According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, on April 16, GE, “[…] announced its first micro-factory, FirstBuild(TM), will be in Louisville, Ky., GE Appliances’ headquarters. This follows the March 13, 2014, announcement that GE is partnering with Local Motors, the open-source hardware innovator, to create a new model for the manufacturing industry.”Although the location is still under construction, the micro-factory is slated to create some of GE’s currently largest appliances; in addition, the new unit will make way for other innovative engineering opportunities.
In particular, the facility will serve as a primary site for University of Kentucky students to receive hands-on engineering and manufacturing experience.
In conjunction with Local Motors, GE also partnered with the company Quirky. Of the partnership, CNET notes, “GE provided Quirky with a collection of patents to develop its library and in turn, Quirky puts a GE logo on whatever inventions make it to market from that shared patent cache. The earliest products from the duo — a plastic carton that lets you know if your eggs have gone bad.”
The patent sharing and universal innovation strategy should take GE’s micro-factory model to the global level.
According to the April 16 GE press release, “The new FirstBuild community will focus on the future of cooking as its first set of projects. It will provide a platform for a global community of innovators to prototype, iterate and refine existing GE products, as well as surface new designs. Local community members will be encouraged to work alongside FirstBuild employees to bring the community designs to life at the East Brandeis Avenue micro-factory location.”
In this way, the GE micro-factory’s doors are virtually opened to engineers, entrepreneurs, and manufacturers around the world.
GE is committed to a far-reaching global economy and remains one of the world’s largest manufacturers of appliances and other high-tech items. GE currently holds offices and manufacturing plants in more than 160 countries.