The machines are getting smarter, and factories – and people – are getting more productive

By June 10, 2015 April 27th, 2016 News

A new industrial revolution is upon us, say manufacturers, heralding cozier data, the Internet of things and robots that learn.

“We’re collectively entering into the information age in software and analytics, kind of transitioning from the previous industrial age,” said GE Power & Water’s Keith Belsom, who manages what the company has dubbed its “brilliant factory.”

Unlike traditional factories, the fourth industrial revolution is connecting what used to be separate machine tools, robots, databases and analytics software to create the industrial plant of the future, Belsom said. With more sensors and connected data analytics, machines can make predictive decisions to operate factories and supply chains in response to customer needs, he said.

“How great would it be for a machine to alert you that in the next six months, this ball screw is going to fail, so you should have one ready?” said Wade Herrin, GE Power & Water Manufacturing Engineering and Technology Center of Excellence leader.

Less downtime not only means more line productivity, but reduces wear on machines worth millions of dollars, Herrin said.

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