25 Jul 2024


Industrial Internet could boost global GDP by $10–15 trillion

The industrial Internet, predictive analytics and machine-human collaboration in the workplace, could save up to $20bn a year and create new jobs, and skills, according to a new report released by GE. The Industrial Internet at Work suggests that these developments could boost productivity, minimise unplanned downtime, and reduce the time taken to service complex machines by more than 300 million man-hours a year, saving industries around the world up to $20bn.

The report, written by GE’s chief economist, Marco Annunziata, and its director of global strategy and analytics, Peter Evans, estimates that the new wave of innovation could boost global GDP by as much as $10–15 trillion over the next 20 years, through accelerated productivity growth.

It suggests that time and money are currently being wasted due to inefficiencies in how information is gathered, stored, accessed and shared. As information becomes more intelligent, the future of work will be transformed, and a new, highly skilled workforce will emerge.

Workers will be able to spend more of their time in higher value-added activities, while upgrading their knowledge, skills and experience at a much faster pace. New digital and software tools will create a more efficient and productive way to interact with machines, increasing collaboration and faster information sharing.

“Gas turbine maintenance workers, for instance, do much of their service work on a set timetable and lack full real-time information about the condition of the turbine parts,” Annunziata explains. “If they come too late and failure occurs, unplanned downtime can cascade across the system and affect the economy. A new, highly skilled workforce will emerge as the industrial Internet unleashes a new standard in efficiency that saves entire industries billions of dollars in unplanned downtime and turns industrial operators into skilled information-workers.”

According to the report, the industrial Internet will create new jobs, both from the boost it brings to economic growth, as well as the need to manage the new technologies it introduces. These future jobs – such as digital-mechanical engineers, data scientists, user interface experts, and business operations data analysts – will need new technical skills, and will allow greater workplace efficiency and productivity. This will increase job satisfaction among workers: current workers will become fluent in emerging technologies, improving their efficiency; while new workers will be trained to contribute specialised scientific and technical skills.

The report says that most work is still being done in a scheduled and uninformed way, or is happening reactively as technicians and engineers rush to repair preventable failures. Digital and software tools will introduce new workplace efficiencies and change the work experience for hundreds of thousands of workers, from field engineers and drilling rig workers to pilots, doctors and nurses.

This will lead to:

•   faster access to relevant information, through new insights from analytics and better communication to mobile collaboration; and

•   increased machine-human collaboration – connected and communicative machines will self-monitor, self-heal, and send information proactively to other machines and workers.

A wind farm engineer, for example, could soon arrive at work with a wireless device indicating which turbine needs attention and what needs to be fixed. The same device will store and transmit relevant technical information and enable the engineer to share this information with remote colleagues.