Hundred of Embraco workers will very likely lose their jobs soon, because that company is moving production of its fridge compressors to Slovakia. Italian media, politicians and unions are (rightly) talking a lot of those workers. Almost nobody, however, is discussing what KIND of fridges and compressors should be produced, by Embraco or anybody else.
By moving to Slovakia Embraco, which is part of the Whirlpool group, will leave in dire straits almost 500 families. First and foremost, I believe that those 500 families should NOT be left in the streets. This said, this N-th episode of “globalization as race to the bottom” (because the one sure thing here is that Embraco and Whirlpool will leave hundreds of Slovakian workers in the streets too, as soon as they find an even cheaper country), should also be the occasion for serious discussion of a strictly related issue:
Embraco will make in Slovacchia the SAME fridge compressors as today
Embraco may move to Slovakia or stay in Italy, but in both cases it will continue to produce the same components, designed with the same main goal of today: maximize profits from sales and monopolistic maintenance of appliances, insted of the durability of the same appliances (of course, the same critique is true for any commercial appliance, by any manufacturer).
Appliances designed for Programmed Obsolescence are a BIG problem. Wherever you make them
The social and environmental costs of programmed obsolescence are higher, at least in the medium/long term, of those of lost jobs. In the current world, appliances, or any other product, should be designed giving to “make them last DECADES” by means of modular design, and ease of maintenance with generic parts, at least the same priority as energy efficiency. THAT is real innovation, not the “smart” fridges that can order eggs online for you, because they notice that the egg tray is empty. Or the fridges that consume 20% less than your current one, but must be dumped ten years later, if you want to reduce your energy bill even more.
Fridge compressors? Make them wherever you want, as long as they are Open Hardware
As you can see here and here, the current state of the art of Open Source refrigeration systems is quite behind that of the patents-filled ones by Embraco and other corporations. But it is already possible to design appliances like this “washer that lasts FIFTY YEARS”:
and this year we can also crowfund a project to design, with the same criteria of TRUE innovation and protection of consumers and environment, several appliances:
These days, state aids in every country should go above all, if not exclusively, to whoever designs and makes appliances in THAT way.