Silicon Valley computer professionals will help take data gathered from GE units, such as information from a jet engine in flight or the duration of train shipments, and apply it across industries, said Bill Ruh, a vice president leading the effort.
“If you look at where the next gains in productivity are going to come from, it’s going to be from our ability to create more intelligent devices, to be able to collect that data, and to be able to analyze that data and enable people in ways to do things they haven’t been able to do before,” Ruh said in an interview. “That’s really what we’re calling an industrial Internet.”
The group will coordinate products and ideas from GE’s 5,000 software employees in other divisions as Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt seeks to develop new businesses using existing company expertise. Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE is the world’s biggest maker of jet engines, power generation equipment, health-care imaging equipment and locomotives.
“GE is really good at taking technologies in things like gas turbines and being able to apply it to jet engines,” said Ruh, who was hired this year from Cisco Systems Inc. to work in GE’s research and development center near Albany, New York. “This is the software equivalent to that.”
Railroads, Health Care
The California center in San Ramon, east of San Francisco, will seek to take that expertise and develop technologies that add to GE’s more than $2.5 billion in annual software sales. The company already markets programs that shave time off rail- freight shipments and coordinate patient records for health-care providers, Ruh said.
GE has moved much of its own information-technology and software development to a center outside Detroit in Van Buren, Michigan. That facility was announced in 2009 and eventually will employ about 1,100. The company has said it plans to hire about 15,000 employees this year in the U.S., including in manufacturing.
Mark Little, who oversees GE’s global research operations, said in June that the company was looking to expand development of software products in California.
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