A rare look into what some have called one of General Electric’s best kept secrets in Erie; a computer lab and control center that monitors nearly $18,000 GE locomotives sold to customers around the world.
It’s a long name, the General Electric Global Performance Optimization Center, and it comes with a long history. For 20 years, it has been the hub in Erie for remotely monitoring customers’ locomotives around the world; millions of messages a day on how locomotives are performing given elevation, weather, and a host of other factors.
And, if the problem is bad enough, a diagnostic specialist like Mike Juhas steps in. “Not many places can say, ‘I see cars worldwide, I see semi’s worldwide’. We are seeing everything in real time within 15-20 minutes, so I think that’s pretty amazing just by itself.”
The Center has become so good at finding problems that sometimes they know more than the operator of the train does about what’s going on with the locomotive. One analogy being used; how would you like to go to a doctor who knows what’s wrong with you before you even come to visit?
It’s a technological leap from when the center first started in Erie 20 years ago, but the mission is the same; to keep locomotives working.
Gibson tells us, “They bought a locomotive; they want it to run, they want it to pull a train. So, we’re able to make it available more often, more reliable, we’re able to move it through the shop for repair much faster”. Because, a train that’s not running isn’t making money.
GE has four such centers around the world. The other three are in Fort Worth, Brazil, and Khazikstan. But, they are all hubbed in Erie.