in-house anymore, demand becomes scattered and leads
to various inefficiencies. Martin and George shared that
before implementing these wholesale changes, the plant was
struggling to hit even 60 percent on-time shipping.
“You’re setting yourself up for disaster,” Martin says
about how that sequence progressed at the plant. “So a
few things cracked the code. One was the length of time
getting an order from the customer to the shop floor, with
the help of some automation and letting 85 percent of the
orders flow directly through electronically without anybody
touching them. That was a game-changer. The other was
‘Who cares about MRP?’ Instead, be that supermarket that
has all the parts needed for the level of business you’re
expecting. It won’t be perfect, but you’re not waiting for an
order before you go get the parts for it. In theory, you’ve
George shared other improvements made alongside
the plant’s three-pronged changes to a customer-focused
operation. One was the elimination of more than 40 lift
trucks from the plant floor, which increased employee safety.
Another was moving all raised inventory down to the first
level. The plant changed from pneumatic tools to DC tools,
which increased ergonomic usability for employees.
“We completely revamped everything we did,” George
says. “That’s part of what all the money’s spent on — just
being better at all of it as we touched every area.”
Next up was enhancing the plant’s digitization. GE’s
manufacturing IT team digitized the paper packets that each
order includes, showing product drawings and building
material. The team developed a new manufacturing execution
system — MES 1.0 — followed by adding on-demand
printing for product labels and increasing the use of barcoding.
A roadway lighting fixture awaits completed
These touchscreen monitors at each assembly
station allow workers to quickly request
The GE Hendersonville plant is one of the company's nine "Brilliant" factories among its more than 500 plants
around the globe.