Deborah Sherry, GM & COO GE Digital Europe

We caught up recently with Deborah Sherry, General Manager and Chief Commercial Officer for GE Digital, Europe – our keynote speaker at our 2018 event – to garner her thoughts in the lead up to our 2nd annual event…

1. Please could you briefly outline your Industry 4.0 vision?

“Industry 4.0 is an important building block in the transformation of heavy industry but we believe that the biggest opportunity is in harnessing the potential of the Industrial Internet. While Industry 4.0 focuses mainly on how AI, robotics, cloud technology and automation can be used to optimise operations across factories and their supply chains, the Industrial Internet stretches well beyond manufacturing. It encompasses everything that is connected through digital technology – from sensors and devices, through to machines, networks, analytics and people. The Industrial Internet connects Industry 4.0 to the customer and the full life-cycle of the industrial assets that manufacturers create.

“The Industrial Internet has the potential to help businesses extract valuable insights from assets to transform operations and drive productivity while enabling innovation and opening up new business models. This can create huge opportunities for economic growth. Conservative estimates suggest the Industrial Internet market is about £173 billion globally, compared to the consumer Internet, which is valued at £131 billion.”

2. Could you explain which of your products/services relate and how?

“GE Digital offers a range of industrial apps based on Predix, the world’s first and only open platform built exclusively for the Industrial Internet. The platform helps manage and implement the most meaningful statistical analysis, data mining, and retrieval processes for Big Data to help identify key insights and trends that boost productivity. The platform facilitates ‘Digital Twins’ of operating assets that can then be manipulated in order to boost productivity. GE has created 800,000 Digital Twins of these industrial assets to date.

“By manipulating these Digital Twins using powerful application suites such as APM (Asset Performance Management), FSM (Field Service Management) as well as Brilliant Manufacturing, GE is enabling the most aggressive advancement in customer innovation, productivity, and operations optimisation seen in industry for decades.

“Using these applications, GE Digital monitors gas turbines, compressors, oil platforms, wind farms, jet engines and other assets located all over the world.

“Thanks to this predictive software that tracks the performance of industrial machines located hundreds of miles away, the company helps its customers save up millions of potential savings over the lifetime of their assets.”

3. If 4.0 is largely about efficiency and ironing out otherwise manual operations through automation, what do you see as the best way to achieve this?

“Industrial Internet solutions could bring greater efficiency to key UK sectors, translating into real growth. By connecting machines and making them smarter through data and predictive analytics, manufacturers can become more efficient and productive. Digitising operations and using data more intelligently enables manufacturers to make precise, real-time decisions through data-driven insights. This approach could enable them to link design, engineering, manufacturing, supply chain, distribution and services into one globally scalable intelligent system that can quickly adapt to the needs of the business to respond to external market pressures and internal imperatives.

“For example, GE is partnering with Bosch at its Homburg plant in Germany to improve the efficiency of the factory by a forecast 20%. By predicting downtime on one of the plants’ machines (a hydraulic test bench), Bosch is able to optimise maintenance schedules and maximise output.”

4. What is your main contribution?

“GE is leading the way in the Industrial Internet. This is demonstrated by our deep industrial expertise, growing partner ecosystem, as well as the rapid pace of our own Digital Transformation.

“By harnessing the power of the Industrial Internet, GE achieved $730 million savings from in productivity gains in 2016 and is on track to deliver $1bn savings across its global network by 2020.

“We are using this experiences to help our partners and customers achieve similar, if not more significant results and most importantly we help them transform their business to remain competitive in today’s rapidly changing marketplace.”

5. Times and manufacturing methods/requirements change constantly. How can we adapt to these changes efficiently and comprehensibly?

“To be able to respond to the dynamic changes in their market environment, manufacturers need to build agile ecosystems of digital technology which allow them to quickly make changes to processes across their value chain.

“At GE we believe it is important to start small and scale quickly. Our digital operating system Predix is built exactly on this principle. By leveraging a cloud platform that allows manufacturers to build new industrial applications quickly these technologies enable organisations to drive innovation and adapt to changes in manufacturing standards and requirements quickly.”

6. What do you see as the role of the Industry 4.0 Summit and its value?

“Digital Transformation starts with CEO commitment, and partnership between visionary CIOs and COOs who don’t just want to manage costs, but contribute to creating value for their companies. Industry 4.0 Summit can help bridge the gap between business owners and leaders in Industry 4.0 to help change the way products are manufactured in the future.”