From the early beginnings in the 1980s, Fisher and Paykel Technologies saw an opportunity to create a simple, reliable, and easy-to-manufacture drive system that would benefit the lives of consumers.
By taking a systems-level view of the entire washing machine and considering customer pain points as well as manufacturing efficiencies, we questioned how we could create a revolutionary new drive system.
What if we could eliminate the belt drive system and replace it with a pancake style motor, providing more efficiency and reliability? Enter the concept for Direct Drive – to radically simplify the product design and reduce the number of components - making it more reliable and price-competitive. This ideology was formulated into a plan, resulting in the birth of the Direct Drive system in washing machines.
The Gentle Annie™ was introduced in 1985 as the world’s first washing machine with an electronically controlled brushless direct current motor - created by our own inventive problem solvers who challenged conventional appliance design and production systems. It would be the first washing machine with an electronic inverter.
In 1992 with the introduction of SmartDrive™, the Gentle Annie™ would be driven by a Direct Drive motor. The motor was fundamental to the development of the world’s first gearbox and belt free washing machine. With fewer moving parts, the machine was much more reliable, quiet, and with a smart control system, could sense each load for optimal performance and had water saving efficiency.
The Gentle Annie™ with SmartDrive™ technology changed the game for the better. Our team went beyond just designing a better washing machine feature, to reinventing the approach to traditional manufacturing processes.
This purposeful technology - created to improve the manufacturing and development of the system as well as to improve consumers’ lives, sparked the innovation culture that has been in the DNA of Fisher & Paykel Technologies ever since.
“Our washing machine in concept mechanically and electrically was basically very simple compared to anything that was made overseas, hence it made it very competitive.”
- Keith Ferguson, DD co-designer and inventor.
Our direct drive motors are designed to be efficient, quiet, and reliable. With over 30 years' experience in magnetic design and electric drive development, we design and manufacture direct drive motors of world-leading quality.
We have improved on our direct drive motor concept and this continuous improvement has led to optimal use of materials – promising high efficiency, low noise, and sophisticated variable speed capability.
Using our proprietary tools, we can customise our direct drive motors to fit unique specifications, requirements, and needs, creating an optimal drive solution. They can be used in a wide range of products including washing machines, fans & blowers, water pumps, hydraulic pumps, ceiling fans, and industrial mixers.
From identifying a need, to using user centred design, through to developing a world-class direct drive system, Fisher & Paykel Technologies has continually improved the motor concept and refined the direct drive system. More than 30 years of innovation, technology and insights have helped create and improve a product that not only revolutionised the industry, but set a new standard of motor technology, not only in washing machines, but many other everyday home and commercial products.