GE (www.ge.com) recently celebrated the June 9 grand opening of the new advanced manufacturing and customer experience center in its Mebane, NC facility — a Carolina Star-certified plant. GE leaders and customers throughout the United States and Canada were joined by state and local government representatives and the media for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
GE’s $6 million investment, including the customer experience center and advanced manufacturing labs, will enable GE to accelerate product development by up to 30 percent. The Mebane facility’s open, high-tech work environment combines engineering, development, testing and manufacturing in a centralized location. This will enable teams to work together to better serve the global customer base and deliver products in simpler, smarter and faster ways.
“GE is laser-focused on investing in its global industrial portfolio,” said Bob Gilligan, CEO, GE’s Industrial Solutions business. “The grand opening of our customer experience center and labs enables us to more closely collaborate with our customers and incorporate their feedback early on in the product development process through FastWorks methodologies, ensuring that we are designing the right products to meet customer demand at an accelerated pace.”
GE’s Mebane operation features approximately 360,000 square feet of manufacturing floor space, 11,500 square feet of advanced labs and 30,000 square feet of offices, showrooms and training facilities.
“GE’s 43-year presence in North Carolina speaks volumes about the company’s commitment to the state and its workforce,” said Governor Pat McCrory. “This latest investment reinforces GE’s desire to continue to be a strong part of North Carolina’s economy.
In addition, the site will serve as a new regional customer experience center where customers will be invited to interact with GE’s latest electrical distribution, controls and critical power products and to share real-time feedback throughout the development process. The enhanced facility includes:
- Low- and Medium-Voltage IEEE Product Certification Lab. The lab will comply with IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and international equipment testing standards to gain third-party approvals, saving both time and costs in the development process. GE will be able to perform third-party certifications such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories), TUV-GS testing (Technischer Überwachungsverein) and KEMA testing.
- Product Accelerator Lab. This lab will help improve new product design processes, speeding up development times with 3-D printing and rapid prototyping. By incorporating GE’s FastWorks methodologies, the lab unites customers and engineering teams in an atmosphere that allows for fast, hands-on feedback throughout the development process.
- Interactive, global product showroom to engage customers in developing products and technology while learning about GE’s problem-solving commercial and industrial solutions.
- Customer and Employee Learning Center. The center provides a resource for customers and employees to continue to learn about GE’s new product introductions, lean manufacturing and advanced processes.
Mebane is a manufacturing center of excellence for GE’s industrial equipment business. The facility manufactures and assembles low- and medium-voltage motor control centers, lighting panels, switchboards, power panels, controls, automatic transfer switches and electrical vehicle supply equipment serving a global customer base of commercial, industrial and mission-critical customers such as hospitals, data centers, banks and wind farms.
“Mebane is one of our global centers of excellence for equipment, and I’m thrilled we’ve strengthened our technical capabilities in the U.S.,” said Stuart Thompson, power equipment general manager, GE’s Industrial Solutions business. “These investments will help us to bring electrical distribution, controls and mission-critical products to fruition faster with more agility, supporting GE’s mission of inventing the next industrial era.”
The Mebane site is utilizing resources such as advanced and automated manufacturing techniques, 3-D printing, and in-house product certification to improve the overall product development process.
“Our Mebane facility is home to an extremely talented, hardworking and energetic team of more than 500 employees,” said Jeff Blakeman, GE’s Mebane plant manager. “Employees will benefit from the site’s contemporary layout, learning center and open workplace concept, fostering a new level of collaboration, providing employees with a chance to enhance their skill sets. With these recent investments, we are able to build on the 43-year tradition of GE in Mebane and equip employees with an innovative environment that encourages outside-of-the-box thinking.”
The celebrations began on June 6, when employees and their families gathered at the facility for an open house, showcasing the new high-tech, collaborative environment.