Last week was GE Digital’s Minds + Machines Conference in San Francisco. This Industrial Internet (or Internet of Things to the rest of us) gathering showcases the latest of GE’s digital portfolio–including GE Automation and Control (the successor to GE Intelligent Platforms, successor to GE Fanuc Automation, whew).
I tried to arrange my schedule to make it out there, but there had been too many trips in Sept., Oct., and Nov. for my time and expense budget to make it. So, we had a conference call meeting with Jim Walsh, President and CEO of GE Automation & Controls, and Rich Carpenter, Product GM of Control Platforms also at GE Automation & Controls. We talked about the Industrial Internet, digitalization, and new products.
Included in my news below are additional news from the M+M event including acquisition and product news.
The point most interesting was Walsh and Carpenter discussed the edge device of the network as the controller (PLC). (See the graphic) Almost all of the other companies I talk with are developing an edge device separate from the controller. Carpenter described the closed loop control as “see-think-do”, and then the Industrial Internet plus Predix (GE’s cloud-enabled software product) analytics adds an “optimize” loop to the controller. It can then reflect back on experience and make changes as necessary.
Take for example large pumps in a water/wastewater application. They, of course, are energy consumers. By adding analytics from Predix, the controller could be modified to operate in a more energy efficient manner. One example proved out a $1.5 million per year savings. Another benefit is productivity improvements which Walsh said they had witnessed personally. They referred to the Industrial Internet Control System (IICS), which I will discuss later [Note: much like my Automation Fair update, this one will be long, because there is so much.]
And now, on to the news.
- GE releases new suite of Predix applications and services; introduces the Predix System
- Acquisition of Bit Stew Systems enables efficient data ingestion for industrial applications
- Acquisition of Wise.io strengthens machine learning and data science capabilities for Predix and enables enhanced Digital Twin development
- Meridium acquisition places GE in the lead for Asset Performance Management app development; acquisition of ServiceMax positions GE to lead in service transformation
- Ecosystem expands with independent software vendor program to speed industrial application development; more than 19,000 developers now building on Predix
- Digital orders on track to exceed $7B, a growth of 25%+ in 2016
- Digital thread productivity exceeds $600 million and accelerating into 2017
In 2016, orders from GE’s portfolio of software solutions are on track to climb 25%+ to more than $7 billion. Demonstrating the strength of Predix within GE, digital thread productivity will exceed $600 million, accelerating into 2017.
“The opportunity for industry is now,” said Bill Ruh, Chief Digital Officer of GE and CEO, GE Digital. “The Industrial Internet is profoundly transforming how we operate and our ability to deliver greater productivity for GE and for our customers. Connected machines, coupled with deep machine learning, are more powerful than anything we have seen. These strategic investments in both the Predix platform and our partners continue to attract industrial companies and provide them with tools they need to embark on their own digital industrial transformations.”
EXTENDING PREDIX FROM THE EDGE TO THE CLOUD
GE unveiled a new suite of software and applications.
This release will focus on expanding the platform and scaling development of Digital Twins – virtual representations of physical assets that comprise the world’s industrial infrastructure – through Predix apps and toolkits.
This new set of components can run on a variety of operating systems, devices and form factors – from sensors and controllers to gateways, server appliances and the cloud – making Predix a distributed system for the Industrial Internet and a complete “edge-to-cloud” offering.
GE also launched new Predix-based solutions, designed to help customers harness the power of the Industrial Internet:
Current, designed to analyze and optimize energy use and operational efficiency use across lighting, HVAC and other systems.
Digital Substation, extends maintenance optimization to the electricity grid.
Health Cloud, Cloud-enabled patient outcomes are linking clinical feedback to transformative radiology pathways.
Predictive Corrosion Management, a new Asset Performance Management (APM) solution that provides continuous inspection data and cloud-based analytics of pipe conditions to help operators manage corrosion-related risk.
Digital Power Plant software for gas, steam and nuclear plants, which features new tools to help customers reduce unplanned downtime by up to 5%, reduce false positive alerts by up to 75%, and reduce operations and maintenance costs by up to 25%.
Digital Hydro Plant, a suite of apps combining both software and hardware solutions designed to support Hydro customers globally, helping them get the most out of assets over the lifetime of a plant.
GE Digital announced it has acquired Bit Stew Systems to bring its data intelligence capabilities to Predix and other industrial solutions. Bit Stew applies its machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to automate the process of data modeling, mapping and ingestion, accelerating time to value for customers, such as BC Hydro, Pacific Gas & Electric and Scottish & Southern Energy. This acquisition will help GE Digital provide a solution to organize large amounts of data through efficient data organization at the edge or at the source of the data – the asset.
GE Digital also acquired Wise.io, a leading machine learning and intelligent systems company. This acquisition will enable GE Digital to further accelerate development of advanced machine learning and data science offerings in the Predix platform. The Wise.io team deepens GE’s machine learning stack and will spearhead innovative solutions in GE’s vertical markets to develop its machine learning offerings.
GE also announced a program dedicated to independent software vendors (ISVs), aimed at spurring development of industrial solutions and extending the reach of the Predix platform. Through these partnerships, GE will share its industry expertise and allow partners to use Predix as the building block for new industrial applications to enhance various components of industrial operations – such as maintenance, content development and asset management.
Inaugural launch partners include: Box, Decisyon App Composer, Entercoms, Ericsson, Mobideo, Nurego, OAG Analytics, Pitney Bowes and Splunk. The addition of ISVs enhances the growing ranks of the GE Digital Alliance Program, which launched in February. The alliance program now boasts more than 270 partners around the world, including major enterprise players such as AT&T, EY, Intel, Microsoft and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).
GE’s Industrial Internet Control System
GE’s Automation & Controls business introduced GE’s new Industrial Internet Control System (IICS) at its 2016 Connected Controls Symposium at the company’s Global Research Center in Niskayuna, NY. IICS delivers new levels of productivity for industrial assets and processes by integrating controls with Industrial Internet analytics – at scale yet modular and flexible for industrial settings worldwide.
Early IICS adopters report a +7% gain in asset performance and 22% increase in efficiency. By leveraging GE’s deep domain and controller expertise, the IICS solution empowers customers to improve operational efficiency, optimize production and unlock new revenue opportunities.
The system utilizes GE’s Field Agent technology as the gateway between the asset and the Industrial Internet. Field Agent provides a rugged, pre-configured solution for secure data collection and conveyance from the machine to fuel analytics that improve operations.
GE’s Industrial Internet Control System also includes:
- Industrial Cloud Platform – Provides real time process optimization and control; minimalizes disruption to deployed application; Creates new value over time without having to retrofit
- Secure Cloud Connectivity – Predix ready; Provides secure data collection; Enables advanced analytics; Form factors to meet the need
- Outcome Optimizing Controllers – Real-time control; Defense in-depth security; Decreases time to market; Helps reduce unplanned downtime and enhance system performance
- Mix & Match I/O – Remote, real-time diagnostics; Wide range of communication options; Modularity-simple scalability; Drives improved availability and simplified maintenance
- Professional Services – Real Time control; Security at its core; Decreases time to market; Helps reduce unplanned downtime and enhance system performance
- Intelligent Apps – Real Time Control; Security at its core; Decreases time to market; Helps reduce unplanned downtime and enhances system performance
IICS features dual or quad core configuration which provides safe and secure communication with either cloud-based or locally hosted algorithms and applications.
Two structural innovations make the new solution “future proof” for customers, who want hardware assets to be long-lived but remain optimally functioning.
- Industry-first Hypervisor control technology that separates operations from software so that the software can be upgraded without affecting the physical controller, allowing the hardware to stay in place and up to date.
- ComExpress processor technology that allows the processor to be updated as needed, again without replacing the controller. This is critical to support the growing computational power available from the Industrial Internet, including GE’s Digital Twin predictive model for optimizing assets with minimal interruption.