LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Continuing on the momentum of a recently launched new refrigeration line, Louisville-based GE Appliances is partnering with Google Cloud to focus on bolstering the manufacturer’s smart appliances’ capabilities, the two companies announced Thursday.
The multi-year deal folds into the Louisville-based organization’s “multi-cloud strategy,” said Viren Shah, chief digital officer of GE Appliances, a Haier company.
Cloud computing provides computer system resources, like processing and storage, without direct active management by the user.
Shah said in an interview with The Courier Journal that GE Appliances currently works with Amazon Web Services and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. The partnership with Google Cloud, he said, will leverage the California-based platform’s data capabilities.
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“We want to participate and contribute and help a lot of consumers and a lot of owners through various ecosystems,” Shah said. “And that’s why our strategy is such, because we are quite focused on being digital-focused — and the only way we can do that is through co-creation with the likes of Google.”
Shah said GE Appliances plans to be proactive with intelligence collected through Google Cloud, such as learning of potential issues with appliances, alerting customers and finding potential solutions.
GE Appliances is constantly looking for ways to improve consumer experience, Shah said. For example, he mentioned that, through cloud computing, the company was able to roll out an update to remotely add air fryer capabilities to 200,000 ovens and ranges this past April.
There are currently more than 30 million connected appliances, ranging from refrigerators to ovens, in the market, according to GE Appliances spokeswoman Julie Wood. She said the company first developed software for service technicians to be able to connect to ports on appliances around 2012.
And last year, the company launched its end-to-end SmartHQ Solutions, which includes an app that allows customers to have information regarding their products at the touch of their fingers.
Wood and Shah declined to comment on the financials of the deal between GE Appliances and Google Cloud. When asked how long the two organizations’ partnership will last, Shah said they will work together “for the foreseeable future.”
Dominik Wee, the managing director of manufacturing and industrial at Google Cloud, was not available for an interview.
In a statement, he said that “GE Appliances is an award-winning, smart home innovator that gives consumers the forward-thinking features and capabilities they want and expect.”
“Marrying GEA’s expertise in smart home appliances with Google Cloud’s data analytics and (artificial intelligence and machine learning) will deliver industry-leading, innovative appliances and digital experiences that will delight consumers for years to come,” Wee said.
This announcement comes on the heels of the recent completion of GE Appliance’s new $60 million refrigeration expansion — a move that brought in more than 245 full-time jobs to the company’s Appliance Park facility, which has more than 7,100 salaried and hourly employees.
It’s unclear how many jobs the company’s partnership with Google Cloud will create. Wood said the company has done “significant hiring for software development and programming related to our connected appliances over the past several years.”
“This partnership is just one of the things we do as part of our job creation mechanism,” Shah said. “When you create new capabilities, new skills are required, which means career progression and career growth come naturally.”