Louisville, Ky.-based GE Appliances held a “first-off-the-line” event Feb. 10 at Appliance Park.

The entire GeoSpring facility was designed with lean principles for more efficient manufacturing. Photo credit: Kelly Faloon/Plumbing & Mechanical

Louisville, Ky.-basedGE Appliancesheld a “first-off-the-line” event Feb. 10 at Appliance Park to celebrate the launch of its Energy Star-qualified GeoSpring hybrid water heater. The new 50-gallon GeoSpring is an upgrade from the original, which was launched in 2009.

It combines heat-pump technology with conventional electric heating systems found in modern water heaters, reduces energy consumption by 62% from conventional electric water heaters, and can save the average consumer $325 each year, according toSteve Downer, GE product general manager, water products. The hybrid water heater will sell through wholesale channels such as Ferguson (nationally).

The GeoSpring manufacturing facility is the first to open at Appliance Park in 50 years. The $38 million investment in GeoSpring is part of GE’s total $1 billion commitment to the GE Appliances’ business, as well as the creation of 1,300 new jobs in the United States by 2014.

The facility uses lean manufacturing to eliminate waste during the manufacturing process - reducing the number of hours per unit to lower the cost, saidRichard Calvaruso, GE Appliances lean leader. GeoSpring parts are kitted so they are easier to find by workers on the assembly line, improving productivity. But the true success of the program, he noted, is the team approach and the development of people to solve problems.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, Lieutenant GovernorJerry Abramson, Louisville MayorGreg Fischerand U.S. Rep.Jerry Yarmuthwere among those on hand for the factory event.

- Kelly Faloon