GE Healthcare adding jobs at Oak Creek repair center

Hiring outpacing original projections

GE harvests and reuses parts from its systems.

When GE Healthcare announced plans to move repair operations to a former Staples warehouse in Oak Creek, the company hoped to add 40 new technical positions to the 87 jobs being relocated.

To date, the company has added 60 technical positions and now has 150 employees working at the 280,000-square-foot facility at 120 W. Opus Drive.

Scott Trevino, general manager for global repair operations at GE Healthcare, said the company has plans to increase employment at the facility to 250 within the next year and currently has 21 openings for a range of positions.

The facility represents the consolidation of operations from four different locations, including from Milwaukee, Drexel Avenue in Oak Creek, Florida and Texas. The Repair Operations Center handles repairs, recycling of used materials, harvesting of parts, and service for large GE Healthcare systems and smaller medical devices.

The process of consolidating the operations has taken more than a year and will wrap up this fall. Trevino said one emphasis in bringing all the work under one roof has been to improve processes and implement lean principles along the way. One line has been lean certified, the first in GE Healthcare’s service operations, and there have been space reductions of 35 to 50 percent, depending on the operations.

“It’s essential that we do these sorts of things to remain competitive,” Trevino said.

Implementing lean principles into a repair operation doesn’t come without its challenges, though.

“A repair shop is a little bit different than a high-flow assembly, where you’re doing a million blood pressure cuffs a year and you’re doing the same thing repetitively. Even in the same repair cell on the same part, part-to-part a repair might be a set of 11 different things you could do based on what fails in that part,” Trevino said.

Among the features that aid in improved productivity for the repair operations are the use of OTTO, a self-driving vehicle developed by GE Ventures-backed Clearpath Robotics that automates the resupply of materials, as well as engineers developing tests for repairs on-site and the use of customizable shelving for each cell.

The facility processes 11 million pounds of materials per year. Some systems have more than 50 parts the company can harvest from trade-ins and repurpose to continue servicing devices still in the field.

“It’s a great way to continue to use those parts and do it at a high level of quality,” Trevino said.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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