Over the last few years, the Industrial Internet has helped many organizations reach new levels of productivity and agility. But, another benefit of the Industrial Internet—not as commonly known as of yet—is how it can improve and speed product innovation. For industrial organizations, new product development can be challenging because it’s often hard to know how products are being used in the field, and if the design of the product actually matches its real-world usage.
For example, think about your car for a moment. Do you call the dealership every week to let them know how many miles you put on it or how long you listened to the radio? What about when a minor issue pops up? Do you call the dealership to let them know that you needed to change your transmission fluid? Probably not. But what about when your transmission blows? More than likely, you’re going call them up to see how they can help fix it. And, unfortunately, at that point the impact of that issue can be great and time to resolution can be long.
The same goes for equipment manufacturing customers. That’s why leading heavy equipment manufacturers are connecting their machines to the Industrial Internet by utilizing asset-centric software, like Predix Asset Performance Management (Predix APM), to feed operations back into product design.
By aggregating machine data from customers, heavy industry equipment manufacturers now have the ability to discover systemic problems with the equipment, as well as gain insight into how that equipment is then being used. Predix APM can help identify patterns that guide you to improve product-design requirements by shortening the time between an issue surfacing in the field and fixing the issue in production. Gone are the days where manufacturers would have to wait months or even years to discover equipment issues, with Predix APM that information is available in near real-time.
Enabling insights-led product innovation
At GE, we proudly use our technology to continuously make our own products and services the best they can be. That also applies to finding new ways to improve the current products that we manufacture—and GE Power is doing just that. We’ve placed sensors on gas turbines to help us prioritize customer issue resolution work as well as improve equipment production in an effort to reduce future equipment issues.
David Harper, a power services engineering leader, recently shared with me how we improved the product design of our 7FA gas turbine compressor bleed valves, which were sticking and preventing customers from starting up the gas turbine. This improvement potentially saved up to $50,000 in cost for each failed start up. And, this number could add up quickly considering we have around 1000 7FA gas turbines around the world. Here’s some background on the story:
Since we hadn’t implemented Predix APM at the time, our service engineers were receiving ad hoc reports from customers about the valve sticking. This issue was something that could potentially impact customer operations, so we needed to be able to address and solve for it immediately.
During a scheduled shutdown, we implemented our asset performance management solution on the turbines and developed an analytic to detect what exactly was causing the valve sticking. What we learned was that the valve sticking was actually happening much more frequently than our customer issue reporting originally led us to believe. So, we took that real-time data and used it to uncover actionable insights to help our product design team address the issue. The design team took that information and worked directly with our supplier to change the valve stem material to reduce sticking.
So, what came next? For our customers: fewer failed starts and increased satisfaction. For us: an optimized product design that was proactively identified, saving both cost and time.
This example is just one of many powerful use-cases, across GE and non-GE businesses, that showcases how Predix APM is unlocking new efficiencies across the product lifecycle—from design and build to distribution, service, operation, and maintenance—and providing end-to-end value.