I’m not too proud to take a bribe of a beverage or two so when I was offered the chance of visiting a Miele factory with German cuisine and beer thrown in, I jumped at the chance! Bloggers from Machines that go Bing, Dust Fluff Grit, Cherrapeno and several journalists were flown over to Münster Airport where we arrived at 1.30pm. The first ‘fuel stop’ was courtesy of the Waldhaus an de Miälkwellen restaurant for a spot of lunch. Throughout the rest of the afternoon the coach meandered its way through the German countryside to the Miele Guetersloh factory.
On arriving at the factory we were greeted by The company’s head of PR, Mr. Prudent (I’m not kidding!) who gave us an introductory welcome after which we were taken to the museum and informed of the history of the company:
The History of the Miele Company
Miele was founded in 1899 by engineer Carl Miele and Reinhard Zinkann, a salesman. Together they built a company in the form of a partnership that has endured through several generations to the present day. And still the Mieles handle the manufacturing and design process and the Zinkanns, finance and sales.
Their first product was a hand-operated butter churn and a close look at it made clear the similarity between the stirring paddles of the agricultural products and the automation of primitive clothes washing methods which came later.
Early washing machines looked rather similar to the butter churns they evolved from but it wasn’t long before the transfer to metal casings and the machines started to look familiar to modern eyes.
This was especially true when consumers wanted their washing machines to fit in their kitchens or utility rooms and so the square format evolved.
Since the 1960s outward appearances haven’t changed so much but the electronics certainly have — more of that later.
Next, we needed to refuel so a trip to a local restaurant was in order.
The Professional Showroom
On our return we were taken to the show-case showroom containing a variety of Miele’s modern machinery including a cutaway version of their products such as the Hybrid below:
And this industrial washing machine:
In the showroom we were able to see a variety of products in kitchen settings such as this built-in pressure cooker:
And a few general kitchen arrangements:
The only part of the factory we were allowed to photograph was the old steam-driven electric generator which was still active in late 2000 as a backup to cover peak demand.
And a test room where detergents and are tested for effectiveness on a variety of Miele products.
Finally we were taken for a demonstration of Miele’s CAVE technology. This is an enclosed space containing a wrap-around projection screen onto which animation is projected. The audience wears 3D glasses just as if they were watching a 3D movie in a cinema. The presentation showed the company’s products being constructed and de-constructed and actually gave the impression that we were actually in the room moving around them! You can read more about this technology in Miele’s own press release.