General Electric CEO Larry Culp told Reuters he is “really stunned” to learn the GE Power plant in Greenville, South Carolina has just started using lean manufacturing techniques.
Culp told reporters he visited the plant last summer, and was informed by his team that cost-cutting manufacturing had just started. When he returned this week, he learned that was not the case. Culp joined GE’s Board of Directors in April of last year, and was named CEO last November. In February of this year, tED magazine reported Culp issued a letter to investors that he is focused on GE Power, Renewable Energy, Aviation, and Health Care businesses. The letter stated, “We have too much debt and we need to reduce it thoughtfully and soon. Once we put our balance sheet in a healthier place, we’ll be in a better position to play offense across all our businesses.” Culp also wrote that he would be slimming down the headquarters in Boston, shed about 30,000 employees in the last year, and sold off some of its businesses.
Culp told reporters the Power business consumes most of his time, and it is not turning a profit. He had hoped the plant would have already started the lean principles before now, which would cut manufacturing costs and improve efficiency.
According to a GE press release, it opened Advanced Manufacturing Works in April of 2016 as a “125,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art industrial plant to serve as GE Power’s first advanced manufacturing facility.” The press release says GE invested $73 million in the facility, and planned to invest an additional $327 million over the next several years to drive innovation. The facility was designed to revolutionize the way GE Power creates and improves products by serving as an incubator for the development of advanced manufacturing processes and rapid prototyping of new parts for GE’s energy businesses—Power, Renewable Energy, Oil & Gas and Energy Connections. The plant makes gas-fired turbines that for power plants around the world.