GE Power on Friday opened its first advanced manufacturing facility in Greenville, SC as a way to prototype products, develop new processes and parts and move them out to broader facilities.
Kurt Goodwin, general manager of Advanced Manufacturing Works, said the plant is a first installment of an investment designed to speed time to market. "We develop and pass on to other factories process, learnings and inventions," said Goodwin.
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In other words, the Advanced Manufacturing Works, is GE's Google X effort for industry. "It's a place where you prove out new technologies, work it in the lab and scale it for the whole company," said CIO Clay Johnson, who joined GE Power from Boeing 18 months ago.
To date, GE has invested $73 million in the Greenville facility with another $327 million on tap. The facility will have 80 new engineering and manufacturing experts. The hope is that GE Power will speed up its research and development and commercialization efforts. GE recently opened an additive manufacturing facility in Pittsburgh.
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As for the technology inside the plant, there are a mix of 3D printing and additive manufacturing systems, direct metal laser machines and everything from sensors to Internet of things tools. Underpinning the data flow and large files is GE's internal cloud.
Via sensors and digital representations of prototypes, GE Power is hoping it can create parts quickly. If successful, GE Power's Advanced Manufacturing Works will use material science, 3D printing, advanced software, automation and robotics to revamp its processes.