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GE Opens Advanced Manufacturing Lab and Looks to 2015 Launch of New Breaker Line

Dec. 5, 2014

GE’s Industrial Solutions business officially opened its new Advanced Manufacturing Lab (AML) in Plainville, Conn., on Nov. 19. The AML is using 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.

“The new lab is another example of GE’s investment in the future of our electrical distribution business to better serve our customers,” said Bob Gilligan, CEO of GE’s Industrial Solutions business, in a press release. “We are making unprecedented investments in our business to deliver the global MCCB platform faster than ever before, while introducing innovative design-for-manufacturing development methods and launching a modern, advanced manufacturing plant.”

The press release said within the next 24 months GE will completely reinvent and revitalize its MCCB offering to provide a modern, comprehensive, global industrial circuit breaker portfolio. Available in 2015, GuardEon will be a platform of four frames, accessories and trip units designed and launched in less than three years — significantly faster than typical industry development time. This accelerated delivery schedule will be achieved using GE’s FastWorks methodology to speed development while incorporating continuous customer feedback throughout the design and development process.

The GuardEon product line will be built at a new Circuit Breaker Center of Excellence (COE) in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. The company has been producing circuit breakers in Puerto Rico for years and has a veteran workforce to support  the new manufacturing techniques to be used in the factory.

The company is using a bevy of state-of-the-art product development and design techniques to develop and refine the GuardEon line, including “Voice of the Customer” in the concept stage to factor in what customers would like to see in a new breaker line; outside product design specialist to help produce an attractive-looking product; and three-dimensional printers to produce prototypes of the breaker.

Much of this development is taking place in the Advanced Manufacturing Lab and the NPI Accelerator Lab in the Plainville facility. The NPI Accelerator Lab features a collaborative workspace with a machine shop, product tear-down area and 3D printing prototype production and assembly capabilities, which enables GE engineers to design, develop and deliver new products faster than ever before. In addition, GE’s High Current Test Lab offers high-voltage capabilities for on-site, quick-cycle prototype testing, ensuring products’ robust design, superior performance and standards compliance from launch date.