POLISHING TRAINING TO ‘BRILLIANT’ FINISH
GE adapts to keep up with tech
General Electric announced a new curriculum yesterday aimed at training its 150,000 supply chain employees for its digital industrial focus.
The Boston-based multinational conglomerate’s “Brilliant Learning” initiative is designed to help address the employees’ skill gaps related to manufacturing of the future — lean, advanced, digital, and additive or 3-D printing manufacturing.
The curriculum is tied to GE’s “Brilliant Factory” initiative under which the manufacturing supply chain is digitally connected in real-time and uses big data, software, sensors, controllers and robotics to improve productivity. GE has more than 500 factories globally and 180 in the United States.
Advanced manufacturing doesn’t equate to fewer jobs, according to Philippe Cochet, GE’s chief productivity officer.
“Manufacturing is a key element of the company and, by the way, of the country,” Cochet said yesterday at a GE manufacturing showcase in South Boston. “Manufacturing will face a revolution in the next 10 years that’s larger and bigger than we’ve seen in the last 50 years, and GE will be a part of that.”
One way that GE stays abreast of the evolving manufacturing landscape is through GE Ventures and its investments in approximately 94 portfolio companies, according to Sue Siegel, CEO of GE’s Menlo Park, Calif.based venture capital subsidiary.
“We have to be integrated with the ecosystem and the entrepreneurs,” Siegel said.
Several of the GE Venturesfunded startups were on hand for yesterday’s showcase, including Tamr, one of its most recent investments. The Cambridge-based data-unification software provider for enterprises started as an academic project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and emerged from stealth mode three years ago. GE had been a Tamr customer for two years before investing in the company, according to Karen Kerr, GE Ventures’ executive managing director, who runs its advanced manufacturing and enterprise team.
“We’ve been working with Tamr around opportunities to look at our supply chain and find synergies across our business to help save money,” Kerr said. “We’ve saved $80 million in sourcing, so they’re having a real material impact.”
GE Ventures, which is working with the MIT Media Lab and eyeing some companies that have their roots there, hopes to ramp up its investments in Massachusetts startups.
“It’s a rich environment for technology,” Kerr said. “One of the things we’ll focus on going forward is the nexus between life sciences and manufacturing.”