We all know the Industrial Internet is revolutionary and far bigger than any one company. It’s a team sport. The platform, the vertical expertise, the connectivity, the data analytics, security, the human interface of the learnings….all requires a rich network of symbiotic partners to succeed.

So, about six months ago, I moved from the Predix product development team (where I could indulge my inner geek) and joined GE Digital’s Alliances organization to work on building out our ecosystem with top-notch partners to deliver on the promise of the Industrial Internet. By combining GE’s expertise in the industrial space with the power of systems integrators (SIs), independent software vendors (ISVs), and service providers, we have uncovered some creative and previously unimagined use cases for connecting machines and turning them into a powerhouse for productivity. Let me share a couple of use cases we’ll discuss with attendees this week at Hannover Messe, “the world’s leading trade for industrial technology.”

Opportunities abound to improve the resource allocation and quality of life in cities around the world. Anything—from improving traffic flow to delivering better services to residents is possible by connecting assets, systems, and people and infusing them with actionable intelligence.

Intelligent Cities—Opportunities abound to improve the resource allocation and quality of life in cities around the world. Anything—from improving traffic flow to reducing crime to delivering better services to residents, and almost anything else you can imagine—is possible by connecting assets, systems, and people and infusing them with actionable intelligence. A couple of examples:

Outdoor Lighting—In one U.S. city we’ve installed intelligent lighting solutions to help city officials minimize cost while continuing to provide safety measures for citizens. The question we were addressing was how we could increase savings by adjusting street lighting based on the presence or absence of vehicles and people. We integrated cameras and computers into light posts, providing the ability to determine if the streetlights should be dimmed or not depending on whether vehicles or people are on the road. On top of the significant savings realized by leveraging LED lighting, an additional 16% savings was achieved by dimming lights when they were not needed by cars or humans.

Parking—Another smart city client is using Predix and Intel technologies and working with both Current powered by GE and our strategic partner Intel to produce an intelligent lighting solution for parking enforcement.  In this particular city, loading zones were being constantly misused and time limits were being ignored, causing congestion issues for drivers and businesses and lost revenue for the city. We worked with city officials to design street lights that can understand if a vehicle is authorized to be in the loading zone (i.e., truck vs. car), when it arrives, and when it stays past the legal time limit. Parking enforcement is notified that the time limit has expired, potentially resulting in:

Parking enforcement/revenue
Reduced traffic and improved safety
Faster emergency response times

Brilliant Manufacturing—Much has been said about the possibilities in manufacturing. We have leveraged GE’s own manufacturing capabilities to test out a number of creative approaches. When we look at manufacturing at a system level, we have to look holistically at all processes, and then look at the “what-ifs” for the big savings. It is beyond just one piece of equipment, or a set of meters, or thinking about electricity vs. compressed air. We noticed big potential savings in energy/water/resource intensive operations, because this is not a question of if we do them, it’s when we do them. Here is a prime example:

Operations—The question we started with was how can we generate savings by understanding shifting utility costs during the course of the day? How much does the time of day that we complete a process affect our productivity and cost? To answer those questions, we created solutions to complete more computations and algorithms closer to the machines. We are able to figure out what is relevant before sending the summarized data up to the cloud. We are able to better explore possibilities by immediately ruling out what we don’t need.

We looked across HVAC, Smart Data, etc. with an eye on the cause/effect relationships over a nine-month manufacturing cycle. It was essential, for example, to confirm that a 50-cent savings in one area wouldn’t result in spending $50 in another area (unwanted overtime, outsourcing, penalties, etc.).

By getting smart at the device and the big-picture level, we were able to achieve a savings of 24.1% due to reduction in energy use in a key manufacturing facility.

There are dozens of creative ideas I’ve come across in my two years at GE. It seems that each week presents a new and exciting opportunity to innovate. The technology is here. The creativity of humans is the key ingredient to change the world. Find me at Hannover Messe or on Twitter @amkunte to discuss!

About the author

Abhi Kunte

Global Head of Strategic Technology Partners, GE Digital

Abhi Kunté is the Global Head of Technology Partnership Strategic Alliances for GE Digital.  Abhi joined GE in mid-2014 as the Director of Product Management for Predix Edge, responsible for product strategy, roadmap, product delivery and building key partnerships and vendor relationships for Predix Edge.  Abhi also represents GE on the Board of the Open Interconnect Consortium. Prior to joining GE, Abhi spent 13 years in various leadership roles in Product Strategy and Software Engineering at Intel Corporation, and ran a 3D Printing startup immediately prior to joining GE Digital. Abhi holds a Masters in Business Administration from Babson College and a Masters in Electrical Engineering from Michigan State University.