GE Digital recently chatted with industry experts from Intel and Harbor Research about the digitization of the equipment manufacturing industry. These experts shared insights on some of the biggest digital trends that are transforming traditional business models in the OEM space—including how equipment manufacturers work with their customers. Below are four key takeaways from the conversation:
When Internet of Things (IoT) first appeared, it disrupted the consumer world by giving users insight and control right at the palm of their hands (think of the Nest thermostat or the Fitbit activity tracker). Now, that IoT disruption is shifting from the consumer world to the industrial world—cue Industrial IoT (IIoT). OEMs, in particular, are using IoT to connect their equipment to sensors to see how their equipment is performing in real environments, and in real-time. This gives OEMs an edge by identifying potential equipment issues before they occur. It also helps strengthen the relationship between OEMs and their customers by creating an ongoing relationship that allows OEMs to proactively perform maintenance, keeping uptime running for the customer and minimizing costs for the OEM. A win-win situation.
IIoT also enables OEMs to identify patterns that can help improve product design requirements by shortening the time between an issue surfacing in the field and fixing the issue in production (and before your competitors or customers see it). OEMs can now use the data from their equipment to feed insights directly back to engineering—accelerating product design cycle and decreasing time-to-market, giving OEMs an edge over their competition.
Intel was looking for a way to improve its fan filter units (FFUs) performance, and wanted to better monitor the vibration of its sensors. FFUs are common but critical devices in ensuring the manufacturing environment is free of dust and contaminants, and are typically unconnected. GE Digital and Intel collaborated together to better understand the real-time health of each FFU in order to predict failure. Together, the two companies developed a solution leveraging Intel’s IoT Gateways and GE Digital’s Predix Asset Performance Management (Predix APM) to perform analytics at the edge, while collecting summary-level data for long-term trend analysis in the cloud.
By monitoring the performance of its FFUs, Intel can now predict potential excursions, have the right parts staged for maintenance, schedule downtime in advance, and proactively service the fan before an issue actually occurs. Before working with GE Digital, unexpected equipment failure typically resulted in three to four days of unplanned downtime. Now, Intel can plan for downtime accordingly, reducing the impact to only a few hours. Intel plans to standardize this process of equipment monitoring across other parts of the business by developing a repeatable and scalable strategy that can be implemented to reach broader outcomes.
Intel’s story is a great use-case for how IIoT is disrupting how equipment suppliers work with their customers. This disruption is requiring OEMs to look for new business models in order to remain relevant, using after-sales service as a point of differentiation. At GE, we started taking notice of this shift first-hand in the 90s and realized that we needed to invest in technology to help us maintain all of the equipment that we were selling. In late 90s, we created our first service level agreements (SLAs) to help customers keep equipment running with minimal failure impact. Fast forward to today: a huge part of GE's business (including the majority of its profits) now come from the services we sell and not from actual equipment sales.
With decades of experience, we’re now helping our customers build a profitable after-sales service business with our portfolio of industrial applications and services. We’ve built an infrastructure where we help customers monitor their equipment and detect issues proactively to enable predictive maintenance. As we all know, equipment ages, business and compliance requirements change, process conditions alter, and asset health can deteriorate over time. That’s why GE Digital is helping OEMs dynamically monitor emerging threats and automatically take actions to keep business, and equipment, running around the clock.
Over the last 20 years, the adoption of digital, IoT, and smart systems has grown steadily, making digital transformation real for industrial organizations around the world. Digital transformation is no longer just a buzzword, but a strategic pillar for how businesses operate today. For OEMs, digital transformation is creating complexity amongst industrial equipment and systems which, in turn, is creating a unique opportunity for equipment manufacturers to capitalize on service value. In today’s world, that service value—enabled by technology—is evolving faster than traditional equipment manufacturing business models. In fact, industry experts predict that the growth of higher value engineered and technical services will outpace growth of basic maintenance and installation services in the OEM industry. This growth is being driven by customers’ needs for planning, designing, building, and managing these progressively complex systems—creating new sources of value for OEMs to expand their businesses.
To learn more about how OEMs can leverage IIoT to transform after-sales service, you can watch the webcast on-demand.
GE Digital and Intel hosted a webcast that dove into the future state of IIoT, what it means for the original equipment manufacturing (OEM) industry, and how OEMs can capitalize on the opportunity to increase customer productivity and create new revenue streams.
Watch this highlights video and then click below to watch the full webinar.
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