1660601869410 Ge14day2research

From Asset and System Monitoring to Enterprise Optimization

Oct. 29, 2014
Research Centers, Development Platforms, Software Suites and Monitoring Centers Cover All Points of the Industrial Internet
About the Author: Mike Bacidore
Mike Bacidore is the editor in chief for Control Design magazine. He is an award-winning columnist, earning a Gold Regional Award and a Silver National Award from the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He may be reached at 630-467-1300 ext. 444 or [email protected] or check out his .The GE Software Center of Excellence (CoE) in San Ramon, California, employs more than 1,000 people developing enabling technologies for the Industrial Internet. "Four years ago, GE made a major investment, doubling down, because it saw big opportunities," said John Magee, CoE chief marketing officer, who spoke to a packed room at the GE Intelligent Platforms 2014 User Summit in Orlando, Florida. "There's been a particularly good collaboration with GE Intelligent Platforms."

The CoE is the hub of GE's Industrial Internet thinking. "This is where the Predix platform was developed," said Magee. GE has big designs on taking optimization from the individual-asset level up to the process level and then extending across multiple assets and processes to the business level. "There's a bigger opportunity to link that with the enterprise and the whole business," explained Magee. "The data that's collected can start to be leveraged in a lot of new ways."

The big benefits of asset performance management (APM) include equipment reliability, cost reduction, risk mitigation and profitable growth. GE's APM capabilities for industrial companies include monitoring and diagnostics (M&D), asset lifecycle management, predictive maintenance and operations intelligence.

"The data that's collected can start to be leveraged in a lot of new ways." GE's John Magee on the company's major investments in software analytics capabilities.

"What does it take to focus on APM?" asked Magee. "We've got to have connectivity and data. M&D has been around for years, but the potential goes much deeper. Real-time visibility makes for better decisions about asset lifecycle management. And operations intelligence is getting the right information to the right people when they need it."

Leveraging the technology requires connecting to a lot of different devices, so systems, and not just assets, can be optimized. GE's also focusing on mobility and cloud-based collection and analytics, but not by neglecting local data needs. "Industrial customers are subject to a lot of regulatory requirements," explained Magee. "It's not all about putting everything in the cloud. We need to be able to run analytics where they need to run. There are reasons to keep some processing local and some in the cloud."

The Predix software platform is a way for GE to develop Industrial Internet solutions that close the gap between operations technology (OT), such as PLCs, gateways and SCADA, and business systems (IT), which include ERP, CRM and supply chain systems.

GE's Proficy Monitoring & Analysis Suite (PMAS) is an integrated stack of industrial data-management and analytics software coupled with industry-specific solutions and cloud services. It comprises solutions that match neatly with the points on GE's Industrial Internet Maturity Model—connect, monitor, analyze, predict and optimize.

Proficy Historian and Historian HD provide the abilities to connect and monitor. "Historian can be deployed in a machine control and HMI SCADA all the way up to the cloud," explained David Bell, commercial leader, GE Intelligent Platforms. "It scales in all of those levels. We're employing some visualization technology from the Predix platform, and it's based on HTML5 Web technologies, so it allows you to have the Web browser automatically adjust to your display."

Analysis capabilities come from Proficy Historian Analysis, the companion product to Historian, which has been fully migrated to the Predix visualization platform in HTML5 that allows browser-based access to data for ad hoc analysis, and from Proficy Knowledge Center, which expands on the capabilities in Historian Analysis to be more of a fleet management solution. For a view of many assets distributed across an organization, Proficy Knowledge Center has geographic views and dashboards. Further, it integrates with the Industrial Performance and Reliability Center (IPRC), a GE monitoring center in Lisle, Illinois, where analysts using Proficy SmartSignal can keep predictive tabs on equipment on one's behalf. Proficy SmartSignal detects the very early signs of deterioration and failure, allowing more proactive maintenance strategies.

The final step, optimization, is enabled by Proficy CSense. From managing data and analyzing it to visualization and workflow, users can take the analyzed data and do something with it. PMAS supports APM through M&D, predictive maintenance and, most importantly, operations intelligence. "How do you improve your operations?" asked Bell. "This is beyond just diagnostics. The idea is providing a stack of software that allows people to access data and support when they're not at the control panel. Regardless of where you are, you can help to support the operation of the equipment."

SmartSignal is just one piece of the PMAS being used by the IPRC. "We help customers to find the earliest indications of failure," said Chad Stoecker, who manages the IPRC. "Our experienced equipment and software engineers monitor more than 5,500 assets with more than 200,000 sensors seven days a week for more than 85 sites globally in mining, oil and gas, power generation and aviation. Each week, we average 1,100 advisories, 100 cases, in which we notify customers of a problem, and 40 catches, where customers confirm back to us that they wrote a work order or did maintenance to correct a problem."

The biggest hurdle to success for the IPRC and PMAS is the acceptance of automated diagnostics and analysis. "We're really in the business of helping customers make cultural transitions in their companies," explained Stoecker. "We have to collaborate with customers and help them drive a proactive maintenance culture. Collaboration and trust is needed to drive truly remarkable results."

Stoecker described one example, which involved a combustion turbine at an oil and gas facility. At first, a small increase in vibration was noted, but the customer needed to be convinced that the increased vibrations indicated damaged blades on the turbine. Stoecker's group continued to monitor the turbine. The vibration went away temporarily and then reappeared. "We brought in a vibration expert to convince them," he said. "The blade was three to five days from failure. The replacement was done during a scheduled outage, saving the company $30 million of potential lost production and repair costs."

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