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F&P Breakthrough in the USA


Home grown technology is behind the development of a new “break-through” clothes dryer to be launched by New Zealand appliance manufacturer Fisher & Paykel Appliances at a trade show in the United States next week.

The new dryer enables the machine to open at the top like most washing machines, rather than at the front. Able to run on gas or electricity, it can dry a full 8kg load from a matching washing machine in less than an hour.

Fisher & Paykel Appliances will begin selling the new product later this year. It will be available with a new matching washing machine, through its established network of more than 2000 dealers.

Managing Director John Bongard says the company has spent five years and $7 million perfecting the new concept, which no other manufacturer has been able to successfully achieve.

“For a long time we have had the notion that a top loading dryer would provide real benefits to consumers. The ergonomics of transferring heavy, damp clothes from a top loading washing machine to a front loading dryer just didn’t make sense. We also wanted to be able to dry a full washer load in the dryer.

“It sounds simple. But the stumbling block has been that a dryer drum needs to rotate horizontally, which would appear to make a top opening machine impossible. Having the drum opening available to the user when the dryer is stopped, yet having no opening while it rotates, presented some challenges," said Mr Bongard.

“Our engineering team figured out how to do this, and also how to rotate the drum forwards and backwards to give superior drying performance. It is a world first, and we have taken out full patent protection to ensure we can profit appropriately from a genuine design breakthrough achieved in New Zealand”

The new “SmartLoad” dryer is expected to be a star of the show when launched at the annual Kitchen and Bathroom Industry Show in Orlando, Florida, next week.

The new SmartLoad dryers and matching Smart Drive washing machines, will sell at the top end of the United States market with a recommended retail price for the matching pair of $US 1400.

Mr Bongard said the use of clothes dryers is much more common in the United States, where a higher proportion of people are living in apartments, and conventional outdoor clotheslines are banned on visual grounds in many areas.

“At the top end of the market consumers want a matched pair of automated, high capacity appliances standing side by side, both opening from the top, and we are the only manufacturer in the world able to offer this,” said Mr Bongard

The “SmartLoad” dryer is the fourth major technology advance to come out of Fisher & Paykel Appliances in recent times.

The three earlier advances, which have helped the company build annual export sales of more than $600 million, were the development of computerised Smart Drive technology for washing machines, the DishDrawer concept for dish washers and the Active Smartrefrigerators.

Mr Bongard says the “SmartLoad” dryers are not expected to be available in New Zealand or Australia for about 18 months, as early production will be committed to meeting initial US demands.

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