GE Aerospace Plans Aftermarket Tech Acceleration Center
GE Aerospace has announced plans to establish a new facility dedicated to developing next-gen engine services technologies. The Service Technology Acceleration Center (STAC) will focus on advanced engine inspection, repair and overhaul technologies that GE wants to roll out across its global MRO network.
The $14 million, 85,000 ft.2 facility will be located in Springdale, Ohio, near Cincinnati and GE’s Evendale facility. GE will be acquiring 60,000 ft.2 of existing space and building another 25,000 ft.2 of high-bay space that will be large enough to house GE9X engines.
According to Nicole Tibbetts, chief manufacturing engineer for MRO at GE Aerospace, the STAC will aim to not only create better repairs, but also to speed up their industrialization across GE and its third-party MRO providers. She says the OEM typically industrializes 2,000 or more repairs per year across its services network, with its engineering division collaborating with its MRO experts. The STAC will enable it to co-locate engineers with repair process experts to incubate and optimize new engine MRO technologies.
“If you can take a center like this, which is outside of active production, and perfect a process and incubate a technology to the point where it’s mature enough, then the introduction and adoption of that technology and the broader MRO network globally is going to be all that much better,” says Tibbetts. “This site is intended to put us in an even better position to accelerate the technologies we are developing and industrializing to service our customers at the lowest cost and highest velocity possible.”
The facility will build on GE’s existing aftermarket developments in areas such as robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) to improve processes such as engine inspections. Tibbetts says one technology the STAC will initially devote efforts to is white light inspections, which traditionally require human interpretation of defects such as nicks, dents, scratches and corrosion to determine whether components are repairable. She says the implementation of AI in this area could help GE automate and document these inspections.
According to Tibbetts, the STAC will also be an important location for training both GE’s MRO staff and its partners on the new aftermarket technologies it is developing. She says the training focus will be key to improving performance and cost of ownership for new services technologies. “Training is going to be heavily rooted in what we do day in and day out to make sure that we have the next generation of aircraft mechanics who are working in cutting edge technology in a safe and compliant way,” she says.
GE plans to hire 50 salaried workers at the STAC over the next two years. Tibbetts says the positions will range from experts in conventional repair processes to staff with expertise in areas such as lasers and additive manufacturing.
GE is aiming to open the STAC by sometime in the third quarter of 2023.