Bringing Manufacturing’s Sexy Back: The Industrial Internet

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GE’s CEO Jeff Immelt addressing business and technology leaders at the “Minds and Machines” event in San Francisco.

Today I heard GE’s CEO Jeff Immelt, tech pioneer Marc Andreessen, and other thought leaders foreshadow what will likely be the next major economic boon: “the Industrial Internet.” Today, GE unveiled its strategy to a select group of customers and industry leaders in San Francisco.

GE’s efforts to capitalize on “the Industrial Internet”—a term they coined to describe the power of harnessing the combination of minds and machines—will lead to exponential increases in efficiency, productivity, and innovation for industrial companies across aviation, healthcare, and power sectors, to name a few.

Not since the industrial revolution has there been an opportunity to drive such significant change and value, alluded Andy McAfee, principal research scientist at MIT, speaking at the Minds and Machines event.

Take, for example, an aircraft engine. GE has 250,000 of them in service on airline fleets around the world. With existing and new advanced sensors, each engine generates 18,000,000 pieces of data per hour. By taking the collective data captured across a fleet and applying software and analytics, airlines will gain insights that help them understand when these assets are at risk or in need of service. The data and insights will help identify opportunities to improve the performance of not only the engine asset, but also the airplane and its parent fleet—i.e., optimizing fuel consumption based on engine status, air speed, altitude, and weather conditions.

This intensive focus will transform the value GE provides by moving beyond traditional “break-fix” service and shifting to “predict, prevent, and optimize.” Conservative estimates of a 1% improvement in efficiency for airlines translates to a $30 billion savings over 15 years.

Founded by one of the world’s best known innovators—Thomas Edison—GE is now leading innovation on an entirely new level, combining its multi-decade industry expertise, manufacturing prowess, and renewed and intensive focus on software, analytics, and services.