As a freelance writer that doesn’t work for General Electric, I was intrigued by a recent article published in the Motley Fool. General Electric’s factories are becoming more streamlined in two ways, and both are creating quite a buzz in the business world. Many companies are starting to look into ways they can adapt these ideas into their own corporate practices. Streamlined factories help to lower costs and increase gross profit margins over time. It’s always a smart idea to make your own production more efficient, safe, and smart. While General Electric plans to invest a great deal of money into these projects, they should see a decent return on investment later on.
The Brilliant Factory Concept
The so-called Brilliant Factory that GE’s administrators have been talking about lately is based on Henry Ford’s assumption that complex tasks will always become easier when they’re broken down. GE is breaking down manufacturing processes into basic steps. These basic steps are then being encoded into computer code that specifically defines how each task has to be performed. The ultimate goal is to converge the physical and digital worlds together to build a factory that can improve itself over a long period of time.
The concept tightly integrates the engineering design teams with the manufacturing teams. This type of integration has been referred to as virtual manufacturing in a number of official GE publications. This also helps to get everyone on the same page when it comes time to tackle a problem. They leverage data from machines equipped with sensors so they can monitor every aspect of the manufacturing process.
Looking at the GE Store
Administrative heads at GE have also realized there’s a great deal of infrastructure that unifies the company’s different industrial segments together. The GE Store is a series of initiatives to let each of the company’s industrial segments explore how the other segments are using technology and streamlining manufacturing processes to build better products.
It also allows individuals from each of the different industry segments to take a better look at how the other ones develop products. This means someone from development is able to see where products are taken all the way to the pallet wrapping machines and gives employees a more overall picture. There wasn’t a great deal of communication between the different segments until recently, and this new initiative helps to ensure everyone knows about good ideas that would have previously gone unpublished.
How Other Companies Can Learn from these Initiatives
Most corporations lack the incredible human and financial resources that GE has, but that doesn’t mean they can’t adapt some of these practices to their own business. Allowing all segments of an industrial operation to come together and share ideas is something everyone should try. Basic industrial sensor packages can be applied in almost any workshop with suppliers like SIAT S.p.A. and businesses are quickly learning that there are many new ways to use information to streamline their own factories.