GE Appliances (GEA) cut the ribbon at its new $55 million Area Distribution Center (ADC) in Commerce, Ga., on June 17, creating 100 new jobs and introducing a host of new distribution technology for the GE supply line.
“GEA has the leading distribution network in the appliance industry, and we’re applying the best in smart technology to take a quantum leap forward on our journey to serve customers better,” said Mark Shirkness, vice president of distribution for GE Appliances in an official statement. “Today’s consumer researches, shops and buys across various channels—from physical stores to online stores. In this omnichannel world, consumers are empowered, and they want their products now—or as close to now as possible. At GE Appliances, the owner is boss, and our infrastructure investments are designed to exceed our owners’ expectations.”
The new smart warehouse is the first of GE’s investments to blend traditional distribution methods with digital intelligence, increasing the company’s agility to deliver larger products with better cost and service.
The following are some of the innovations unveiled at the smart warehouse opening:
- Smart Yard and Control Tower – GEA’s newly launched Smart Yard utilizes GPS, long-range RFID and cloud-based technologies to provide real-time visibility of assets or trailers. With this technology, our Control Tower team can track and trace shipments in real time from anywhere in the world and quickly identify and solve issues, improving our overall agility and reliability.
- Virtual reality (VR) speeds training – This technology-based, interactive training immerses the operator in a computer-generated environment that closely resembles the job. VR technology cuts training time in half for new operators.
- Digital thread accelerates responsiveness – Using big data technology, GEA’s smart distribution system can analyze billions of rows of data to solve for the most efficient shipping solution. Each appliance will be part of this new digital thread that, in real time, tracks where the appliance is going, the customer who ordered it, when it is scheduled to arrive and what happens to it along the way to the customer—all while reducing inventory.
- Smart basiloids ensure quality – Inspired by technology advances in the automotive industry, GEA’s distribution team worked with partners to design advanced handling equipment with sensor technology, variable-speed controls, navigation lights and cameras to enable operators to move products more efficiently and reduce damage.
- Building design ramps up efficiency – The Southeast Region Appliance Distribution Center is designed to keep products flowing with a goal of moving each appliance only once. Symmetrical warehousing techniques reduce product handling by 50 percent.
GE claims the addition of its Ga. smart warehouse expands their distribution network enough that products can be delivered to 90 percent of the U.S. in one day, a drastic improvement to the regular delivery time frame.
GE operates 12 ADCs and 170 local delivery locations across the U.S. with expanded warehouses recently opened in Dallas in June 2018 and in Denver in February 2019. The Commerce smart warehouse is the company’s largest single distribution investment to date and is the template for all GEA warehouses going forward. GE Appliances sell under the Monogram®, CAFÉ, GE Profile™, GE®, Haier and Hotpoint brands and are in 50 percent of all U.S. homes.