I wasn’t quite sure what to expect at the GE visit since I didn’t know much about the company….or at least about its operations in Italy. The Florence facility is the home of their oil and gas division. They produce turbines and compressors for large oil companies like Exxon Mobil, which was the response I expected when asked about their customer base. What was interesting to me was finding out the French Navy was also a large customer. They purchase the equipment for submarines. GE Oil and Gas provides the infrastructure manufacturing for their industry.
They operate shifts per day, six sometimes seven, days a week. Each shift is 7.5 hrs long.
GE’s slogan is “Imagination at work,” and that was evidenced here by their Project Idea Board that allows employees to make suggestions for improvements of any kind. Those suggestions get reviewed every Friday, and the best ones are presented for management review and approval.
Giulia has been a Process Control Engineer with them for seven years. She led us on a plant tour explaining how they produce the equipment. For a complete novice like me it was all Greek…..or should I say Italian? Anyway, the tour was an informative overview. Interestingly, I noted the “your safety is our priority” banners hanging up. This is fairly typical in plants/factories, but their execution seemed contradictory in a few places. They had charts on each machine noting requirements for PPE (personal protective equipment) but nowhere did I see ear protection being used. They had a couple of PPE vending machines set up throughout the buildings. I have never seen those before. However, in more than one location they had machine controls dangling down into yellow-lined “safe” walking areas. Perhaps a more consistent execution of safety protocols would be more easily understood by both employees and visitors.
The number one goal for the future is to reduce lead times. It currently takes 6 months from raw materials to QC check. They want to reduce that to 3 months. I must say, they are very aggressive in setting their targets.