When it comes to manufacturing of any kind, transforming your operations and business goals to align with the digital era isn’t a sprint—it’s a marathon. It can’t be done hard and fast. It requires slow and steady changes over a long period of time. Step by step, industrial manufacturers have to look at their people, processes, and technology to determine how to remain competitive and relevant to their end customers. Addressing all these areas of your operations is the only way to succeed at digital transformation.
GE Aviation has been on its digital transformation journey for years. More specifically, its’ Muskegon campus in Michigan has recognized the importance of combining lean manufacturing processes—the practice of continuously looking to eliminate waste or inefficiencies—with digital technology. This has become even more important in the last few years with increased demand.
At the Muskegon facilities, GE Aviation manufacturers high-pressure nozzles and shrouds for both commercial and military aircraft engines. These parts are used in the hottest portion of a jet engine—making precise manufacturing critical for the best fuel burn and improving durability.
Leveraging industrial applications to help meet increased demand
Last year, with an accelerated focus on supporting production of parts for the GE LEAP engine, the Muskegon facility’s machine base grew by 32%, while its maintenance workforce only increased by 12%. In order to manage this increased demand, while stabilizing production, GE Aviation turned to an industrial application—Asset Performance Management (APM) from GE Digital.
“If we’re going to stay competitive, we need to use more of our assets, but we also need to stabilize those assets. The demand on our machine performance is ever increasing, our resources are not, so we’re having to use our subject matter expertise to try and leverage our learnings every day,” said Paul Kuipers, Maintenance and Facilities Leader, GE Aviation.
Combining domain expertise with technology
By combining their deep domain expertise with the capabilities of APM, GE Aviation has been able to monitor the health of its production assets in real-time, reduce manual work processes and re-work, and move from a schedule-based maintenance approach to condition-based.
“Being able to predictively understand our machines is one of the best benefits of using the APM solution,” said Ian Geis, Manufacturing Analytics Specialist. “We’re now able to make data-driven decisions that dig into root causes and solve our problems more proactively.”
GE Aviation’s digital transformation journey is far from over, but it’s well underway.