Factory 2.0: GE’s advanced battery plant in Schenectady is a test-bed for the “industrial Internet.”

The Next Wave of Manufacturing

An Internet for Manufacturing

Imagine a factory where every product remembers how it was made.

By Michael Fitzgerald on January 28, 2013

What is the industrial Internet?

As good a place as any to find the answer is at General Electric’s newest U.S. factory, a $170 million plant it opened in Schenectady, New York, last July to produce advanced sodium-nickel batteries for uses that include powering cell-phone towers (see “GE’s Novel Battery to Bolster the Grid,” “Inside GE’s New Battery Factory,” and “Can We Build Tomorrow’s Breakthroughs?”).

The factory has more than 10,000 sensors spread across 180,000 square feet of manufacturing space, all connected to a high-speed internal Ethernet. They monitor things like which batches of powder are being used to form the ceramics at the heart of the batteries, how high a temperature is being used to bake them, how much energy is required to make each battery, and even the local air pressure. On the plant floor, employees with iPads can pull up all the data from Wi-Fi nodes set up around the factory.

Read more: What Is the Industrial Internet? | MIT Technology Review.

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