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The Big Picture: GE's Cloud Analytics Combo Gives Service Crews New Insights

Kristin Kloberdanz
June 14, 2017
When spot energy prices climb, it’s tempting for wind farm owners to crank their turbines to the max to take advantage of the high prices. But a surge like that can also damage equipment that isn’t in top form. Until recently, it has been almost impossible for wind farm owners to get a clear picture of the health of every piece of equipment at any given moment. As a result, many operators don’t want to take the risk.
But a new suite of software applications could soon change that. At this year’s annual Minds + Machines conference in Berlin, GE Digital unveiled a new software solution that combines digital field service management (FSM) from ServiceMax — an industrial software developer GE bought last year for $915 million — with GE’s Asset Performance Management (APM) software. The new integrated solution will allow companies in industries as diverse as renewables and aviation to get a clearer view of how their equipment is performing to make better decisions about maintenance and plant management.

“In the industrial world, there was no single view of industrial equipment, whether that’s an entire power plant or the electrical grid or an oil platform or a fleet of trains,” says GE Digital’s Chief Product Officer John Gordon. “If you actually have the status of all the industrial stuff, it doesn’t just help you manage that stuff better — it also helps you to be more efficient.”

 width= Top and above: GE's "brilliant factories" like GE Healthcare's plant in Hino, Japan, are already using data and analysis to improve production. Images credits: GE Japan.

The new software is part of a bigger trend in industry to move from being reactive to being proactive. Companies waste millions of dollars every year by reacting to problems. The Industrial Internet gives them the chance to see problems coming and deal with them before they get out of hand.

The APM and FSM suites automatically collect and analyze data coming from thousands of sensors around a wind farm or a factory. They will help users go beyond traditional monitoring to advanced predictive maintenance and management. Running on Predix, GE’s software platform for the Industrial Internet, the combination of ServiceMax and APM will help operators make real-time decisions about how and when to move equipment in and out of production.

Gordon says the new apps have the potential to transform how people run their businesses. “You can send field service workers out to fix something that isn’t broken yet because you know it is about to be,” Gordon says.

That should also help plants become more efficient. According to ServiceMax, by proactively managing machines, businesses can expect, on average, a 25 percent reduction in total costs. “The challenge has been that problems are only fixed once they have been reported,” Gordon says. “We now start to predict what is going to happen so you can get back into business faster.”