On September 14th 2016, General Electric (GE) spent $495 million dollars on Meridium, a company that specializes in building software that monitors and maintains heavy-duty machinery.
This is another purchase in a long line of companies that GE has recently acquired in order to support their new IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) platform, Predix. With Predix, GE hopes to improve industrial efficiency with sensors that can work together in a M2M (machine to machine) environment. These sensors would gather data from each component in their system, and allow companies to analyze that information in order to improve efficiencies, repair machines before they break, and reduce carbon emissions.
GE has been a world leader in industrial innovations and manufacturing, so they were in need of something like Predix to improve efficiency for its own operations. “We couldn’t find anything like that on the market. So we had to build it ourselves, but in such a way so we would be able to scale it without a limit.” says Harel Kodesh, the CTO of GE Digital.
In order to scale without limit, GE has partnered with Microsoft’s cloud platform, Azure. Predix will soon be globally commercial available on Azure in the second quarter of 2017. With this partnership, GE hopes to give businesses around the world access to use the ‘platform as a service’ (PaaS) to improve their efficiency as well.
Along with Azure, GE plans to share Predix in colocation centers as well. This will improve data center efficiency and make services so responsive that when employees use them, it will be as if they are hosted in a local data center.
Here are a few real-world examples of how GE is already using Predix to improve efficiency.
Digital Power Plants
With Predix, GE is building “digital power plants,” with more than 10,000 sensors that, by GE’s predictions, will increase a facility’s efficiency by 1.5 percent, reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 3 percent, reduce its coal consumption by 67,000 tons for each megawatt of electricity produced, and add $230 million any power plant’s value.
IMAGE – power plant
In 2015, GE used Predix in a 25-year-old gas power plant that had shut down in Chivasso, Italy. The plant had been inoperable for three years because it failed to meet the new grid demands. With Predix, however, they were able to analyze and optimize their exhaust gas.
In the end, a power plant that adds Predix will drop its carbon emissions by 0.58 Gigatonnes. That is equivalent to the carbon budget allocated to the entire country of New Zealand by the COP21.
GE has also been looking into more environmentally friendly sources of energy, including the two wind farms that they recently bought in Japan. With their “Power Up Platform“ they were able to increase the wind farm’s output by five percent and plan to save $650,000 over the remaining lifetime of the farm.
IMAGE – Wind Farm
But, the innovation doesn’t end there, as the data is collected, Predix is also able to learn and become more predictive. This will “future-proof” wind farms from issues that have occurred before. Once implemented, Predix is predicted to generate $50 billion for the wind industry.
Trains With Brains
IMAGE – Train
At the 2016 InnoTrans trade show in Berlin, GE unveiled a platform for locomotives that utilized Predix to make trains smarter and faster. This year alone, almost five million cartloads were delivered are using the GoLINC software that Predix built specifically to improve efficiency for trains.
GoLINC allows train operators to gather data on rail traffic, road conditions, and all the mechanical parts, allowing them to diagnose them before they break down and cause more problems.
And since railroads are already four times more fuel-efficient than trucks, a one percent reduction in wait times could save train companies $2.2 billion. And a rise in speed by one mile an hour could save $2.5 billion. Moving more cargo to rails would cut down on traffic, pollution, maintenance, downtime, and many other inefficiencies.
VIDEO – Predix open for all users
On February 22, GE made the Predix Kit generally available. Developer only need to provide is their IP address, an Ethernet connection, a power supply, and what kinds of data they are looking to collect. The Predix Kit will automatically establish the connections and start compiling data within 15 minutes.
Already, nearly 12,000 developers are using Predix kits, and according to GE, they are on track to have 20,000 users by the end of the year. As they continue to grow, GE forecasts their digital business will grow from $6 billion now to over $15 billion in the next five years.
Predix has become essential to GE’s future, as they set out to become a top software company in the coming years. As Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, claims, “If you went to bed last night as an industrial company, you’re going to wake up today as a software and analytics company.”