GE unveils M2M tech for global energy, transport, health industries

General Electric begins its march to an "Industrial Internet" revolution with sensor-laden services for railroads, airplanes, hospitals, utilities and manufacturers.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

We learned yesterday in an essay written by General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt that the American conglomerate believes machine-to-machine, or "M2M" for short, advances will fundamentally alter the way business operates.

This morning, it began walking the talk by announcing nine new technologies and services it believes will help airlines, railroads, hospitals, manufacturers and utility companies around the world increase productivity and reduce costs -- some $150 billion in waste, it claims.

All this, just by connecting industrial machinery to the Internet.

The nine new technologies and services are focused on product diagnostics software and analytics that GE says will optimize networks, assets, plants and facilities.

The idea: boost service quality and productivity, with an eye toward a 1 percent efficiency gain across global industries.

That's no small task -- a 1 percent fuel savings for the global energy industry translates to $66 billion in savings. A 1 percent fuel savings for the global aviation industry translates to $30 billion. For healthcare, 1 percent operational savings translates to $63 billion. Et cetera.

"The Internet has changed the way we consume information and talk with each other, but now it can do more," Immelt says. "By connecting intelligent machines to each other and ultimately to people, and by combining software and big data analytics, we can push the boundaries of physical and material sciences to change the way the world works."

Nine technologies were unveiled for today, with 20 to come in 2013.

Today's array:

Aviation: A new joint venture with Accenture called Taleris will use "Intelligent Operations" tech -- proprietary algorithms -- to analyze data from “tip to tail” sensors for multiple aircraft parts. The idea: monitor, diagnose and make predictive recommendations to optimize aircraft maintenance and flight operations. No customers were named for this. A second offering -- not part of the joint venture -- has GE using proprietary algorithms to evaluate operations data to fund fuel consumption savings opportunities. (It calls it "Fuel & Carbon Solutions.) Air Asia will be the first to use it.

Rail: The RailConnect Transportation Management System and Movement Planner System use analytics to give real-time access to critical information so railroads can move more freight faster and more intelligently. Norfolk Southern in the U.S. will be the first to use it.

Energy (Grid): The "Grid IQ" software-as-a-service platform uses cloud computing to let utilities better monitor, manage and control the electricity grid with a shorter deploy time and lower cost, GE says. The idea: take pressure off a company's budget for capital expenditures and move it to the one for operating expenditures. Electric Cities of Georgia and the City of Norcross, Georgia will be the first to use it. Additionally, GE's rolling out real-time monitoring on power generation equipment, dubbed "Flex Efficiency Advantage." Korean Southern Power will be the first to use it.

Energy (Oil & Gas): An underwater remote monitoring system GE calls "Subsea Integrity Management" intends to increase production reliability for deepwater drillers with data from sensors measuring vibration, temperature, and leak detection for well heads, manifolds and production stations. Shell will be the first to roll this out.

Healthcare: The company's Hospital Operations Management offering integrates bed assignment, departmental workflow, patient flow, transport, and equipment management to reduce wait times and enable more efficient care. Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City will be the first to use it. There's also what GE calls "DoseWatch," monitoring software for patient radiation dosing. The University of Washington will be the first to use this.

Manufacturing: The company's "Real-Time Operational Intelligence" software intends to give manufacturers a plant-wide perspective on operations. The idea: find adverse plant conditions, equipment risk and process breaches that could throw a wrench in the final product. JHP Pharmaceuticals will be the first to use it.

Whether you believe the term "Industrial Internet" is valid or find it merely marketing fluff, it's clear that GE and its rivals can't continue to drive industrial progress without the use of connected technology. It's a convergence of two very different kinds of machines: those with pistons, and those with processors.

Images: GE

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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