Panattoni Europe, Poland's leader in the industrial property market together with GE's Industrial Solutions business (NYSE: GE) broke ground on the construction of a new, 45,000-square-meter brilliant factory in Bielsko-Biala, Poland, which will include advanced manufacturing and a customer experience center. GE is investing U.S.$54 million over the life of the project to build the world-class European facility to better serve its customers globally. The brilliant factory is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2015. GE leaders were joined today by representatives of Panattoni, CBRE, the Bielsko-Biala government, the Silesia region and the media for a foundation-laying ceremony.
The new Bielsko-Biala facility will enable GE to accelerate product development and manufacturing by combining engineering, development, testing and manufacturing operations in a centralized, high-tech environment. In addition, the site will serve as a new regional customer experience center where customers will be invited to interact with GE's latest electrical distribution and critical power products and to share real-time feedback throughout the development process.
"GE's investment of over $50 million in the new Bielsko-Biala facility will serve our customers globally and enable GE to accelerate growth through the integration of advanced, lean manufacturing technologies," said Mark Begor, CEO of GE Energy Management.
Employees will benefit from the site's contemporary layout and open workplace concept, fostering collaboration and teamwork between product development, manufacturing and supporting functions throughout the life cycle of a product. In addition, the factory will bring new training opportunities for employees to enhance their technical skill sets.
The new brilliant factory and customer experience center will be designed and developed by Panattoni Europe, a leading industrial space developer in Central and Eastern Europe. CBRE-a premier commercial real estate services and investment firm-represented GE in the negotiations process, providing GE with design and construction advice and project monitoring and management services.
"Whether it's through exceptional quality, product life cycle management or reduced lead times, this new facility will enable us to deliver simpler, smarter and faster solutions to our customers," said Stuart Thompson, general manager, Power Equipment, GE's Industrial Solutions business.
The brilliant factory will leverage digital fabrication technology, lean manufacturing methods, rapid prototyping, advanced materials sciences, supply chain efficiency and open innovation. The factory also will utilize GE's Proficy Manufacturing Software to deliver critical production insight to optimize efficiency and accelerate production.
"We are extremely happy to be chosen as the developer by one of the largest companies in the world. We are very proud to be able to support GE in Europe and provide them with a new, modern, state-of-the-art manufacturing and customer-experience center," said Robert Dobrzycki, managing partner Europe at Panattoni Europe. "This project represents our new build-to-suit investment in the Bielsko-Biala region, which is a great example of industrial space optimization."
The modern Bielsko-Biala facility will include:
• Low- and Medium-Voltage IEC Product Certification Lab for sharing prototypes and design concepts with customers. The lab will comply with equipment testing standards to gain third-party approvals, saving both time and money in the development process.
• Product Accelerator Lab for rapid prototyping and technology development embracing FastWorks methodologies. GE's engineering experts will be able to invent, design and test multiple solutions at once while gaining real-time customer feedback throughout the development process.
• Enhanced showroom to engage customers in developing products and technology.
• Customer and Employee Training Center for continuous learning opportunities, including new product introductions and processes.
"We are honored to represent GE in one of the largest lease contracts for an industrial plant in the region. The groundbreaking ceremony crowns the long process of preparations and negotiations,"said Beata Hryniewska, Head of BTS & Business Development at CBRE's Industrial & Logistics team. "We are proud to have successfully completed yet another huge build-to-suit transaction supporting growth of the Polish economy," she added.
GE's Bielsko-Biala site has been serving a global customer base for more than 14 years. It's also a center of excellence for GE's IEC low-voltage equipment development. The facility was recognized as one of GE's top performing plants in 2004, 2009, 2011 and 2013. The site manufactures electrical distribution and critical power equipment such as low- and medium-voltage switchgear, control cabinets, panels and metal enclosures, as well as AC and DC breakers and uninterrupted power supply products for commercial, industrial, renewables and mission-critical applications such as municipalities, oil and gas, wind turbines, data centers and hospitals. Today, the facility employees more than 800 employees. Once complete, the new facility will be one of the largest in the region, capable of employing up to 1,200 employees.