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GE Makes $150 Million Dishwasher Investment

August 24, 2012

GE is looking at how products and manufacturing are changing. To make the most out of an $800 million investment and to revitalize its business and products, the company is making changes at its Appliance Park manufacturing operation in Louisville, KY.

GE has made a $150 million dishwasher investment, which includes newly designed products and manufacturing processes, as well as insourcing of a large amount of components.
 
“We are in a very competitive industry. We have to offer consumers innovative, quality products and be able to sell them at a competitive price,” said Cynthia Fanning, product general manager for dishwashers at GE Appliances. “To be competitive, we have to look for every opportunity to improve efficiencies and productivity while increasing quality. Lean manufacturing principles have improved every aspect of our processes.”
 
The dishwasher Lean team came up with solutions to reduce production time and improve the process and work environment for workers. To help accomplish their goals, the team reduced the size of the new dishwasher lines by more than 50 percent, which streamlined production time, increased efficiency and improved quality. Transportation time was also significantly decreased within the plant by repositioning the new assembly lines in the back of the factory closer to staging areas for parts. The company included input from production workers when designing workstations and deciding processes to improve ergonomics. As a result, the overall production time per unit was reduced by about 65 percent.

“Before we implemented Lean, it was hard to address issues real-time,” said Dwight Young, Lean team leader. “Now we are there to listen to the operators. When they identify a problem, we are right there to help fix the issue, so it doesn’t have to be addressed later in the process. Lean gives all of us an opportunity to make more of a contribution, to improve quality and productivity, which makes us feel good, more valued.”
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