As part of a corporate energy efficiency and environmental responsibility initiative, Whirlpool Corporation’s Findlay, Ohio, dishwasher-manufacturing facility has made great strides to reduce its overall energy use. A specific project – to add new, higher efficiency cooling towers and pumps – would provide the plant with greater control of their utilities during high and low usage days.


GEM Inc. was called on to help with the cooling tower project when the bids for the initial design came back too high to make the addition feasible. Using the GEM Process Solutions (GPS) method of design/build for process manufacturing, we led the Whirlpool/engineering team in re-evaluating how the design could be done more affordably, but still meet the facility’s needs for cooling capacity expansion.

Preconstruction planning helps evolve the current production process

The preconstruction phase is critical to the GPS system as the design is driven by the specific or unique manufacturing process. Everything else — building envelope, engineering, construction and materials — evolves from there. We reviewed the Whirlpool facility’s daily process needs and reviewed where the old cooling tower and pumps were housed and their current efficiency. We brainstormed new location possibilities that could enable the project to go forward within the budget, and allow for future expansion as well. Rather than an entirely new addition for the cooling towers and pumps — which would have involved major demolition — GEM orchestrated a solution that involved minimal demolition and construction, resulting in a savings over $1.5 million.

Extra Savings directly benefits additional projects

The final Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) was established below the original construction bid and provided equal capacity. With some of the extra savings, Whirlpool was able to purchase new variable frequency drives for all of the pump motors, as well as fund other projects.