GE Power opened its first advanced manufacturing facility Friday in Greenville, a 125,000-square-foot research and development center announced two years ago as a part of a $400 million investment in the Upstate.
The new facility aims to boost efficiency and lifecycle length across GE Power’s product portfolio with new materials research, rapid prototyping, additive manufacturing, robotics, automation and software platform development. The facility could also become a model for other facilities in the future, according to leaders.
“Today is all about opening up the next era of advanced manufacturing,” GE Power CEO and President Steve Bolze told reporters on the facility floor. “This has relevance not only in the U.S., but for the world. Greenville has always been the heart of our business, and especially gas turbine manufacturing, going back to 1968.”
The facility includes office, lab and manufacturing space, and uses large windows, a series of visible manufacturing pods and a two-story customer experience center to showcase development efforts to potential customers. Around 70 percent of production out of the Greenville campus is shipped overseas, according to leaders.
The event follows the opening of GE Power’s additive manufacturing plant in Pittsburgh – part of a $39 million investment – as well as GE’s $10.6 billion, 60,000-employee acquisition of Alstom Power’s power and grid businesses. The November acquisition was the largest in GE’s history, and will bring GE Power to 65,000 employees and $30 billion in annual revenues.
Bolze said the Alstom acquisition brought GE Power’s global electric generation market share from around 25 percent to more than 35 percent, and allows GE to work on nearly all components of a power plant.
Advanced Manufacturing Works will focus primarily on GE Power’s gas turbine business, but will affect other verticals such as wind and power. The facility will also support GE’s drive to incorporate the Internet of Things with industrial manufacturing processes, part of the company’s push to become a digital industrial company, said Bolze.
“Most of the company is still very physical, hard assets with services that go with them. That’s how the company grew up,” he said. “What’s going on right now is the merger of the physical and manufacturing worlds with the digital world. … Today, as a company, we have more than $4 billion in revenue from software.”
GE’s Greenville operations have grown from a 340,000-square-foot site in 1968 to 1.7 million square feet and 3,200 employees today. GE Power is the company’s largest industrial business with power generation, energy delivery and water process technologies. The company’s energy business includes products and services with coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, wind, solar, biogas and alternative fuels.
“This facility is not revenue-based, it’s a development lab supporting what goes into our existing manufacturing,” said Bolze. “All of the work done here will have relevance throughout the company.”
Governor Nikki Haley, GE leaders, local elected officials and company employees attended the grand opening. GE has invested around $73 million in the facility to date, and plans to invest an additional $327 million across the Greenville campus during the next several years.