General Electric Co. became one of industry's most ardent and best-known practitioners of Six Sigma quality methodologies under former Chairman Jack Welch. Now, GE Fanuc Automation (Charlottesville, VA), an affiliate of GE Industrial Systems, is looking to cash in on GE's internal Six Sigma expertise by dispensing it to others.

GE Fanuc's newly formed Global Solutions Business will design and provide e-manufacturing systems for customers. The new business unit will provide a package of Web-centered software technology, open architecture hardware and capital financing for turnkey factory enterprise projects. But its competitive trump card is its ability to offer Six Sigma-centered solutions, GE Fanuc executives contend.

"If you ask me how this is different than any other solution on the street, I'd say that Six Sigma is our single biggest differentiator. In GE, Six Sigma is part of our culture and it's a real bottom line benefit," declares Kevin Roach, vice president at GE Fanuc, a joint venture between GE and Japan's Fanuc Ltd. Over the years, GE has garnered more than $1 billion in benefits through application of Six Sigma methods, Roach says.

show March 18 to 21 in Chicago. At the same event, GE Fanuc also announced an upgraded version of its Cimplicity collaborative production management software and a new contract with Ford Motor Co. (Dearborn, MI). Under the Ford deal, GE Fanuc will design and develop an e-manufacturing system for the automaker that will feature automated production scheduling, routing and tracking as well as supply chain management features.