How Are Brilliant Machines Created?

The IoT or the Internet of Things has one more feather in its cap. It has now conquered the industrial machine. With GE spearheading the initiative, the new type of industrial machines is aptly named Brilliant Machines.

Although GE is pouring nearly $1.5 billion into the amalgamation of industrial internet and big data, their plan is rather simple. The industrial internet is actually the business version of the Internet of Things. Instead of people being interconnected, here machines talk to each other. GE plans to mix that connectivity with analytics and software so that the entire arrangement becomes very efficient.

GE has started their foray with a battery factory. Covering a work area of nearly 180,000 square feet, the factory is packed with more than 10,000 sensors. Whatever happens within the factory, the sensors keep a track. This includes, for instance, the type of powders that are used to create the ceramics for use in the batteries and the temperatures of the ovens baking these ceramics. They also monitor the air pressure, the time each battery spends inside a particular oven or in a part of the manufacturing line. With smartphones connected via Wi-Fi, employees are able to keep track of all what is going on.

How does all this help GE? Gathering all this data, GE was surprised to find the cause of failure of some of the parts within a battery. The parts failed when they were left in the oven for longer time. Armed with this revelation, GE is able to cut wastage by monitoring how long specific parts stay in the oven.

GE makes investments in several areas. They make gas and steam turbines where over 52 million man-hours per year translate into $7 billion worth of labor cost and all this goes to service over 55,000 turbines. GE manufactures commercial jet aircrafts that take up 205 million man-hours every year. In the world there are over 120,000 diesel electric rail engines made by GE alone that require over 50 million man-hours for annual maintenance – roughly equal to $3 billion in labor cost.

By incorporating sensors within these machines and monitoring them, GE intends to lessen the time and cost of maintaining the various machines they use for power, healthcare, aviation and rail industries. Engineers collect the machine data on their smartphones, run it through visualization software and analytics, making it easier to interpret. The best part is that no engineer has to be near a machine or even onsite to monitor the machines. They can be anywhere on the globe and yet be able to relay accurate instructions to those on the site. The amount of time and costs reduced with the wealth of information available and its analysis is really helping GE.

Brilliant Machines help GE in asset optimization and problem solving, data collection and insights, generating situational awareness and improved collaboration. For instance, for the year 2013, GE earned segmented profits such as $1.2 billion for transportation, $3.0 billion for healthcare, $4.3 billion for aviation, $2.2 billion for oil and gas, and nearly $5 billion for power and water – that is, a total profit of $15.7 billion.