Industry as we know it is currently going through its fourth “revolution” or 4.0. This isn’t really news though, but how were getting there sure is. Experts say were about a quarter of the way through the transition and some of positivity this transition can have is the increased flexibility manufacturers have in their business models, real time information on production output, performance, and maintenance and safety protocol.
Part of the challenge in connecting machines and the internet is what to do with all of the data. The solution to this is GE’s Industrial Internet and its Data Lake. GE invested 110 million into a company called Pivotal to help them develop this “lake” and take Industry 4.0 to the next level. Presented by GE are massive performance figures like “two thousand times faster data analysis” and “ten times cheaper to operate”.
The concept of Industry 4.0 is dependent on our factories and machines having embedded sensors and devices so that they may talk to their handlers, so this is nothing totally mind blowing. How GE’s Data Lake and its Industrial Internet differ is that a GE turbine running 35000 feet in the air can transmit relevant data back to not only GE but the airline who is operating the plane. The captured “metadata” is then compiled and stored so that the airline can then access that data as a reference for their maintenance on the turbine. But that’s not all, that “metadata” mentioned earlier can also provide information on why the last engine service was needed and how to avoid potentially costly issues later. Smart pipelines being monitored using Predix, which is GE’s industrial software, become more efficient. Those same pipelines fuel the jets turbines and the cycle continues, just more efficiently. Industry 4.0 is really a beautiful thing because it’s all encompassing, IoT and M2M all fall within it scope. What’s rare is a company that truly integrates all of these things into its product offerings.
Other companies like Bosch and Siemens produce IT solutions and bits of technology to be attached to manufacturing equipment but GE produces the actual machinery, totally integrated data gathering solutions if you like. Some of the technology employed are things like 3D printed sensors that can be put in very hard to reach areas on a turbine and withstand two thousand degrees! As a matter of fact, 3D printing has become the “go to” for quickly and cheaply producing prototypes from crowd sourced ideas. When all of these technologies are used in unison, it’s safe to say that industry 4.0 is a revolution.