GE Industrial Systems is using browser-based collaboration tools to speed up the development of its products.
The company is a $6bn business division of GE with 250 operations around the world. It develops technologies to distribute, protect and control energy and equipment.
GE Industrial Systems uses a number of applications from vendor MatrixOne for document management, team working and better collaboration with its 3,000 suppliers.
This year the company plans to link the various applications it uses so that they share information, and upgrade to Matrix10, the latest version of the collaboration platform launched earlier this week.
Eric Reed, global manager of Myworkplace at GE Industrial Systems, explained that the company started by using the MatrixOne collaboration tools to link its engineers working on projects across the world, then added in other areas such as links to suppliers.
"We knew we had to go to the web. One of the things we liked about MatrixOne was the Application Exchange Framework which allows you to share data," he told vnunet.com.
Reed said that the system helped the company to "take cost out of our products and do things better so there are less breakages. It also helps us to manage the supply chain."
The company's manufacturing teams work on roughly 6,000 pilot projects each year, which require request for quote (RFQ) documents to be sent to suppliers.
By using the collaboration tools, engineering staff will be able to take documents from their system and send them to suppliers via the internet. The RFQ used to be a two-week process.
GE Industrial Systems plans to integrate the applications further this year. "We will spend a good part of the rest of the summer getting the pieces connected," said Reed.
John Bell, MatrixOne's UK managing director, added that collaboration tools can help companies capture knowledge which would otherwise be lost.
"There's a huge wealth of knowledge that companies are losing, and companies have to reinvent it because they can't leverage it from the last cycle," he explained.
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