GE’s 'Brilliant Factory'

GE is all about efficiency. You can innovate, manufacture, and export more if you are efficient. Since its founding in the 18th century, GE’s efficiency has turned them into a company of relentless innovation in businesses, aviation, healthcare, and renewable energy.

This leads us to the Brilliant Factory.

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A Brilliant Factory is GE’s marshal of innovation. It is powered with automation and a workforce that continues to evolve on their own, creating an efficient system that allows the company to manufacture and export large quantity and quality products.

A quick little trivia: In the Philippines, the first electrical lightbulbs that were installed in Intramuros was actually a GE product. In later years, GE developed the first US jet engine for commercial aviation in 1946, a technology called the axial flow compressor, which is being used in every modern jet engine and gas turbine today. Then in 1976, GE made a breakthrough in healthcare technology as the invention of a “rotate-only” CT scanner, along with the pocket-sized ultrasound called the Vscan. In a more contemporary setting, GE developed Predix, an operating platform that allows the company to gather data and analyze them and use it on how to improve company efficiency.

“Among these notable innovations is the Haiphong Factory, tagged one one of the most world’s Brilliant Factories with its advance manufacturing technology and digital efficiency,” said Wouter van Wersch, President and CEO of GE Asia Pacific.

GE’s Haiphong multimodal factory has produced and exported more than 6,000 units of generator system to date and reached more than $1 billion annual exports. And despite the increase of automation and robotics used in the Brilliant Factory, GE continues to house over 1,000 employees.

According to GE, a major part of the GE’s success with the Brilliant Factory is the young workforce. GE said that their workforce is “very adaptive” and “very willing to learn.” They see automation and robotics not as replacements for humans but as supplements to assist the workforce, allowing the company to be more efficient.

Olivier Fontan, vice president for global supply chain at GE Renewable Energy, discusses the Brilliant Factory. Olivier Fontan, vice president for global supply chain at GE Renewable Energy, discusses the Brilliant Factory.

To build the Brilliant Factory GE admits the cost was big. However, they believe in the long run, the investment will pay off. To transform their factory in a “Brilliant Factory,” GE invested in improving infrastructure, IT, and good broadband. They’ve invested on smart technology and software. It is integral for the human workforce learn how to use these technologies.

One of example is using a robot that delivers the tools and components that a human assembler would need precisely on that time. To elaborate on this a little bit, there is a countdown monitor to guide the human assemblers. At a certain timeframe the first phase of the machine they are assembling must be complete, so they can pick up the next component from the robot as it moves around.

“It is a long and challenging journey to transform and develop a Brilliant Factory,” said Trang Vu, General Manager of GE’s Haiphong Factory. “We have very strong targets in terms of product and service quality, implementing advanced manufacturing technologies and a sustainable improvement culture.”

With digital tools, GE analyzes various functionalities, such as materials use and operators. This will allow GE to re-arrange and re-structure their workers for efficiency in manufacturing products.

One of the technologies GE is interested in is 3D printing. With 3D printing, they are able to produce components at a lower cost and will still be able to produce a component despite of it being old.

With a Brilliant Factory, GE believes they will be able to save up to 50% of the product development and reduce inventory about 20% while keeping up the productivity with an additional 20%.

The Brilliant Factory revolves around the core pillars.

Lean manufacturing: With the use of data analysis, the processes and workflows of making machines are constantly optimized and refined.

Digital maturity: All machines in the factory are connected via Predix to deliver the best efficiency and performance.

Advanced manufacturing: Augmented reality and virtual reality are some of the advanced technologies being used to enable manufacturing at unpredecented levels of quality.

Additive manufacturing: The innovative technology allows GE to create complex internal geometries that would be impossible with traditional manufacturing processes, creating parts with improved performance.

“The Haiphong Brilliant Factory is an example of how GE’s innovations can help us unlock goals that previously were impossible. With world’s most effective machines, advanced technologies and extensive solutions, GE affirms its position as the global leader in innovation, contributing greatly to the transformational impact on the economy and people’s life not only in Vietnam but also in the Asia Pacific and all around the world,” said Wouter.