LEWISTOWN - The Customer Solutions Center for GE Inspection Technologies has been up and running since May.
Clients who come to the center are first greeted by an interactive touch screen which displays samples of what GE can do to help them.
In a lot of ways what GE does at the Customer Solution Center is help industry with quality control to ensure their product or tools are safe and without flaws.
Sentinel photo by KIERNAN M. SCHALK
One of GE’s specialized pieces of equipment which shoots sonar at an object at the company’s Customer Solutions Center in Lewistown.
"The Customer Solution Center is about us solving their problems ... we never know what's going to walk through the door," Site Leader Michael Hopple said.
A good example of this can be found in the middle of the solution center, where two robot arms are encased in a plexiglass room.
Hopple said the robot has ultra sonic transducers on each arm with sonar and the arms shoot water at each other while tracking the outer dimensions of an object.
"This is mostly used for the aviation industry," Hopple said.
There is also the Phoenix X-ray Line machines, which look at anything from soil samples from the Marcellus Shale region to circuit boards.
Hopple said GE is working with the Pennsylvania State University on some Marcellus Shale studies.
The solution center is also attracting some non-traditional clients, such as museums.
Hopple said the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art recently brought in an 800 year old bronze statute to be X-rayed.
Another non-traditional client, a university overseer asked to use one of GE's X-ray machines to study root systems.
"A very unique application," Hopple said.
The center also has X-ray machines that examine blades for turbine plane engines and larger components as well. There are two large lead-lined X-ray vaults.
The X-ray machines don't use the typical film that you may see at a doctor's office after taking a spill on an icy sidewalk -GE uses a reusable component and can store the images digitally.
There is a working lab dedicated to smaller hand held devices, with each station having a different piece of equipment.
"More often than not, we are customizing a solution on a case by case basis," Hopple said.
Hopple said sometimes they have to design a component for a customer to fit into a tight or unusual space.
"We look at whatever the customer wants," Hopple said.
Hopple said their clients range from the oil and gas industry to aviation and wind energy companies.
"Lots of weld inspections," he said.
One of the things that can help when looking at weld inspections is the ultra sonic tank, which provides non-contact emersion.
It's not just companies, universities and museums that seek out GE's customer solution center, the government does as well.
Recently, GE hosted the commissioners from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission who wanted to know how GE could help with pipeline safety, Plant Manager John Prendergast said.
Prendergast said that in addition, the Customer Solution Center also has class rooms set aside for the Inspection Academy, an area for engineers to work, a gym and a cafeteria.