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GE Opens Fuel Cell Technology Facility

Manufacturing software systems can give corporations the flexibility and support they need to focus on niche projects that will have a big impact on the world.

General Electric announced that it is opening a pilot development and manufacturing facility in upstate New York. According to a press release on GE’s website, the team will focus solely on fuel cells, a method of extracting energy from natural gas to generate electricity, at a station close to Saratoga Springs. Advanced Technology Leader of GE Global Research and head of the company’s fuel cell business, Johanna Wellington, said that she operates the program like a startup. This setup is ripe for the implementation of ERP software systems because the fuel cell division is fast-paced and agile like a young company, but it has the strength of a seasoned corporation behind it. As manufacturing software improves communication across departments, it also provides real-time inventory updates, giving both young and seasoned companies smoother operations.

The decision to open the new facility came after GE labs made a breakthrough in solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology. Fuel cells are notoriously difficult because they require the use of expensive metals like platinum and palladium. However, the SOFC utilizes stainless steel, which is economically and environmentally better.

Bloomberg reported that the chief engineering officer of GE’s Power Conversion department, Vlatko Vlatkovic, stated that there is not enough platinum in the world to use it as the sole metal in fuel cell technology forever. In the process studied by Vlatkovic, the platinum is the catalyst to the chemical reaction necessary to generate the electricity from natural gas. At $1,400 per ounce, platinum is not cheap, which is why developments at the new GE facility are so important.

These important breakthroughs in complicated sectors of the the manufacturing world highlight the need for reliable ERP software that helps reduce administrative costs and strengthens inter-department communication.

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