Advanced manufacturing lab models future production lines

GE Industrial Solutions has opened an advanced manufacturing lab to facilitate collaboration that will help develop manufacturing methods for its future circuit breaker production line.

By General Electric December 1, 2014

GE’s Industrial Solutions has opened its advanced manufacturing lab (AML) in Plainville, Conn. The AML is using sophisticated robotics and automated manufacturing systems to design and build production lines for the new GuardEon molded case circuit breaker (MCCB) platform to be launched in 2015. GE also is building a new circuit breaker center of excellence (COE) in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, where GuardEon will be produced.

"The AML is GE’s investment in the future of our electrical distribution business," said Bob Gilligan, CEO of GE’s Industrial Solutions business. "The 8,000 sq ft area is filled with hands-on, real-world innovative manufacturing design and development tools employed by a team of advanced manufacturing engineers."

Locating this lab in Plainville facilitates collaboration between the advanced manufacturing engineers and the co-located engineering design team to enhance design-for-manufacturability at the earliest stages of product development. GE’s design, build, test, learn, modify, and repeat rhythm with in-house human and capital resources increases options for timely proof-of-concept testing and ultimately empowers delivery of better products for its customers much faster.

At the AML, GE is developing innovative manufacturing methods for GuardEon, currently the company’s most advanced MCCB, which will provide advanced safety and reliability features for industrial, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and commercial customers for whom unplanned downtime is the enemy and safety is the highest priority.

GE’s new lab models future production lines for the GuardEon circuit breaker that incorporate advanced technologies including some of the first OSHA-approved advanced manufacturing robots, using smart-response movements to help safely and intelligently work directly alongside operators in a manufacturing environment. The AML also features "moonshine" tables outfitted with programmable logic controllers and pneumatics. The tables serve as experimental design pods for inventing enhanced manufacturing operations to meet strict TAKT times, a critical measurement linking production-cycle times to customer-demand rates.

The AML is GE’s second lab opening in Plainville in just over a year. In May 2013, the company launched the NPI accelerator lab, featuring a collaborative work space with a machine shop, product tear-down area, and 3-D printing prototype production and assembly capabilities.

GE also is building a new circuit breaker center of excellence (COE) in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, where GuardEon will be produced. The COE will be a sophisticated facility that leverages the advanced manufacturing methods being developed at the AML.

– Edted by Joy Chang, digital project manager, CFE Media, jchang(at)