GE Power & Water will cease production of large gas engines at Waukesha, Wis., in favor of a new, $265-million plant it announced it will build in Canada. The specific location and start-up date for the new, “Brilliant Factory” was not revealed, but the manufacturer indicated it would be completed in 20 months.
GE’s Brilliant Factory concept involves production programs using highly networked factory equipment and computers sharing information and production data in real time, adjusting operations to maintain product quality, peak performance, and supply chain reliability.
The move to Canada follows announcements earlier this month that GE Aviation will relocate turboprop engine development to some European site, and GE Power Generation establish a new center of operations for heavy-duty gas turbines in France, and transfer 500 to 1,000 manufacturing jobs to Europe and China.
The new gas engine plant in Canada would result in 350 jobs in its first phase, according to GE. In addition to producing gas engines, it will have back-up capacity to manufacture diesel engine components for GE Transportation.
As in the other announcements, General Electric made it clear it is moving production to a new plant in in order to have access Canada’s export credit agency. ECAs are financial bodies chartered by national governments that guarantee financing for large capital projects by corporations, typically in exchange for the corporation (GE, for example) locating jobs in that country.
In each of GE’s recent announcements it has made its point that the U.S. Congress’s failure to reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import Bank on July 1 makes it responsible for the loss of jobs at GE’s domestic manufacturing plants.
“Most countries are hungry for manufacturing and export jobs,” according to GE’s announcement. “The U.S. remains the only major economy in the world without an export bank.”
GE said it had notified workers in Waukesha, where it employs about 350, and more than 400 of its U.S. suppliers of its plan to shift production to the new location.
“We believe in American manufacturing, but our customers in many cases require ECA financing for us to bid on projects. Without it, we cannot compete and our customers may be forced to select other providers,” according to John Rice, General Electric vice chairman.