In a report published this week, GE says the Industrial Internet — which links networks, data and machines through intelligent sensors, software analytics and cloud computing — could boost energy efficiency and account for more than $82 trillion in economic activity by 2025.
The Industrial Internet starts with embedding sensors in machines, which allows companies to collect and analyze data that can then be used to improve machine performance and make the systems and networks that link them more efficient.
In the aviation industry, for example, this could mean sensors in each of a jet engine’s three major pieces of rotating equipment, which could then be monitored separately. GE says this would lead to more efficient engine maintenance and fuel consumption by allowing the “intelligent aircraft” to communicate with operators.
Similar opportunities exist in locomotives, combined-cycle power plants, energy processing plants, industrial facilities and other “things that spin,” of which there are more than 3 million in today’s global industrial asset base, according to GE.
A 1 percent fuel-efficiency improvement in the commercial aviation industry alone would yield a savings of $30 billion over 15 years (see table 1), the report says.
These efficiency gains extend to other industries as well: a 1 percent efficiency improvement in the global gas-fired power plant fleet could yield a $66 billion savings in fuel consumption over the same time frame, and a 1 percent efficiency gain globally could yield more than $63 billion in health care savings, according to GE.
Freight rail, if improved 1 percent, could yield $27 billion in fuel savings, and oil and gas exploration and development could avoid $90 billion in avoided or deferred capital expenditures, the report says.
The Industrial Internet will require key catalysts, according to GE, including technological innovation and investment to deploy the needed sensors and user interface systems. Additional cyber security will also be needed to protect companies’ information.