One hundred years ago, a vertically integrated manufacturing complex in Schenectady, NY, defined the company behind the famous blue monogram. Today, the future of General Electric is in San Ramon, CA. That’s the home of GE Digital.

America’s largest industrial conglomerate is in the midst of a major initiative to redefine manufacturing in the 21st century. The 125-year-old organization is developing a vast network of sensor technology and smart software to transform itself into a “brilliant factory.” The goal is to create a companywide system of connected machines and digital production plants.

General Electric has been synonymous with Six Sigma for the past two decades. For the next 20 years, the company plans to be equally well-known for its role in driving the industrial Internet. Indeed, GE wants to make data just as important to its diverse manufacturing operations as robots, skilled labor, and nuts and bolts.

General Electric defines its Brilliant Factory concept as “boosting productivity by reimagining the way we design, manufacture and service products.” It consists of the following four components:

  • Additive Manufacturing—“a method to build 3D objects by adding layer-upon-layer of material, also known as the industry version of 3D printing.”
  • Advanced Manufacturing—“cutting-edge technology and new manufacturing processes to lower cost and accelerate the innovation, speed and performance of industrial products.”
  • Digital Maturity—“digital analytics and insights that improve productivity and connectivity.”
  • Lean Manufacturing—“a systematic method to maximize customer value through the elimination of waste within a manufacturing system.”

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