GE says it is using its appliance business to partner in a “new model for manufacturing” which would see it potentially crowd-source new appliance concepts and launch production quickly using a “microfactory.”
The multi-industry giant is teaming with Local Motors Inc. of Chandler, Ariz., a “build-it-yourself” car production system that draws on designs submitted by car fans, and built by car buyers with support from Local Motors' garages.
The GE and Local Motors partnership is an open product development concept called FirstBuild and will officially launch this summer to “prototype, iterate and refine existing GE products as well as surface new designs.”
The most popular concepts “may then be selected” for testing, rapid prototyping and small volume production at the microfactory, which will be open to the public.
Precise details of FirstBuild were not disclosed, but the companies already hosted its first “make-a-thon” at GE Appliance's Appliance Park in Louisville, Ky., and released a video overview of that session. GE and Local Motors also promised to release more information on its project over social media in the future.
We can thank the reshoring trend for this development. If it wasn't for GE's decision to keep and reinvest in its appliance business in the United States (see "GE builds a home for domestic manufacturing in Kentucky"), we wouldn't see projects like this taking place.
(Thanks to PN News Editor Rhoda Miel for contributing this post).