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GE Appliances recently announced the completion of its refrigeration plant in Decatur, Alabama, including several Industry 4.0 additions such as data visualization, 3D scanning, rapid prototyping and other smart automation.
The company’s $125 million investment in the facility has boosted production capacity by 25 percent and ensures early compliance with 2022 refrigerant changes. The expansion has also created 255 new jobs, bringing total employment at the plant to 1,300.
“Decatur is a great example of how we are infusing digitization and other new technologies to improve safety, quality and manufacturing efficiency in our nine U.S. factories,” said Bill Good, vice president of supply chain for GE Appliances. “We can monitor the production lines from anywhere and pinpoint issues quickly, allowing for production to continue smoothly and efficiently, ensuring we surpass our consumers’ expectations of supply chain speed and reliability.”
Auto-guided vehicles (AGVs) are now deployed at the plant to move materials throughout assembly processes, reducing damage and eliminating ergonomic issues. In addition, more than 50 robots perform heavy lifting operations, repetitive tasks and other precise or ergonomically challenging jobs. The plant’s new common product architecture and redesigned assembly lines also give it the flexibility to build many different size models to meet shifting customer demand.
GE Appliances has also paid special attention to talent and workforce development to help employees operate the advanced manufacturing machinery and equipment. From partnering with the Alabama Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (ALFAME) to conducting hydraulics training through a local supplier to implementing onsite training for programmable logic controllers, educating and developing employees to thrive in this modern manufacturing facility has been a priority.
“The company’s generous investment helped transform this 42-year-old facility into a manufacturing center of excellence for top-freezer refrigerators,” said Renee Story, plant executive director for GE Appliances. “Adding technology and increased production capability helped our already amazing team move manufacturing to the next level.”
For more information, visit www.geappliances.com.