UofL, GE Appliances collaborate on advanced manufacturing hub that will support student and micro-factory projects
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 16, 2014) — GE today announced its first micro-factory, FirstBuild, will be in Louisville, Ky., at GE Appliances’ headquarters. This follows the March 1, announcement that GE is partnering with Local Motors, the open-source hardware innovator, to create a new model for the manufacturing industry.
“To win in the appliance industry, we have to innovate faster than ever before since we are now competing with companies that apply their rapid electronic products introduction strategy to the appliance industry,” said Kevin Nolan, GE Appliances’ vice president of technology. “This new model will enable us to be more creative in the design and delivery of the products, and do so with lower risk and cost while drastically reducing the time from mind to market. FirstBuild will also enable us to move select products to larger scale production with more confidence because they will have been vetted by the new platform first.”
The new FirstBuild micro-factory will be located on the University of Louisville (UofL) Belknap Campus and will officially open this summer. It will harness the power of an open platform and a global co-creation community to power micro-manufacturing capabilities to accelerate the introduction of the products consumers want, when they want them. The location will also enable easy access for engineering, advanced manufacturing and other student activities to build a strong local network of on-site community members.
“Today, America is searching to define its new manufacturing soul,” said Jay Rogers, CEO of Local Motors. “Many people assume this industrial reinvigoration will come out of the tech hubs of San Francisco, Boston, or New York. Trends such as micro-manufacturing powered by co-creation, however, as well as the industrial Internet are showing us that cities like Louisville can again be leaders in the Third Industrial Revolution. FirstBuild is showing us that it is happening right now.”
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.
“We selected Louisville for the first micro-factory because of the strong collaborative innovation and entrepreneurial spirit that is nurtured by the UofL and our city government,” said Nolan. “It is also important to be close to GE Appliances’ design and engineering teams to ensure real-time iteration as small batch production of community designs are transitioned to larger scale production.”
UofL, which owns the building where FirstBuild will be housed, will be much more involved than a typical landlord. UofL and GE Appliances have plans to create an Advanced Manufacturing hub where students can conduct research while getting practical training on the latest additive manufacturing and technologies in the micro-factory setting.
“The University of Louisville is excited to be expanding our collaboration with GE,” said UofL President James Ramsey. “Together, we’re finding new ways to grow technologies and our economy while giving our students real-world engineering experiences.”
FirstBuild employees and on-site community members will use social media tools daily to keep community members around the world appraised of the progress being made at the facility on the designs they helped to create. To become a community member or for more information, visit firstbuild.com.