The manufacturing industry talks a lot about the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), but the discussion right now is really about connectivity. To truly gain value out of smart devices talking to each other, the industry needs applications that leverage this new distributed intelligent architecture. And, in reality, you need more than that. To truly benefit from IIoT, companies need to create a new kind of industrial ecosystem that brings together device connectivity, data integration, analytics, the cloud and mobility.
GE Digital’s Predix, built as a cloud-based platform as a service (PaaS), provides a foundation for companies to develop IIoT applications in a securely managed environment. And, while the company has over 7,500 developers working on applications on the PaaS, GE is just now getting around to creating its own commercially available applications that run on Predix.
Last week at Hannover Messe, GE announced the official rollout of the Asset Performance Management (APM) suite. The software works across three tiers of asset management. First, it provides a unified view of machine and equipment health at any time and from anywhere in order to collect reports and make timely decisions. Second, it offers reliability management to predict equipment issues and enable cross-functional collaboration for a single “source of truth” of asset health. And third, the maintenance optimization functionality—available later this year—will help operators develop long-term asset management strategies that balance asset life, maintenance costs and risks.
GE has provided glimpses of APM with early adopters such as BP, which is using it as part of a pilot program to reduce unplanned downtime at offshore operations in the Gulf of Mexico.
And, while asset management itself is not a new concept, companies have had to integrate a range of disparate solutions to monitor and maintain industrial equipment, GE officials said. They also noted that no comprehensive solution has existed to support the industrial data generated by these assets. For example, Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems can report on how equipment was used and maintained—but cannot analyze the volumes of rich diagnostic data that can be processed with Big Data techniques to predict and prevent equipment issues.
Being built on Predix, however, enables the collection of asset data into the cloud when needed—such as when an anomaly triggers an alert—providing the ability to analyze the information and even bring in a reliability expert. “Collaboration happens in one system,” said Derek Porter, GE’s general manager of Predix applications. “We record, take action and provide a final answer.” More importantly, these transactions happen in real-time for the industrial setting.
Porter said GE focused on APM as its first application because they were looking for the killer app that would work across multiple industries. And, companies testing the technology are already realizing the benefit of the Predix infrastructure.
“APM is learning every time we start the plant, every time we stop the plant, every time we change the load, every time we change a fan on and off,” said Declan Lynch, deputy project manager for Bord Gais Energy. “Our entire plant is being monitored by APM, which is learning what a healthy system looks like, and warning us when we deviate from that healthy system status.”