GE Power rolls out new predictive analytics tools

The new applications should help utilities make better use of operational data and potentially reduce outages.

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GE Power on Tuesday is rolling out a series of new predictive analytics applications for the power industry, designed to help keep electric grids operating more smoothly. The new tools use data from transmission and distribution networks and are connected via a common data fabric.

The new applications include:

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  • Storm Readiness, which uses high-resolution weather forecasts, outage history, crew response and geographic data to accurately forecast a storm's impact. Utilities can use this information to prepare response crews and equipment ahead of storms, to reduce outage restoration time and improve crew safety.
  • Network Connectivity, which uses operational data to find errors and maintain network data integrity. Data errors with respect to electrical connectivity are often due to manual entry errors, GE says -- either at the customer or equipment level. By automatically finding and correcting those errors, utilities can more efficiently dispatch crews and provide better customer service. 
  • Effective Inertia, which forecasts and mitigates the impact of inertia from large power generators on grid reliability. System inertia is a property of the grid that relates to the imbalance of supply and demand for power -- it's especially relevant in regions with high renewable energy use. By forecasting system inertia, utilities can maintain better grid stability, potentially reducing blackouts.

The new applications come during a turbulent time for GE -- and GE Power in particular. After struggling with debt and growth in various units, GE has described 2019 as "a reset year." In its last earnings report in late April, the company said its power business brought in an operating profit $81 million -- down 71 percent year-over-year.

Back in December, GE announced plans to launch a separate GE industrial IoT subsidiary, which will include GE Power's digital and grid software solutions. GE said the new company will have about $1.2 billion in revenue and a global base of companies.

Still, GE has stressed that it's early days for the use of data analytics in the power industry.

"The energy industry today is leveraging a small fraction of their operational data," Steven Martin, acting CEO for GE Digital and chief digital officer for GE Power, said in a statement. "Our Grid Analytics enable utilities to use more of that data and orchestrate their networks and the workers who operate them in ways previously unimagined – not only for current processes, but also for future unforeseen scenarios."

Earlier this year, Martin told ZDNet that the real value of industrial IoT will be seen in network-level optimization.

"Where I don't think about optimizing that particular asset, I think about a higher-level function, going back to running a different part profile to a manufacturing plant for a day based on the yield, or based on the need, or the output for the customer and what's available for logistics," he said. "That's not necessarily getting the most out of that asset. That's about getting the most economic yield out of an overall opportunity where you do factor in economics."

As industrial IoT matures, other legacy players in the infrastructure management space are also becoming software vendors too. IBM, Siemens and Honeywell are other key players: