This New GE Factory Is A Blueprint For The Future Of Manufacturing
Welland has been known for decades as the city where the rails meet the water. But the Canadian transportation hub, notable for a canal that links Lake Ontario and Lake Erie with a cluster of railways, may soon redefine how we make things. That’s because GE broke ground on Friday on its latest "brilliant" factory here. It will be located just across the Canadian border from Buffalo, New York.
The brilliant factory is GE’s new take on manufacturing. It involves machines that are embedded with sensors and connected to the Industrial Internet. The factory uses GE’s Predix software platform to stream data—over secure links—into the cloud for analysis. Insights are then sent back to engineers with suggestions on how to improve operations. The divide between the lab and the factory also disappears in this approach, allowing for faster prototyping and commercialization of parts, according to Stephan Biller, chief manufacturing scientist at GE Global Research.
Biller is one of the big brains behind the brilliant factory concept. He’s developing new ways to use data and analytics to transform factories into places that are constantly improving their operations and output . As a result, Biller says, factories no longer need to be located where labor is cheap, but can bloom where educated workers can make the most out of advanced technology. “By utilizing automation and the brilliant factory concepts, we are strengthening the base of North American manufacturing and equalizing the region’s ability to compete with countries where labor costs are cheaper,” Biller says.
Welland makes a big point in his case. The city is located in Canada’s Ontario province where the manufacturing sector has been hit hard in recent years. It lost some 300,000 jobs between 2000 and 2014, according to a 2014 report by the Mowat Center at the University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy and Governance. The report says that Canada can bring back jobs by supporting research, educating workers and committing to boosting productivity.
GE says the new factory, which will make massive gas engines and other components for GE businesses, will employ 220 highly skilled workers. Data and analytics will give them insights to improve quality output and increase profits, Biller says. The new approach will also shorten supply chains and reduce inventories.
GE plans to complete the Welland plant in 20 months. Elyse Allan, president and chief executive of GE Canada, said support from Canada’s export credit agency, Export Development Canada, was key to the decision to build in Welland.
GE’s $165 million investment in Welland follows its recent plans to build similar factories in the U.S. In Greenville, South Carolina, GE Power opened Advanced Manufacturing Works last spring. In April, GE also opened the Center for Additive Technology Advancement in Pittsburgh, to bring “additive” manufacturing methods, such as 3D printing, mainstream.
Of all the cities in Niagara Region, Welland best represents the cultural mosaic that truly is Canadian. Welland celebrates its multicultural diversity annually with its Folklore Festival and International Luncheons. With a significant French-Canadian population, the City is also home to a significant Italian community and over the past decade has become “the port of call” for immigrants from South America, Africa, Asia, and Russia. The Welland Heritage Council and Multicultural Centre is always excited to welcome new arrivals. The organizations offers immigration assistance, computer training, daycare and employment seeking assistance. Welcome to Welland!
The Welland Rose
On August 13, 1991, City of Welland Council passed the resolution to adopt Rose #K0802647 as Welland’s Official Rose, and was named The City of Welland Rose. The city then ordered 1000 bushes for 1993. The first four bushes were given to Joe Mocsan, Gord Rendell, Peter Boyce and Wayne Rohaly, the members of the rose selection committee, in appreciation for their efforts. The Welland Rose Festival continues to promote and sell the Welland Rose every summer so that Welland residents can appreciate the beauty and pride of Welland’s horticulture.
Manufacturing Base Welland is at the geographical centre of Niagara’s diversified manufacturing base and supply chain network. Welland’s 25,000 strong labour force has ready-to-go experience and depth in precision machining, metal forming, electrical & connectivity, hydraulics and power distribution.
Leverage world-class research, technology and innovation to help you grow. Recognized as a small town with big ideas, Welland was the first city in Canada to develop a free WiFi network. In recognition of our energy conservation efforts, Welland has recently been designated as a LED City.
The WDC actively recruits new businesses and industries interested in establishing or expanding their enterprises in the City, as well as building working relationships with local businesses. It also promotes new business and investment opportunities within the City and will provide the business community with information and assistance with their respective needs and concerns.
Facilities & Halls
Planning a special event or looking to rent a facility? We can accommodate birthday parties, corporate events, meetings of various sizes, showers, dinner and dance and more. Tables and chairs are included in most rentals.
Emerging Investment Opportunities
Welland is enviable in terms of business and personal fulfillment. The City is strategically and conveniently located within Ontario’s “Golden Horseshoe” region. The Golden Horseshoe is centred by Metropolitan Toronto, which is Canada’s largest consumer market and an integral part of its industrial heartland.
While the rest of Canada and the world are rushing to make decisions and build a climate and infrastructure for long term investment and development in green energy, Welland is ready. More importantly, the Welland Hydro-Electric System Corporation, a city owned utility, not only delivers the required grid capacity but will minimize the red tape required to set up production and get to market quickly. Our industry and academic partnerships have put Welland at the forefront of innovation and new technologies related to alternative and sustainable energy sources.
Health & Wellness
Over 50 provincial and federal programs to help finance your growth in Welland. From interest and principal free loans, R & D tax credits, training and job creation programs and support for green energy technology investment, Welland is one of the most attractive places to do business.