Jeff Immelt, GE chairman and CEO, says that the Industrial Internet, a new global network that connects people, data, and machines, is “revolutionizing the services we provide our customers and helping them become efficient and productive.” A recent GE study estimated that new products connected to this network could cut $150 billion in waste across major industries and add $10 to $15 trillion , the size of the entire U.S. economy, to global GDP over the next 20 years. This growth and savings apply to Immelt’s own company, where the Industrial Internet is already helping to manage GE Aviation’s supply chains and LED production at GE Lighting, and improve other business areas.
Take a look at GE Lighting’s plant in Hendersonville in western North Carolina. The plant, large enough to cover 17 football fields, has been producing lights for roads and parking lots since 1955. But globalization had been squeezing the plant’s margins to a point a decade ago when Wall Street started urging GE to sell the whole lighting business.
But GE pushed back. The company invested $35 million, began converting production from standard streetlights, also called high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps, to efficient LEDs, and linked the plant to the Industrial Internet with its Proficy software developed by GE Intelligent Platforms.
The software helped local teams streamline production by tracking myriads of manufacturing and machine data, from parts movement, to customer instructions, and product assembly. Workers also replaced paper with digital records. (See the video made by the North Carolina team about the effort.)
Proficy helped the plant to speed up deliveries and boost productivity. Orders that used to take four to six weeks, now take four to six days, productivity is up by 30 percent, and lights arrive at customers’ warehouses 98 percent on time. “The differences are startling,” said Maryrose Sylvester, President and CEO of GE Lighting. “We are at a point in time where so many factors are coming together and allowing us to step up here in Hendersonville and lead in this lighting revolution.”
LED lights from Hendersonville now illuminate streets in Las Vegas and Sydney, Australia, Walmart stores, and Marriott hotels. Said Sylvester: “We’re moving smarter and faster for customers, and our newfound speed will be a major competitive advantage as the outdoor and roadway lighting segments begin to shift toward LED systems in the coming years.”