GE releases new suite of Predix applications, services

The updated platform aims to put Predix tools in the hands of operators, analysts and other people in industrial businesses with non-technical roles.

Tuesday at its Minds + Machines conference, GE rolled out a new suite of applications and services for its industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platform, Predix.

The added capabilities and features should make the relatively new platform a fully competitive product in a still-nascent IIoT marketplace, GE argues. With a full suite of digital tools sitting on top of GE's industrial expertise and market presence, the company is better suited to serve IIoT needs than its competitors -- whether it's other traditional industrial competitors or technology companies moving into the industrial space like Cisco, GE Digital CEO Bill Ruh told ZDNet.

"We sit between the old guard, which is still in this proprietary world, and the new guard coming at it with a new architecture but [without] the domain or the data," Ruh said. "We really believe you need that combination of the data, the understanding of the machines... the access to the customers... that's how we're differentiating ourselves from our competitors."

The updated platform aims to put Predix tools in the hands of operators, analysts and other people in industrial businesses with non-technical roles. Recognizing that the cloud isn't sufficient for helping those people optimize industrial performance, GE is introducing new edge capabilities to Predix. The Predix Edge System enables industrial companies to place apps anywhere from small medical devices to controllers or network gateways. The system incorporates other GE devices, like Field Agent, a component of GE's Industrial Internet Control System that serves as a gateway between industrial assets and the cloud.

More from Mind + Machines: GE Power lands Exelon as Predix customer, co-innovation partner | GE Digital builds up its global presence with acquisitions, partnerships

GE is also rolling out a series of new Predix-based offerings designed for different industries and use cases, particularly in the energy sector. For instance, GE Power is expanding its Predix-powered software for customers that include power producers, utilities and grid operators. The updated Digital Power Plant software will use machine learning to give maintenance recommendations and will better connect machine data to energy trading capabilities.

Additionally, GE Oil & Gas is launching Predictive Corrosion Management, a new tool for gathering continuous inspection data from pipes and cloud-based analytics of pipe conditions. Its "digital inspection" capabilities are powered by combining GE's Rightrax ultrasonic sensors with the Predix operating system. Meanwhile, GE's Current is offering new energy management tools for a range of systems like lighting or HVAC systems. GE Energy Connections also unveiled Digital Substation, extending the maintenance optimization benefits of GE's Asset Performance Management software to the electricity grid. Lastly, GE Renewable Energy is rolling out a suite of apps called the Digital Hydro Plant for Hydro customers.

The Predix platform, which launched in 2015, faced some criticism over the summer from research firm Lux Research. The firm concluded the platform had yet to live up to its potential and faced stiff competition from the likes of Cisco's Jasper, C3 IoT and Aeris.

Ruh noted that in less than a year since the platform's release, the Predix developer community, as well as its customers and partners, serve as "proof points" of the its success. GE on Tuesday highlighted several new customers and companies with which they've expanded partnerships, including the Port of Los Angeles, Teledyne Controls, BP and Maersk Drilling. Exelon is the first GE Power customer to sign an enterprise software license, deploying the Predix platform and its Digital Power Plant and Digital Wind Farm offerings across its energy facilities.

GE's software revenues on target to increase 20 percent in 2016, Ruh noted.

"We are winning major deals, we're seeing growth... and we're talking about a product less than a year on the market," he said.

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