Aviation supplier opens 'brilliant' factory

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An aviation supplier in the region introduced its new $14.5-million factory this morning.

Ohio-based GE Aviation held a ribbon-cutting this morning at its new 35,000-square-foot “brilliant factory” in Norton Shores, at 6120 Norton Center Dr.

The facility will make stage-one and stage-two shrouds and nozzles for the GE90 engine and perform development work for new programs as needed.

John Bowman, general manager of supply chain for GE Aviation, said GE Aviation will build 150 new GE90 engines this year and perform 400 service visits.

The GE90 on the Boeing 777 is the world’s most-powerful jet engine, with about 2,500 engines in service and more than 67-million flight hours.

GE currently operates seven brilliant factories, with plans to double that number this year.

Bowman explained what a brilliant factory is.

“GE’s brilliant factories combine the newest technologies, from advanced analytics to 3D printing, to collaborative robots, that work side-by-side with people,” he said.

The idea behind the brilliant factory is to link design, engineering, manufacturing, supply chain, distribution and services into one intelligent system.

The system collects and analyzes data from all these disciplines to make factories smarter, combining things like sensor enablement, digital design and factory and supply chain optimization to improve quality, throughput and yield.

“Muskegon is leading the way for GE’s transformation in the way we use big data to run our plants more efficiently and effectively,” Bowman said.

Eventually, all of GE Aviation’s 80 manufacturing facilities will be brilliant facilities, according to Bowman.

GE’s new facility expands the company’s footprint in Muskegon to about 220,000 square feet total, including three buildings.

The company has already hired nearly 90 new employees toward a goal of 100 at the new facility, bringing the total to almost 800 employees across the three buildings.  

GE first announced plans to expand in Muskegon in 2016.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation provided a grant to GE for $800,000, and the City of Norton Shores provided a 50-percent property tax abatement to GE for a 12-year period.

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