GE’s Predix—the platform of a new generation

By Mike Bacidore, editor in chief, Control Design

Jun 29, 2017

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Welcome to the third generation of Internet. The first generation was a consumer internet, with platforms such as Facebook, Amazon and Youtube, all designed for consumers. The enterprise internet was the second generation. Applications such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) software embody the second generation. “We’re hitting the third internet generation now,” said Gytis Barzdukas, head of Predix product management, GE Digital, who spoke at AutomaTech’s ThinkBIG 2017 User Conference in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

“This third generation is about how those machines and asset data are becoming unlocked and how we can get those machines to talk to each other,” said Barzdukas. “Those machines are always giving off data, time-series data. There’s 300 terabytes of data coming off of one GE engine on a transcontinental flight.”

Making sense of that data and turning it into valuable business intelligence requires more expertise and knowledge. “We’re doing it in an open platform,” said Barzdukas. “The Industrial Internet is no longer a probability, but an inevitability. The typical wind turbine today has multiple small servers, and the amount of data coming off machines will continue to grow. Industrial companies need the capabilities to capture and analyze this data to drive better outcomes for their businesses.”

GE’s industrial edge to cloud platform, Predix, has been the choice of several multinational companies, including GE itself. It’s already realized $25 million in parts supplier savings, $200 million in outage productivity and $70 million in productivity savings. BP has used Predix to connect more than 650 wells worldwide. And Schindler has built an application for escalators and elevators on Predix with 200 million data points collected per day.

Delta has more than 1,800 engines monitored with GE solutions, and Gerdau Steel has 11 plants and 600 connected assets. Lixil, the housing and building equipment manufacturer, reduced scheduling time by 66% using Predix, and FieldVision has realized significant reduction in unplanned downtime.

“We’re getting traction with Predix,” said Barzdukas. “It’s been in the market for about 18 months now, and there are constantly new things coming onboard. Predix is a distributed application platform optimized for developing, managing and monetizing Industrial Internet solutions.”

Current Predix operating regions include Germany, Japan, western United States and eastern United States, with access for global companies to use locations around the world. “We want to go where the demand is, and China is definitely one of those areas,” explained Barzdukas.

Open for business

Because it’s an open platform, Predix is designed for people to bring applications to it. “We want to bring developers to the platform,” explained Barzdukas. “We have 100 applications and microservices on Predix now, and half of them have been produced by GE, the other half by third parties.”

Predix runs not just in the cloud, but also at the edge and all points in between. “We’re partnering with companies such as Intel, Dell and HP Enterprise, so that they have Predix on the edge. A lot of the initial understanding about Predix was the cloud, but you also need to be able to do that type of analysis on the edge,” said Barzdukas. “We’re bringing on critical applications from Meridium, ServiceMax, Wise.io, Bit Stew Systems, Nurego and Wurldtech. Asset performance management and field service management are critical applications.”

Predix Machine is a software stack. “We have the ability to catch the information and run the analytics there on the edge,” said Barzdukas. It can run on devices down to single-board computers.

“The edge is about capturing data when you have low latency; when you want to do the historical analysis or use external data, that’s when you move to the cloud,” explained Barzdukas.

5 themes of Predix

1. Scale the platform. This includes security and compliance for the industrial space. What’s certified? What’s governed? “Predix can automate security in the application, hardening the platform at every connection and layer,” said Barzdukas. “Design, develop and deploy for continuous monitoring. The higher-level controls you need in the industrial space—those are the differentiators with Predix.”

2. Support digital twin use cases. Think about how something has been designed and manufactured. Things are designed one way, and then they’re built one way. “Every asset is unique,” explained Barzdukas. Those assets learn more from each other, but the idea is that you have a unique piece of equipment in terms of how it’s being operated and maintained. “There are nearly 800,000 digital twins that are active in GE today,” said Barzdukas. “Context data and KPIs include manufacturing specifications, maintenance history, asset model, performance history, equipment and configuration.”

3. Extend cloud to the edge. “We plan to have products in sensors, Tier 1; controllers, Tier 2; gateways, Tier 3; and appliances, Tier 4—those four tiers are the edge—and the Predix private cloud,” explained Barzdukas. “Predix gives you the ability to manage the edge.”

4. Advance the developer experience. “We’re approaching 50 services on predix.io,” said Barzdukas. “We have a handful of apps that are published now. We’re bringing companies together.”

5. Build and maintain market places.

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