Operations manager Halimah Cleveland readies the robots at GE’s futuristic new water heater facility.
New water heater factory features advanced systems and robotics
By Alan Wolf, YSN
GE Appliances has just opened what may be a prototype for the factory of the future.
The glimpse into the future of appliance manufacturing comes courtesy of the company’s state-of-the-art, $70 million water heating plant, which officially opened this month in Camden, S.C.
While appliance retailers won’t likely be stocking its output— the gas water heaters are destined for professional contractors and plumbing and HVAC wholesalers — the factory’s “Center of Excellence” designation and advanced technologies could portend what things may come in kitchen and laundry production.
GE said the new Camden plant is vertically integrated and will produce finished units starting from coils of steel. The facility features advanced systems for metal fabrication and welding, robotics for material handling and processing, and enameling of the steel, and is built for future expansion.
Underscoring its high-tech approach, more than 50 team leaders and maintenance employees completed more than 5,700 hours of training in robotics, welding and mechatronics during its construction and in preparation for launch.
“Investing in U.S. manufacturing is a winning strategy for GE Appliances bringing us even closer to our customers and enabling us to serve them better,” said Kevin Nolan, president and CEO of GE Appliances. “We’re doubling down on innovation in high-tech products, cutting-edge, advanced manufacturing, and creating American jobs.”
GE Appliances has invested $2 billion in its U.S. manufacturing and distribution operations since 2016, adding more than 3,000 new employees and creating an additional 88,000 jobs. The new plant falls under GE’s two-year-old Air & Water Solutions division, dedicated to serving the unique needs of professional contractors and wholesale distributors in the plumbing, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning industries.