At the Sharp end
Simon King visits the million-square-metre Vestel factory in Turkey to find out more about its partnership with Sharp Home Appliances and gets a preview of smart products it will be launching next month at IFA in Berlin
For the first time ever, Vestel recently invited a small group of European journalists to Turkey to find out more about its partnership with Sharp Home Appliances.
Vestel and Sharp have been technology partners since 2004, but in 2014, the two companies took it a stage further, collaborating on a new home-appliance range as well as a fresh approach.
Alberico Lissoni (pictured), European sales and marketing director of Sharp Home Appliances, said the Sharp/Vestel partnership brings together the innovation, design and brand heritage of Sharp with the manufacturing might and expertise of technology giant Vestel.
Vestel is one of the top 10 producers of white goods in Europe. Vestel City, its 1.1 million square metre R&D and manufacturing complex in Manisa, Turkey, is capable of producing 30 million units a year. Vestel makes one new dishwasher every 30 seconds, a new oven every 42 seconds and in 2016, it made 2.2m washing machines.
Equipped with advanced robotics, the plant draws on the expertise of 1,400 R&D engineers, who control the design process from drawing board to production line.
Mr Lissoni said: “Vestel is committed to building on Sharp’s world-renowned reputation and all the home appliances in the range reflect the high quality and reliability for which this brand has become a household name. Our products only receive approval if they meet Sharp’s stringent standards.”
Although it is early days for the new Sharp Home Appliances business, the company has already introduced some world-leading appliances, such as the ThermoJet+ 8kg washing machine.
Mr Lissoni said: “One of the most energy-efficient laundry appliances to date, it consumes up to 70 per cent less energy than other A+++ rated models.”
In dishwashing, Sharp developed a 14 place-setting dishwasher that costs as little to run as €3.50 a month, with a number of innovative features, including AquaGlide – adjustable funnels to channel and direct the water flow.
'Vestel is committed to building on Sharp’s world-renowned reputation and all the home appliances in the range reflect the high quality and reliability for which this brand has become a household name'
The Karakuri fridge-freezer, meanwhile, comes with a built-in water dispenser that only appears when a cup is detected to protect against germs.
Mr Lissoni added: “This fridge-freezer also ensures that ice can be customised to suit a wider variety of drinks, producing ice cubes up to 45 minutes faster than other fridge-freezers.”
Another key area of development for Sharp is appliance noise performance – an important issue now that open-plan kitchens that merge into the living area have grown in popularity.
Mr Lissoni said that 40 per cent of Europe is still exposed to sound levels over 55dB, which he pointed out is louder than the sound of continuous light traffic flow.
Mr Lissoni said: “Historically, home appliance manufacturers have been a part of the problem. Even now, the average washing machine sound level is around 60dB – that’s louder than most normal conversations.”
He said that Sharp Home Appliances is tapping into demand for hi-tech, low-noise products, with its new quiet range.
Mr Lissoni said: “Awarded the Quiet Mark, the range includes a 36dB double French door fridge-freezer, a 39dB dishwasher as well as the world’s quietest oven (rated at 35dB) and washing machine (operating at just 39dB).”
IFA debut for first smart products
At next month’s IFA show in Berlin, Sharp Home Appliances will launch its first smart products, backed by “an unprecedented after-sales experience”.
Alberico Lissoni, European sales and marketing director of Sharp Home Appliances, said: “Although the global installed base of smart-home devices is estimated to be around 165 million, wi-fi-enabled technology has still not achieved mainstream appeal. Making smart technology a must-have innovation for life at home, Sharp is pushing the boundaries of IoT with an innovative series of wi-fi-enabled appliances. Designed to offer a more inclusive and meaningful home service, this range supports a greater variety of lifestyles, appealing to everyone from cooking enthusiasts and home entertainers to busy professionals and novice cooks.”
Encompassing an oven, fridge-freezer, dishwasher and washing machine, this smart range sends out product notifications for day-to-day life, but also, should anything go wrong, alerts the Sharp customer service team. These enable Sharp to identify the issue, giving them all the information they need to phone the customer and arrange an engineer visit. To use this service, consumers have to download the app and register their contact details as well as their product serial numbers.
•IFA will take place at Messe Berlin, Germany from September 1 to 6.