Quality Magazine

GE Breaks Ground on Inspection Technologies Customer Applications Center in PA

October 31, 2011

LEWISTOWN, PA-- GE is investing more than $10 million to expand its inspection technologies headquarters site in Lewistown, Pa. Key features of the expansion project include a new global customer applications center as well as a nondestructive testing (NDT) academy for GE employees and customers.

U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson and Pennsylvania state Sen. Jake Corman, whose respective legislative districts include GE's Lewistown facility, joined local officials as well as GE executives and the plant's workforce for a ground-breaking ceremony at the site.

GE's current 82,000 square-foot facility employs more than 230 people in the production of NDT inspection tools used by companies in the oil and gas, power generation, metals manufacturing, automotive and aerospace sectors. GE's Inspection Technologies business is continuing to grow as more industrial operators embrace the use of NDT solutions to monitor the condition of their equipment and more accurately predict when certain components might need repair or replacement--thus helping them to avoid costly, unplanned maintenance outages.

GE's 52,000-square-foot expansion project will increase the facility's floor space by more than 63% and is scheduled to be completed in 2012.

"Our new expansion will allow us to proceed with our ambitious plans for our customer applications center and NDT Academy, while providing us with the extra space we need to upgrade our manufacturing capabilities," said Jeff Anderson, senior executive, product management for GE's Inspection Technologies business.

The expansion will enable GE to maintain its position as a leader in developing and manufacturing a wide range of remote visual inspection, ultrasonic, electromagnetic, advanced radiography and computed tomography systems as well as data management software. These NDT systems are used to help extend the life of industrial assets in the oil and gas, power generation, metals manufacturing, automotive and aerospace sectors by providing timely, quality assessments of equipment used by these industrial sectors. GE's technology also is used to inspect the quality and integrity of new products--such as jet engine blades before they are installed--and infrastructure assets including bridges and pipelines. Key growth areas for GE's inspection technologies business are composites; weld inspections and corrosion monitoring for bridges, pipelines and other structures; and rotating machinery including jet engines and wheels. For example, the growing use of composite materials by aerospace and wind turbine blade manufacturers is driving a demand for more advanced inspection solutions since the primary method for inspecting these composites is ultrasound.

Upon completion, GE's new customer applications center will work with GE customers to help solve the world's toughest inspection challenges. Currently GE hosts more than 200 customer visits a year at the site; a number that will increase with the larger space.

"The expansion project will allow us to expand our new product development, manufacturing and training and create a world-class inspection technologies headquarters that reflects our leadership presence in the NDT industry," Anderson said.

Meanwhile, GE's planned NDT Academy will be used to train both GE employees and customers on GE's latest NDT tools, helping address a global shortage of well-trained NDT personnel. The training academy also will offer partnership opportunities for local colleges and universities.

"This expansion project will be of great benefit to the central Pennsylvania region as GE's Lewistown site currently spends more than $5 million per year with Pennsylvania suppliers, and we will invest millions of dollars in new product development over the next few years," Anderson said. The facility's enhanced training activities alone are expected to benefit the local economy by more than $1 million per year in increased hotel accommodations and related living expenses.

In terms of job creation, the Lewistown site has already added more than 50 positions in 2011, most of them highly technical. The expansion project is expected to enable GE to hire approximately 60 more people over the next three years.