General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) has announced a five-year, $10 million partnership with Purdue University through its Global Research business. Chief Technology Officer Mark Little says the effort will focus on new technologies to increase the company's speed and productivity. He says a one percent decrease in factory-associated costs could save GE $500 million per year. The company's history with Purdue dates back to the days of Thomas Edison. December 4, 2014

News Release

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University on Thursday (Dec. 4) announced that GE Global Research will invest up to $10 million in a five-year partnership focused on research and development in advanced manufacturing.

The GE/Purdue Partnership in Research and Innovation in Advanced Manufacturing (GE/Purdue PRIAM) will push a new era in manufacturing, promoting technologies that enable the digitization, decentralization and democratization of manufacturing to lower cost, improve speed and drive innovation. All three trends are being driven by the increasing convergence of software and hardware that is turning today's factories into brilliant factories that are more capable, connected and productive than ever.

Along with new technology development, GE/Purdue PRIAM will provide educational and engagement opportunities for Purdue students and GE employees to help ensure future manufacturing workforce needs are addressed.

“This collaboration opens the way for Purdue and GE to move manufacturing far into the future,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels. “As we do that, we'll be giving our students the chance to be a part of this transformation, preparing them for careers on that new frontier.

“Purdue's expertise in advanced manufacturing research and development and our long-standing relationship with GE make this partnership a natural. It is difficult to overestimate the potential benefits to Purdue and GE.”

Mark Little, GE senior vice president and chief technology officer, said, “In today's global economy, manufacturing competitiveness starts with having the best technology and people to innovate, design and produce world-class products at the right cost and scale for our customers. We will be investing in both through our advanced manufacturing partnership with Purdue. Together, we will work to deliver the right technologies, while preparing the future manufacturing workforce to run ever faster, more productive brilliant factories.”

Little added, “Investing more in advanced manufacturing technologies will translate into bigger savings in time and money on the production side. For manufacturing operations the size of GE's, just a 1 percent improvement in manufacturing productivity would save $500 million.”

GE and Purdue have been working together for more than 120 years. GE is the largest employer of Purdue students, with many of the company’s hires coming from the university's engineering programs. A large number of hires also are made from the College of Technology and Krannert School of Management.

Both GE and Purdue bring a multidisciplinary approach to research and development. GE's global team of technologists represents virtually every scientific and engineering discipline, which will pair well with the equally diverse skillsets found at Purdue.

Suresh Garimella, Purdue's executive vice president for research and partnerships, said the partnership will be a truly multidisciplinary effort for Purdue.

“We will have faculty, staff and students from across our campus working on this initiative,” he said. “Especially for our students, the learning opportunities will be exceptional and the deeper connections to GE transformational.”

Providing more detail on the partnership’s focus on digitalization, decentralization and democratization in manufacturing, Abhijit Deshmukh, the James J. Solberg Head of Industrial Engineering and the faculty leader for GE/Purdue PRIAM, said, “Our collaboration aims to combine the latest advances in materials and manufacturing processes; multi-scale modeling of products, services and systems; and on-demand, customer-driven product and supply-chain design.”

In the area of advanced manufacturing, GE and Purdue already are partners in the U.S. government’s Digital Manufacturing Design Innovation Institute (DMDI). The DMDI is one of five manufacturing innovation institutes announced by the Obama Administration to bolster America’s leadership and competitiveness in manufacturing. The focus of DMDI is on the development of new technologies to build a digital thread that connects all parts of the manufacturing supply chain from product design to operations on the factory floor. Such a thread will enable faster, more real-time decision making in the manufacturing process and allow for feedback loops that allow for continuous improvements to be made in manufacturing processes or even product designs.

In addition to DMDI, Purdue is involved in providing skills and training support for the new jet engine assembly facility GE Aviation is building in neighboring Lafayette, Indiana. At the plant, GE Aviation will produce its new LEAP engine. The intensified focus in advanced manufacturing through this new partnership will greatly enhance these ongoing efforts. Construction on the jet engine assembly facility, being built near Veterans Memorial Parkway and U.S. 52 southeast of Lafayette, began in July. Production is expected to begin in 2016

Source: Purdue University, General Electric Co.

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