Chances are an app woke you up this morning. You might have then rolled over and checked another app to see how restful/less your sleep was before checking yet another app to see what the day’s weather was going to be like.  And if you’re like nearly 2 billion other people around the world, you probably checked your favorite social media app to see what your friends were up to last night…all before your feet hit the ground. 

We live in a world of apps, and now machines are joining the game.  In fact, machine data is growing twice as fast as other data. That’s because gas turbines, wind turbines, railway tracks, and medical devices are beginning to “talk”—and it turns out they have a lot to say.   Jet engines for example generate 1 terabyte of data per flight.

One estimate pegs the number of “things” which that will be connected to the Internet at 50 billion by 2020, and a growing share of these “things” will be industrial assets.  As they come online, industrial machines will do exactly as we do—they will rely on apps to do just about anything: improve their health, feed themselves better and check out how their friends are doing. 

By the Numbers 

We already have apps that allow wind turbines to talk to each other and coordinate the way they change the pitch of their blades as the wind changes to maximize the power output of the whole wind farm. Instead of “liking” their friend’s status update, they’re using it to perform better and increase the revenue generated by the wind farm.   

Industrial internet statistics

We have apps that tell jet engines to sip instead of gulp fuel. Apps that constantly check the health of gas turbines and predict when a fault is likely to happen so we can intervene with preventive maintenance. Apps that allow doctors and nurses to schedule medical procedures more efficiently and collaborate in real time on patients’ diagnoses, curing people better and faster.

But this is just the beginning. GE is rolling out a new system of connecting and controlling machines that integrates seamlessly with the Industrial Internet’s operating system, Predix, and cloud infrastructure, Predix Cloud.  Remember how your day began with a few apps at your fingertips before you even got out of bed?  We’re bringing industrial apps that close to the world’s machines—to the control system. 

The control of a machine is its central nervous system.  It’s what helps the machine “See, Think and Do”.  GE’s new controls are built on Predix and connected by design, which means they’re a whole lot smarter than their older brothers and sisters.  Where a traditional control would have turned a machine on at a specific period in time—GE’s connected controls could have an app running that enable the machine to check the price of electricity and only activate when the price was at an optimal level—saving operators considerable electricity cost. 

This app could run locally at the control system or in the Predix Cloud along with ground-breaking apps like Digital Twin that enable customers to create a digital replica of the physical asset to optimize performance, increase revenue and reduce asset downtime.  And of course, we use an app to connect machines to the cloud—we can connect an industrial asset to Predix in about 15 minutes.

The beautiful thing about GE’s new Industrial Internet Control System is that it is part of GE’s platform for the Industrial Internet.  We know that the apps that we’ve created and are rolling out are impactful but only scratch the surface of what can be achieved by enabling the innovation and creativity of our customers and industrial-world at-large. 

Think of the number of apps that were live when Apple rolled out the App Store.  Steve Jobs had no idea that a company called Uber would come along and completely disrupt the transportation industry, creating an entirely new business model and a multi-billion-dollar company in the process. This is the type of enablement we’re aiming for. Today there are nearly to two and a half million developers fueling the app economy’s growth of 27 percent last year and it’s projected to reach $143 billion by next year.

These are impressive numbers, but we believe they will be dwarfed by the industrial app economy that is now emerging. This is because industrial apps will leverage a massive installed base of physical assets across sectors that act as the engines of global economic growth: energy, healthcare, transportation. 

Industry today accounts for about one-third of global economic output.  Industrial apps will bring greater efficiency throughout the economy. They will allow us to produce more energy from renewable sources and use it more efficiently - spurring major changes in the energy industry. They will make healthcare better and more affordable. They will reduce delays in hospitals and airports. Combined with new production techniques, they will help develop manufacturing activities in new places, creating jobs and accelerating growth in emerging economies. Their impact on our lives will be stronger than that of consumer apps - even if it might not be as evident.

Learn more about GE's new Industrial Internet Control System.

About the author

Vibhoosh Gupta

Portfolio Product Line Manager, GE Energy Connections – Automation & Controls

Vibhoosh is passionate about making the Industrial Internet real.  In his current role as the Industrial Automation product portfolio leader at GE Energy Connections’ Automation & Controls business, Vibhoosh is helping usher in a new era of edge devices to bring connectivity and optimized controls to the world’s industrial assets.

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