GE Appliances, a Haier company, announced that its Decatur, AL refrigeration plant is the best manufacturing plant in the country. It’s not boasting. It’s a fact according to Assembly Magazine whose editors recently awarded the distinction to the 2019 Assembly Plant of the Year.
In June 2018, GE Appliances announced that it would make $115 million in investments to transform the 42-year-old facility into the company’s Manufacturing Center of Excellence for top-freezer refrigerators. That investment also resulted in the creation of 255 new jobs bringing total employment to 1,300.
“I could not be prouder of the hard work and dedication of our employees that led to this honor,” said Renee Story, plant executive director for GE Appliances. “The investments we’ve made here are just one part of the story of our transformation into a manufacturing center of excellence. Every employee had a hand in helping us achieve this honor. I’m so proud of our amazing team.”
Established in 2004, The Assembly Magazine Assembly Plant of the Year Award showcases state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities that applied world-class processes to reduce production cost, increase productivity, shorten time-to-market, and improve product quality.
“The Decatur plant was selected for our award because of the way that it applied cutting-edge technology to reduce operator errors and improve productivity,” said Austin Weber, senior editor of Assembly Magazine. “We were also impressed with how the facility has invested in state-of-the-art automation, such as robotics and automated guided vehicles, to address issues related to ergonomics and material handling. GE Appliances Decatur is a leader in using data analytics and lean manufacturing principles to streamline assembly lines and improve product quality.”
Decatur utilizes data visualization, 3-D scanning, rapid prototyping and other technologies as part of its “Brilliant Factories” initiative to increase efficiency, safety and quality. Some specific examples at the Decatur plant include:
- Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGVs) – moves very heavy refrigerator doors through processes, reducing damage and eliminating worker’s ergonomic burden.
- Multi-access SCARA Robots – performs heavy lifting operations, repetitive tasks, foam and adhesive applications and other ergonomically challenging jobs.
- Copper tube bending robots – ensures consistent bending and flexibility in fabricating condenser coils and compressors.
“Being recognized by the industry in this way affirms our commitment to advanced manufacturing in the U.S.,” said Bill Good, vice president of manufacturing for GE Appliances. “Decatur is a shining example of our efforts to integrate cutting-edge technology to improve efficiency, quality and safety in Alabama and in all nine of our U.S. manufacturing plants.” GE Appliances invested more than $600 million since 2018 in new products and its nine U.S. manufacturing plants and smart distribution network.
The award is open to all manufacturers that assemble products in the U.S. Unlike many other awards, there is no entry fee and only one facility is chosen for the honor each year. The official ceremony for the Plant of the Year Award will be at Assembly Magazine’s Assembly Show in Chicago on October 23.
About GE Appliances
GE Appliances, a Haier company, creates “good things, for life” through our passion for great appliances and the happiness they can bring to every household. With the Monogram®, CAFÉ™, GE Profile™, GE®, Haier and Hotpoint brands, people have more choices for making their kitchens and homes amazing each day. Our products include refrigerators, freezers, cooking products, dishwashers, washers, dryers, air conditioners and water filtration systems.
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