GE Pushes For Bigger Industrial Internet - InformationWeek
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10/9/2014
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GE Pushes For Bigger Industrial Internet

GE Internet of Things portfolio expands as it brings big-data analysis to vending machines, office equipment, bridges, and other new markets.

9 Innovative Products: Designers Of Things Conference
9 Innovative Products: Designers Of Things Conference
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

GE is holding its third annual Industrial Internet event in New York on Thursday where it's announcing software offerings, new partnerships, and new services to expand the company's footprint in Internet of Things deployments.

Over the last three years GE's portfolio has steadily grown from 10 to 24 and, this year, 40 software and services offerings. The company's goal is to extend its prowess in connecting machines and applying big-data analysis beyond GE's world of turbines, jet engines, locomotives, and industrial equipment.

In a partnership announced Thursday with Softbank of Japan, for example, GE is eyeing vending machines as assets that are sorely in need of connected intelligence.

[Want more on GE deployments in new industries? Read GE Powers Internet Of Agriculture.]

"In countries like Japan, where they have a lot of vending machines, it's surprising how little information they have about how people are buying and the state of the machine," said Bill Ruh, VP, GE Software, in an interview with InformationWeek. "They have connectivity, but they need deep analytics about the operation and use of the machine."

Just as GE senses the state of its jet engines and appropriately plans when to take on which maintenance tasks, office equipment is another potential market, said Ruh, and GE is also considering public-infrastructure projects tied to roadways and bridges.

To provide all the components and connections required for large-scale projects, GE announced new partnerships with Cisco to use its ruggedized routers, Intel to use its chips and servers, and Verizon to use its networks to connect with GE sensors. Those sensors are increasingly being fitted to non-GE industrial equipment for applications including predictive maintenance and performance optimization.

A modern, connected power-generation station spins off terabytes of data that can be used to optimize performance and maintenance.
A modern, connected power-generation station spins off terabytes of data that can be used to optimize performance and maintenance.

GE is hoping to replicate Industrial Internet applications and value-added services it has pioneered and perfected for its own products. In the oil and gas industry, for example, GE manufactures pumps and valves, and it has introduced a line of smart sensors and cloud-delivered services. A Field Vantage service helps customers remotely monitor and manage far-flung oil and gas wells, optimizing both production and maintenance activities. An Intelligent Pipeline Management service spots hot spots and automatically sends alerts and adjusts pressure to avoid failures and facilitate repairs.

On the software and services front, GE is making its Predix big-data capture-and-analysis platform available to industrial customers that want to develop value-added services of their own. The platform is available for on-premises or cloud-based deployment. While it's a proprietary GE platform, Predix is based on open-source technologies including Spring and R and can be extended by customers with their own data sources, algorithms, and code.

"We're trying to be very open, because customers want to add their own value, and it's very much based on next-generation technology that's powering the cloud-based consumer Internet," said Ruh. "We've worked with a lot of industry leaders to create an Industrial Internet Consortium, and that's about testing and showing integration across vendor technologies because we all agree it has to be open."

In May GE acquired Wurldtech, a provider of security and firewall technology designed for industrial applications. And in 2013, GE made a $105 million investment to become a minority stakeholder in Pivotal, the cloud-computing and big-data-analysis vendor spun out by EMC. These are investments in building-block technologies that will show up in all of GE's deployments.

By the end of this year, GE says revenues tied to "Predictivity Solutions," its name for its Industrial Internet portfolio, will exceed $1 billion annually.

The Internet of Things demands reliable connectivity, but standards remain up in the air. Here's how to kick your IoT strategy into high gear. Get the new IoT Goes Mobile issue of InformationWeek Tech Digest today. (Free registration required.)

Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor in chief of ... View Full Bio

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Gigi3
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Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
10/13/2014 | 3:40:51 AM
Re: Kind of open...
"I have long known that vending machines are really popular in Japan. Yet I am surprised that vendors who own these machines have not clamored for more information about these machines. This just proves how little data is being reported back from machines that are already probably connected to the internet – there is a huge opportunity here"

Daniel, IoT based vending machines can report the statistics of the content (powder, water etc) to pre configured number/emails using IoT based sensors. This will help for a proper or timely replacing the empty containers.
Gigi3
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Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
10/13/2014 | 3:37:10 AM
GE into Big data domain
"On the software and services front, GE is making its Predix big-data capture-and-analysis platform available to industrial customers that want to develop value-added services of their own. The platform is available for on-premises or cloud-based deployment."

Doug, it seems that GE is venturing into big data and analysis too. In IoT lots of datas can be generated through sensor outputs and it seems that GE is going to make use of it.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
10/10/2014 | 1:11:14 PM
Re: Kind of open...
I have long known that vending machines are really popular in Japan. Yet I am surprised that vendors who own these machines have not clamored for more information about these machines. 

This just proves how little data is being reported back from machines that are already probably connected to the internet – there is a huge opportunity here. 
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
10/10/2014 | 9:29:31 AM
Re: Is GE considering making Predix open source?
Great discussion here. GE is unapologetically in the software business. This isn't like Facebook, which treats its software and data center innovations as a by-product of its social ambitions, so it's happy to open source them to lower support costs and speed innovation. Exactly how GE marries the notion of an open platform for IoT, with its software goals, with concerns that manufacturing competitors might have about using such a platform, is going to be a key area to watch.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
10/9/2014 | 4:58:10 PM
Re: Is GE considering making Predix open source?
I spoke with a startup at Interop New York that is making a software management layer for device makers or service providers to control various IoT devices, such as an Internet-connected home water heater. I asked about the lack of industry standards and the response was we're not close to industry standards yet. But consumers are still interested in the devices. The enterprise users will be more critical around the standards issue...
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
10/9/2014 | 4:00:02 PM
Re: Is GE considering making Predix open source?
Exactly, Charlie. Seems like GE is looking to establish a de facto standard based on market share. Can't blame it, it's business. But I'd say it's worrisome.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
10/9/2014 | 2:43:43 PM
Is GE considering making Predix open source?
GE has positioned itself early and well as a supplier of sensors and analysis engine for the Internet of Things. But it's trying to have it both ways with Predix. Built with open source components, pretty open to customer modification, but proprietary code. It wasn't clear to me whether it is licensing Predix or sharing it to increase sensor/controller use. From the tone of the announcement, the latter, I think. GE said Predix "will be made available to any company in 2015, allowing them to create and deploy their own customized industry apps." But still proprietary. Why not make it open source, and grow the Industrial Internet at a more rapid rate? 
soozyg
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soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/9/2014 | 1:38:05 PM
Re: vending machines
I would like to see a vending machine make something. Like make a whole cake including icing and decoration. Or make trail mix. Or combine flavors of ice cream.
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
10/9/2014 | 1:19:42 PM
Re: vending machines
Ordering history is very basic and dumb. What time of day are various products selling? What are the weather conditions when certain products sell? What's selling by which location? Are items in danger of running out such that the machine can be restocked in time? If customers are paying by credit card or smart phone, what can you say about customer segmentation by product?

As for equipment maintenance, is the product being properly chilled, heated, dehumidified or otherwise protected and served? If you need to go to the trouble of sending out a repair person to fix X, what other services should be completed at the same time in anticipation/prevention of other service problems?

In short, when Ruh talked about "deep" analytics, these were a few of the possibilities he had in mind.
soozyg
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soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/9/2014 | 1:15:38 PM
how open?
We're trying to be very open, because customers want to add their own value

That seems like a difficult balance--trying to build a basic platform that's open to each entity's needs. Sometimes huge needs.
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