GE Goes Lean In Louisville

This very interesting article about GE Appliances' new hybrid water heater manufacturing facility in Louisville, Kentucky was just posted on the BuildingOnline site yesterday. Other than the potential to create 1,300 jobs in the USA by 2014, this facility has the distinction of producing the first GE Appliances' product -- the GeoSpring™ Hybrid Water Heater -- "designed and built using Lean manufacturing principles."

Although the piece mainly focuses on the benefits of the new product, it does point out that the that Lean initiative there"uses a cross-functional team of employees - including hourly manufacturing workers - to design the product and the manufacturing process." I'd actually be quite interested to hear more about the leadership and strategy that exists within the facility because these are the areas that sustain the initiative for the long term. It's up to the leadership now -- right at the beginning -- to build and hone the continuous-improvement culture throughout all areas of the facility. The application of some waste-reducing tools will generate some initial improvements and foster teamwork, of course, but it's the example set from "top down" that reduces that risk of the initiative stalling after a short period.

What do you think of GE Appliances' plans for this new facility? What do you think will be the key factors to a successful Lean system at this new manufacturing plant?

Here's a GE-produced video that focuses on the collaboration and teamwork at this facility: