As one of the largest OEMs in the world, GE has been using the abundance of data that it gathers for real-time analytics of its own assets around the globe. Now it’s releasing a service that lets other OEMs do the same—securely collect data from its machines out in industry and analyze that data to better serve customers and grow their business.
“We wanted to figure out how to enable OEMs to do what GE does internally,” said Steve Pavlosky, solutions ecosystem leader for GE Intelligent Platforms. “So we set off on a journey to create a repeatable, deployable solution.”
After close to a year of development, the product that GE-IP is announcing today is called Equipment Insight. None of it is new technology really, but rather a way to make GE’s existing software, PC, cloud and connectivity solutions accessible to small and medium-sized OEMs in particular. It makes use of GE’s Proficy software and rugged RXi industrial PCs, along with real-time operational intelligence (RtOI), to monitor asset health across an OEM’s customer base.
The idea is that machines are already collecting millions of data points. How could OEMs use that data to help better serve customers and grow their own businesses? With improved visibility into installed equipment performance, they could predict and solve equipment problems, and reduce unplanned asset downtime for their customers. OEMs could also monetize new service models to improve profitability.
“There’s lots of data stranded in the machines,” Pavlosky said. “OEMs can provide far better support levels. And if they can find other uses for the data, they can make more money.”
This is what GE has been doing internally for years. Through process optimization and predictive analytics, fleet efficiency for GE Aeroderivative gas turbines, for example, increased from 68 percent to 93 percent in one year. GE Aviation tracks engine parts and communicates in real time to GE and airlines to manage engine fleets and improve productivity. GE Digital Energy provides a fee-for-service model that enables utilities to monitor, manage and control their grid via a cloud-based system.
With Equipment Insight, this kind of actionable data is accessible to smaller OEMs. It builds on GE-IP’s “appliance model”—purpose-built solutions focused on various industry sectors that help the small and medium-sized companies in particular take advantage of what GE calls the Industrial Internet. “OEMs liked the concept, but they didn’t have big investment dollars,” Pavlosky noted.
Equipment Insight combines an on-premise or private cloud server architecture with rugged field agents to create an integrated solution that monitors asset health. The server collects and manages long-term fleet performance data and alarms, and administers user access. Based on this historical data, Equipment Insight performs trend analysis of a single machine or an entire fleet. It then delivers role-specific alarms and trends to either the end user or OEM personnel via mobile device applications or a web browser. All of this is guided by an equipment asset model created by the OEM.
Pavlosky pointed to a couple customers already finding success with Equipment Insight. TempuTech, an OEM provider of grain management systems, was looking for a way to differentiate itself from its competition. The company was seeing low revenue on its home-grown software investments; it also faced challenges with disparate systems requiring manual intervention and other technical limitations.
TempuTech installed Equipment Insight and developed a revenue-generating service strategy. “By deploying the solution at one of our customers’ grain facilities, we are able to access and provide actionable information about the health of their system and deliver it to them in real time so they can avoid downtime and quality issues,” said Tom Herrera Sr., TempuTech’s owner.
“Virtually centralizing unlike applications, devices and sensors via a web-based remote monitoring and diagnostic solution is improving our ability to service this account, enhancing our value to them as a vendor, and reducing our overall costs to serve,” added Adrian Merrill, vice president of operations at TempuTech.
Philadelphia Electrical Equipment Co. (PEECO) installed Equipment Insight to give its customers better visibility into their systems. PEECO is creating revenue models for both monitoring and predictive maintenance service contracts through cloud-based portals.
“Ultimately, because this is a cloud-based solution, it’s going to allow us to leapfrog our competition,” said Steven Chambers, vice president of business development for PEECO. “It’s an innovative, more forward-thinking solution, helping us to monitor every parameter within a system—allowing us to be more proactive than reactive on their maintenance.”
The Equipment Insight solution transforms raw data into actionable information, maximizing operational efficiency, productivity and profitability. Alarms and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and key performance indicator (KPI) data is viewed in a single, accessible screen on a mobile device. A customized risk index provides advanced analytics and predictive detection, allowing OEMs to contact customers before their process goes down. Costs are reduced by leveraging a small number of experts to monitor and troubleshoot an entire fleet of assets.
The field agent collects equipment data from nearly any brand of intelligent control device, with GE’s goal to be completely device-agnostic, Pavlosky noted. The data is buffered to protect against network outages, encrypted and transmitted to and verified by the Equipment Insight server. An optional 3G interface provides access where end user networks or public infrastructure aren’t available. Setup of the solution is fast and easy, with little or no impact on customer IT functions.