GE Power opens $73m advanced manufacturing facility

GE Power has opened a new advanced manufacturing facility in the US to serve its global supply chain.

The $73m Advanced Manufacturing Works is located at the company’s Greenville campus in South Carolina, adjacent to its largest gas turbine manufacturing plant.

The facility will produce components for gas turbines, wind turbines and diesel and gas engines for sale worldwide. Kurt Goodwin, general manager of the facility, elaborated during a press call on Friday. Speaking from Greenville, he said the facility would focus on “gas turbine buckets or blades, shrouds, compressor blades and combustor parts” for GE’s gas turbine business. “For wind turbines, it’s wind turbine blades. For diesel engines and gas reciprocating engines it’s cylinder heads.”

GE Power’s president and CEO Steve Bolze said the facility will use new manufacturing technologies “from 3D printing to advanced composite materials to rapid prototyping to robotics” in order to shorten the timeframe between R&D breakthroughs and commercialization. à‚ 

Bolze said the move is “all about unlocking a new era of advanced manufacturing” and that the facility represents “a merger between the physical world of hard assets and the new digital world”.

He said GE Power plans to invest over $300m in the Greenville campus over the next 10 years. “We need a dedicated factory to do innovation and to be right next to the Advanced Manufacturing facility such that you can cut in the technology as fast as you can,” he said.

And he noted that “over 70 per cent of what we manufacture here gets shipped around the world.”

According to Goodwin, the largest driver for construction of the facility was “speed to market and the need for change and upgrade. We could develop these technologies, but we need to do it faster and we need to be able to cut them into the product line as quickly as possible.”

Jeff Connelly, vice-president at GE Power & Water, added that “having a dedicated facility is the real benefit here. Any time you try to develop something new, whether it’s in the physical world or the digital world, without a facility like this you’re breaking into everyday production processes in our factories, and that’s not efficient for the development side and it’s not efficient for our production teams either.

“So pulling it out of our factories [and] setting up a 21st century, state-of-the-art facility where a lot of iteration can go on in real time will deliver these capabilities back to our factories faster with higher quality. It’s just going to make our entire processes run better and faster, and that’s really what it’s all about so we’re very excited.”

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