GE Manufacturing Solutions
16201 Three Wide Dr,
Fort Worth 76177
GE Manufacturing Solutions does things big.
From its far North Fort Worth facility, the wholly owned unit of General Electric Co. manufactures 12-cylinder locomotives able to pull the equivalent of 170 Boeing 747 jet airliners.
Yet size never fazed Walter Amaya when GE opened the 1.5 million-square-foot manufacturing plant just west of Texas Motor Speedway. Instead, Amaya, as general manager, was more concerned with hiring enough workers to tackle some enormous production goals.
Three years and 700 employees later, Amaya reports success. Not only has the longtime company executive managed to hire enough workers, but he also helped train a workforce that was mostly unfamiliar with locomotive construction.
"It is an honor to be recognized as Manufacturer of the Year by Fort Worth Business," said Amaya, whose colleagues plan to deliver the plant’s 1,000th locomotive from Fort Worth by the end of the year.
“That milestone is a testament to the hard work of our team members and the support of the local community over the past four years," Amaya said.
The company announced the Fort Worth site in May 2011 and within two years had hired almost 300 employees out of about 16,000 applicants. Only five percent of its staff were not hired locally.
News that GE would open the manufacturing operation and build between 250 and 300 locomotives a year challenged Amaya to assemble more than machines. He had to build a team capable of meeting that goal.
Now fully trained and in production mode, those workers assemble locomotives meeting the Environmental Protection Agency’s rigorous Tier 4 emission standards, which took effect in 2015. The company sank $400 million into its Tarrant County operation, including purchasing and expanding an existing building to allow for more manufacturing space.
That allows locomotives to be built in one location, whereas the work is done in multiple sites at its other operation, in Erie, Pennsylvania.
Assemblers, welders, machinists and maintenance technicians are building the company’s Evolution Series locomotive, which boasts 4,400 horsepower and a 70 percent reduction in emissions compared with its predecessor, the Tier 3 model.
Operating alongside the locomotive plant is another production hub, a 300,000-square-foot structure built by GE to construct electric drive wheels for mining trucks weighing 400 tons.
Amaya describes his workplace as “a pretty lean manufacturing site,” one developing robotics technology to assist, not replace, human workers.
Aside from exploring robotics, no hiring is planned in the immediate future, according to company spokesman Tim Bader. Instead, the Fort Worth operation continues to rely on Amaya’s formula for success.
“Have a plan, and make sure that everyone on your team shares that vision,” Amaya said.