking products is another step in the right direction, said Troy Spence, director of Bradley County Emergency Management Agency and interim chairman of the LEPC.

The powder-based paint system, said Edwards, reduced the plant's water processes from five or six at the old plant down to only one in the new facility.