General Electric forecasts new industrial revolution as machines go online


James Titcomb

June 24, 2015

Industrial conglomerate says smart components in equipment will boost world economy by $1 trillion

General Electric, the US engineering giant, has predicted a new “industrial revolution” worth $1 trillion a year as wind turbines, oil pipelines and aircraft components become connected to the internet.

Mark Elborne, GE’s head of the UK and Ireland, predicted that the industrial world is set to mirror the consumer internet revolution of the 1990s, which has brought instant, on-demand information to billions of people.

GE, the American institution that helped develop the lightbulb, the commercial jet engine and the MRI scanner, is investing heavily in what it calls the “industrial internet” – adding millions of sensors and connectors to aerospace, energy and medical equipment.

Mr Elborne, speaking at The Telegraph’s Digital Leaders conference on Wednesday, said that this would mean equipment that can relay up-to-the-minute data on how well it is working, preventing industrial failures that can put lives at risk and waste billions of dollars.

“We are in the same place in the industrial world as the consumer world in the 1990s,” Mr Elborne said.

“Machines have to become more intelligent and we need to start collecting that data… [this will mean] zero unplanned downtime, which is worth $1 trillion a year to the world economy.

“This is the next industrial revolution. It fundamentally changes how we design and create products and opens opportunities for millions of people.”

While just under half the world’s population – around 3 billion people – is connected to the internet, around 50 billion machines will be online in the near-future, Mr Elborne said.

Although this presents major opportunities – planes that uses less fuel, oil rigs that know where they need fixing, and wind farms that can check themself for safety – hackers will also try to exploit these “smart” machines, he added.

Connecting more components to the internet will mean more cyber attacks, attempting to bring down aircraft and take control of energy supplies.

“It’s an industry-wide issue that warrants a collective response,” Mr Elborne said. “Companies that don’t have really good industrial cybersecurity are going to be left behind.”

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This article was written by James Titcomb from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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