In a culture of disruptive innovation, slow and steady progress can lose its allure. But the manufacturing industry’s commitment to 1% gains, which are then applied on a large scale, can be equally, if not more, revolutionary, argues Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE. “Sometimes in Silicon Valley there’s a notion among software companies that machines don’t matter. In the world we live in, in the industrial world, machines count,” he says.
Providing a real-world example, Jeff Slagle, GM of propulsion engineering at Delta Air Lines, described how Delta analyzes jet engine performance daily, using performance data collected from sensors on the engines. He pointed to a small spike on a graph that showed one engine that wasn’t at peak efficiency, and thus would burn more fuel — about $14,000 worth a month, for just one of the 1,400 engines Delta runs every day.
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