Smart Business Infrastructure – Make in India: Predix, the Engine of Modern Manufacturing

 

This breakfast meeting was held on 29th September, in Chennai, featuring guest speaker Mr. Vivek Mehrotra, Director, Regional Engagement – Predix & Apps (APAC), GE India and chaired by Mr. Ashwin Ravindranath, Partner EY India and Member of the Executive Committee.

 

How can we ensure innovation, competitiveness, increased income and a better quality of life? The answer, surprisingly, lies in manufacturing. The link between manufacturing and economic growth is critical. Manufacturing investments create ripples across the economy, creating jobs and growth in other industries. Throughout industrial history, at the core of any thriving economy has been a flourishing manufacturing sector. Manufacturing industry in India has gone through various phases of development over the period of time and promises to be one of the high growth sectors in the coming years.

 

Gone are the days of grimy smokestacks and oily rags, the biggest changes to the factory of the future will come from technology? Manufacturers have focused on innovation since the first assembly line was established. Every manufacturer understands that the primary way to differentiate its products is to deliver more customer-focused innovation than the competition.

 

We know about best practices, but what we really need to think is in terms of next practices and adoption of technology. It is estimated that more than 50 billion machines will be connected to the Internet by 2020. The Internet of Things (IoT) has already redefined and transformed every aspect of how we live and work. As it evolves, IoT promises a new era of automation and data-driven decisions to create new business processes and revenue models. Industrial internet on the other hand is expected to grow about double the rate as consumer internet.

 

Mr. Vivek Mehrotra, a member of the GE team that developed Predix, made a very passionate and powerful presentation on how Predix would change the way industry operates. Predix, is a powerful new software platform developed by GE specifically to connect people, data and machines over the industrial internet.

 

As the world’s first industrial operation system, Predix powers the modern digital industrial businesses that drive the global economy. Predix-based applications are connecting industrial assets, collecting, and analyzing data and delivering real-time insights for optimizing industrial infrastructure and operations, including GE and non-GE assets.

 

Predix is purpose-built platform-as-a-service (PaaS) for developing, deploying, operating and monetizing industrial internet applications.

Predix is General Electric‘s software platform for the collection of data from industrial machines. General Electric plans to support the growing industrial internet of things with cloud servers and an app store. GE is a member of the Industrial Internet Consortium which works to aid the development and use of industrial internet technologies.

 

Predix as a cloud-based PaaS (platform as a service) is claimed to enable industrial-scale analytics for asset performance management (APM) and operations optimization by providing a standard way to connect machines, data, and people. GE expects Predix software to do for factories and plants what Apple‘s iOS did for cell phones. The software was introduced to the market and made available to all companies in 2015. Built on Cloud Foundry open source technology, Predix provides a microservices based delivery model with a distributed architecture (cloud, and on-machine).

 

What Predix is after is system wide optimization. Instead of making one piece of equipment better, Predix aims to create a detailed model that spans an entire system, such as aircraft operations. The view created by this model allows both improved optimization of each part of the system (such as a turbine blade) and optimization of the entire system (such as airline operations).

 

To encourage industry innovators to use the Predix platform, GE has  opened Predix to other software developers. Predix is also a technology platform, not deployed on a phone that you hold in your hand, but rather behind the closed doors of a data center connected to data lakes and other forms of big data storage.

 

Predix could also be deployed in the cloud to make it more widely accessible and available. There’s even a version that can run on machines like jet engines, gas turbines, and locomotives. But it’s all there to do the same thing – to run apps that allow us to do big data analytics, monitor machines remotely and have them ‘talk’ to each other. Like the cemented train platform, it provides a stable and scalable way to quickly develop and deploy new applications. Using Predix would increase efficiencies in the way we do business as it shares a common base, is scalable and has features that can be tweaked to suit a wide array of operations and run big data analytics. This translates into faster value for customers.

 

What makes GE so unique is the installed machine base within GE which has given the Predix developers, the deep domain expertise of the engineers that built them, tightly coupled with a global network of data scientists. To do this right, the GE team used the physics-based analytical skills of the engineers who understand why something is happening. Secondly, the data scientists who, like miners of minerals, go deep down into the lode of data looking for valuable things to surface. They look for patterns and connections that we may have not even thought about. It’s this marriage of the physical and digital that creates the most powerful result.

 

Predix is a marriage of operational technology and information technology, or OT and IT. Operational technology (OT), works on data from machines, jet engines, MRIs and turbines that can now communicate this data over the industrial internet. Bringing these two worlds together is analogous to the union of data scientists and engineers. Predix uses OT and IT together to monitor the machines remotely, detect and adapt to changes, and predict future behavior.

 

With Predix it is possible to check on a machine from a remote location. Predix is a game changer. It gives us the intelligence to tell what’s going on in a machine, whether something’s wrong, and what we can be done about it before it affects our customers. Like doctors, Predix can also use analytics to predict when the machines may fail in the future.

 

There are apps called Predictivity solutions. They run on Predix just like apps run on a smartphone in a secure, scalable and consistent way. Predictivity apps can also keep an eye on locomotives, collect data about heat and vibration, and predict when you need to perform maintenance or replace parts. There many solutions like this across all GE industries. In fact, this year GE is on track to drive over $1 billion of value from them.

 

GE has opened up the Predix platform as it becomes more powerful the more people use it.  GE will continue using it, but making it available externally will also allow GE customers and business partners to write their own software and become more successful. GE would like Predix to become the Android or iOS of the machine world. Mr. Vivek Mehrotra said that “Predix will become the language of the industrial internet.”