Interviews

The Digital Factory Podcast #18: Jeff Immelt on the Four A’s of Advanced Manufacturing

The Digital Factory Conference, our advanced manufacturing leadership summit, is coming back to Boston on May 7. This year it’s got a new co-host: Jeff Immelt, who spent 16 years as CEO of GE and is now, among other roles, a partner at NEA.

This episode of the Digital Factory Podcast features a wide-ranging conversation between Jeff and Jon Bruner about digital transformation in manufacturing. In his investing, Jeff focuses on what he calls the “Four A’s": artificial intelligence, automation, analytics, and additive manufacturing. Not only will those technologies improve overall manufacturing productivity, they also promise to introduce new capabilities that can drive transformative business models, like mass customization, machine-as-a-service, and rapid product development.

Register for The Digital Factory, coming to Boston on May 7, 2019, to hear from leaders who are adopting cutting-edge manufacturing technologies and using them to transform their businesses. Speakers include the CEO of Align Technologies, the CIO of FedEx, the CTO of GE, the CEO of Desktop Metal, and the head of manufacturing of Ford Motor. The day after The Digital Factory, Formlabs will present the Formlabs User Summit, featuring solutions, connections, and inspiration from people working at the leading edge of 3D printing.

Topics in this episode:

  • Why companies have invested in digital tools for sales, marketing, engineering, and design, while leaving their factories in the last century.
  • Silicon Valley hates hardware, but, Immelt says, an understanding of hardware is essential for developing technologies that address productivity. The best of both worlds would be the hardware side of MIT and the computer science side of Stanford, he says. “You need both.”
  • “The companies of the future are going to be more systems-oriented. They’re going to be able to do both horizontal and vertical, and not one or the other.”
  • How Immelt chooses his projects: “I wanted to be helpful, and I think the best way to be helpful is to try to help this next generation of great entrepreneurs.”
  • What do you most admire in manufacturers? “The ability to manufacture really complex systems.”
  • Jeff’s favorite tool: the elliptical trainer, which he made a habit of visiting in hotel gyms around the world as an antidote to his grueling GE travel schedule.

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