Posted By Paul Tate, February 17, 2015 at 10:03 AM, in Category: Factories of the Future
While GE is actively seeking to reshore some of its production back home to the U.S. –– water heaters and refrigerators for example –– the company also has its sights clearly set on expanding into new markets around the world.
Last weekend, GE officially inaugurated an expansion to its 67-acre manufacturing plant in Chakan, near the western city of Pune in India, in the presence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The multi-purpose plant will produce a range of GE products for the local aviation, rail, oil and gas, and diesel engine markets. But it will also act as an export hub, shipping around half of its output to the company’s network of global factories outside India, said GE.
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the new plant is that part of the $200 million GE has invested in the facility is focused on creating what GE calls a ‘Brilliant Factory’ – a highly-digitized, flexible, connected production environment able to switch effectively between different product lines.
“The brilliant factory is more than 3D printing parts from digital files, which we already do,” said Christine Furstoss, global technology director at GE Global Research. “We can build a factory that can make itself better.”
According to GE, the plant will be among the first test beds for GE’s Industrial Internet platform and Brilliant Factory concept, which envisages machines and tools communicating with managers and between each other in real-time, helping to improve quality, prevent failures and downtime, and connect with extended supply, distribution and service networks.
The new plant’s 15,000 employees are then expected to be able to easily share production lines, support infrastructure and advanced equipment like 3D printers and laser inspection technology as they create different ranges of products for four different GE business groups.
“The plant will allow us to quickly adjust production as demand comes in, using the same people and space,” commented Banmali Agrawala, president of CEO of GE South Asia, in a GE report.
“The multi-modal plant,” he added, “…will give us a chance to invest in the right tools, processes and training, keep our machines utilized, and develop new products faster and cheaper. It will also give a chance to experiment and try new things.”
Written by Paul Tate
Paul Tate is Research Director and Executive Editor with Frost & Sullivan's Manufacturing Leadership Council. He also directs the Manufacturing Leadership Council's Board of Governors, the Council's annual Critical Issues Agenda, and the Manufacturing Leadership Research Panel. Follow us on Twitter: @MfgExecutive