GE Appliances has unveiled its $125 million investment at its refrigeration plant in Decatur. The investment boosted production capacity by 25 percent and ensures early compliance with 2022 refrigerant changes, making the plant a super site for GE Appliances top-freezer refrigeration production. The expansion, which was originally announced in 2018, created 255 new jobs, bringing total employment at the site 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. “Smart factories help us better connect with the consumer by creating a digital thread from the moment the appliance goes into production. 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.”
The Decatur site’s latest technology additions include data visualization, 3-D scanning, rapid prototyping and other “smart” automation that provides real-time data to the team. Included in these functions are:
- Auto Guided Vehicles, which move materials throughout the assembly processes, reducing damage and eliminating ergonomic issues.
- Fifty robots that perform heavy lifting operations, repetitive tasks and other precise jobs.
- The newest and most advanced fabrication equipment builds a steel refrigerator case in seconds.
- Common product architecture and redesigned assembly line, which gives the plant the flexibility to build different models to meet customer demand.
The plant’s progress has already been noticed. It won the 2019 Assembly Plant of the Year by Assembly Magazine. “Adding technology and increased production capability helped our already amazing team move manufacturing to the next level,” said Renee Story, plant executive director for GE Appliances.
In addition to the plant upgrades, many of the employees also received special attention in the form of additional training on hydraulics and programmable logic controllers.
GE’s Decatur plant is Morgan County’s largest single location employer. The plant does approximately $58 million in business with suppliers across Alabama. Over the next five years, the Decatur plant is expected to increase its annual economic impact on the state.