General Electric Co. sees a future for using generative artificial intelligence like ChatGPT across its business, from the shop floor to the front office, according to
Carolina Dybeck Happe,
the company’s chief financial officer.
Ms. Dybeck Happe said the use of AI in manufacturing begins with gathering a huge amount of data from different complex systems. Setting up 5G wireless networks inside facilities creates an internal information highway that can move the data to make it more useful.
“You need to start with infrastructure,” she said at The Wall Street Journal’s CFO Network Summit on Wednesday. “But when you have that and use tools to digitize part of the process, just like you would use robots, that has great opportunities.”
“I would say that we’re just in the beginning of that transformation, and I’m sure that it will happen,” she added.
Ms. Dybeck Happe, who also serves on the board of wireless networking company
AB, credited that role for some of her insights. A native of Sweden, she joined
after spending about a year as finance chief of Denmark-based shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S and 16 years at
AB, a Swedish maker of locks and entrance systems, including seven as its CFO.
She became GE’s finance chief in early 2020, taking on a role traditionally held by long-term employees of the company, which has long prided itself on its management training. In that time, she has played an important part in GE’s restructuring by dividing up the conglomerate’s cash, debt and obligations such as pension liabilities.
GE last month spun off its healthcare unit,
GE HealthCare Technologies Inc.,
and plans to break out its power business next year as GE Vernova. The remaining company, GE Aerospace, will focus on manufacturing and servicing jet engines.
The breakup came after years of restructuring that made the conglomerate’s divisions more decentralized from headquarters, putting more accountability on the businesses for their own results. It has used lean manufacturing practices to improve output, delivery times and quality control.
Using artificial intelligence and automation is part of increasing efficiency and quality, Ms. Dybeck Happe said. She didn’t give details about how generative AI would fit into GE’s operations but said she expects there will be many uses over time, including for office workers.
“I think it will start by improving the quality because it’s going to be more precise,” she said. “If you look at factories today, they’re rarely automated end-to-end, but you will have robots in parts that are automated. And you’ll have people who are working to make sure that the automation is doing what it’s supposed to do.”
Write to Thomas Gryta at Thomas.Gryta@wsj.com
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