New Manufacturing Model Seeks to Bring GE Appliances to Market By Years-End
Mar 13, 2014
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A new partnership between GE and Local Motors, an open-source hardware innovator, will pair co-creation and micromanufacturing to build and commercialize next-evolution GE cooking appliances—and expects to have new appliances available to consumers by the end of 2014.

The partnership was formed with a goal of launching a new model for the manufacturing industry. The new model focuses on speeding the time "from mind to market." It will leverage advanced manufacturing processes and an open innovation approach to engineering.

Collaborative ideas will be sourced online from a community of engineers, scientists, fabricators, designers, and enthusiasts. The members of this online community will focus on identifying market needs and solving engineering challenges to unlock breakthrough product innovations.

A new microfactory—a specialized facility focused on prototyping and producing a small batch of products at a rapid pace—will be established to build, test, and sell these new ideas.

"At GE over the past years, we’ve redefined our approach to innovation, focusing on R&D as well as co-creation, open collaboration, and partnership, which has allowed us to engage new audiences and develop a following across various industry sectors," said GE Executive Director of Global Innovation Steve Liguori.

Liguori went so far as to call the launch of the partnership the dawn of "a new era of manufacturing."

Liguori said, "With Local Motors, we are pioneering the future of work, fast tracking a new model for the manufacturing industry, and improving and expanding GE’s product offering to better meet future customer needs.”

The open platform, FirstBuild, will officially launch in the summer of 2014 and will be the home for a global community of innovators to prototype, iterate, and refine existing GE products, as well as develop new designs. The most popular innovations may then be selected for testing, rapid prototyping, and small volume production at the microfactory. The microfactory will be open to the public.

"Local Motors and GE will provide a powerful platform to discover innovators and, in turn, make revolutionary new products available to consumers," said Local Motors CEO Jay Rogers. "Rapid iteration, rapid development, and rapid manufacturing that will make an enduring impression on the world’s manufacturing history.”

The first set of projects will focus on GE Appliances and the future of cooking. Community members will be invited to submit and discuss ideas to improve the performance of certain major kitchen appliances. The first product is expected to be available to U.S. consumers by late 2014.

GE will evaluate applications of this business model across the company’s other business units.

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