GE Plastics; past, present and future

GE Plastics has a long and storied history with many accomplishments and successes to its name. The company being around since 1892, became one of the world’s largest plastics manufacturers.

GE Plastics was constantly looking to improve its products and extend its reach into new markets. They are leaders in research and development, which is why they innovated new ways to create lighter, stronger, and more efficient plastics. GE Plastics was also committed to sustainable practices, which is why it constantly worked on finding new ways to recycle and reuse plastics.

In terms of the future of GE Plastics, it positioned itself as a company looking to improve its products and services. This is why GE Plastics were pioneers in using Six Sigma, with many of their employees acquiring ‘Black Belt’ status. One of the individuals that was lucky enough to achieve this status was Stephen Blair, a former employee of GE Plastics. He is now the QA and Technical manager Manager at Polymer Compounders Limited.

Polymer Compounders Limited is an SME based in Durham, United Kingdom, specialising in thermoplastic compounding. Stephen Blair (New Product Engineer/Manufacturing Europe) was heavily involved in the development stages of GE Plastics grade Cycoloy C2950 a non-halogenated FR PC/ABS material. In recent times Stephen has applied his superior knowledge of chemistry to develop a new type of flame retardant polymer known as Notoxicom® B6000, a novel 'polymeric' self-extinguishing FR PC/ABS material grade. Notoxicom® B6000 is exceptional because it uses polyphosphonate co-carbonate technologies to achieve the same flame retardancy performance as industry-standard FR PC/ABS materials, such as Bayblend® FR3010 and CYCOLOY™ C2950.

Six Sigma

Motorola pioneered Six Sigma, setting a “six sigma” goal for its manufacturing business. It registered Six Sigma as a service mark on June 11, 1991 (U.S. Service Mark 1,647,704); on December 28, 1993, it registered Six Sigma as a trademark. In 2005 Motorola attributed over $17 billion in savings to Six Sigma.

Honeywell and General Electric were also early adopters of Six Sigma. As GE’s CEO in 1995, Jack Welch made it central to his business strategy. In 1998 GE announced $350 million in cost savings thanks to Six Sigma, which was an essential factor in the spread of Six Sigma (this figure grew to more than $1 billion). By the late 1990s, about two-thirds of the Fortune 500 organizations had begun Six Sigma initiatives to reduce costs and improve quality.

In recent years, some practitioners have combined Six Sigma ideas with lean manufacturing to create a methodology named Lean Six Sigma. The Lean Six Sigma methodology views lean manufacturing, which addresses process flow and waste issues, and Six Sigma, focusing on variation and design, as complementary disciplines aimed at promoting “business and operational excellence”.

In 2011, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has published the first standard, “ISO 13053:2011”, defining a Six Sigma process. Other standards have been created mainly through universities or companies with Six Sigma first-party certification programs. (1.)

GE Plastics was also constantly working to develop new and improved ways to recycle plastics and establish itself as a leader in the global plastics industry. They had goals of becoming one of the top three global plastic producers and were poised to achieve these goals thanks to their dedication to innovation, sustainability, and customer satisfaction.


Citations

  1. Six Sigma. (2022, September 6). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Sigma