GE’s New Take on Manufacturing

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Welland has been known for decades as the city where rails meet the water. But the Canadian transportation hub will be forever changed with the recent ground breaking of General Electrics brand new “Brilliant” factory. GE Canada recently broke ground on one of the most exciting manufacturing developments to occur in the country in years when they chose Welland as the home to a facility that will manufacture GE Power’s reciprocating gas engines, components for compression, mechanical drive, and power generation, and manufacture components for GE transportation diesel engines. The multi-modal design enables future production expansion for other GE global businesses including power, oil & gas, and transportation.

Beginning in 2018, the new plant will build reciprocating gas engines used in power generation, as well as components that can be used in diesel engines for locomotives.

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GE says the new factory will employ 220 highly skilled workers to start. A variety of factors played a role in attracting GE to the Niagara region comments Alan Caslin, Chair of Niagara region.

“GE’s significant investment in the Niagara region closely aligns with Regional Council’s actions to foster an environment for economic prosperity. By waiving industrial development charges and providing incentives through our Gateway Economic Zone we were the best choice”. In addition to the financial support from the Region, Elyse Allan, president and chief executive of GE Canada sites the financial incentives from the City of Welland, grants by the Province of Ontario up to $26.55 million and support from Canada’s export credit agency, Export Development Canada(EDC) as a key to the decision to build in Welland. “In part, we were looking at Canada because of the great relationship that we have with EDC.” Allan was quick to point out that in addition to the financial incentives, “We were really fortunate in that Welland had both the site that suited our needs coupled with access to a highly skilled workforce,” Allan said.

“Welland’s development team worked cohesively to quickly respond to and positively address issues in the negotiation process that concluded with GE locating within the municipality. The cross functional team, with a “single point of contact” approach also ensures extremely quick turnaround on permits and other requirements that make the construction process fast and efficient. This along with collaboration between the city, the Region, Niagara College and a variety of provincial ministries and personnel played an important role in attracting GE to Welland and Niagara” stated Welland Mayor Frank Campion.

This factory will be highly innovative, “We can get real time data and actually be monitoring live and adjust performance in real time to ensure that we’re getting optimum quality and performance from the plant,” Allan said.

The factory uses GE’s Predix software platform to stream data (over secure Industrial Internet links) into the cloud for analysis. Insights are then sent back to engineers with suggestions to improve operations. The divide between the lab and the factory also disappears in this approach, allowing for faster prototyping and commercialization of parts.

Data and analytics will give them insights to improve quality output and increase profits. The new approach will also shorten supply chains and reduced inventories.

At first, the plant will employ approximately 220 people but Allan is optimistic that it will eventually be much bigger than that.

“We are working with all our other businesses to see who else might want to come to this site,” she said. “We have space on the site to both expand the building that we’re in as well as build a whole other additional building”.

Overall this is nothing but great news for the Niagara region, “our Council supports GE’s continued success as they create new high-skilled jobs for Niagara residents and growth opportunities for local supply chain partners.” says Alan Caslin.