Apple and GE partner to make industrial analytics iOS-accessible
GE and Apple announced a partnership today that will pave the way for putting utility analytics software Predix on iOS devices. The Predix software development kit will allow 77 utilities that work with GE to manage turbines, condensers, boiler feed pumps, and more from iPads and iPhones.
That, GE says, will ensure “that real-time data is captured and shared with field workers and remote operations using iOS devices.”
As part of the program, GE has agreed to standardize iPhones and iPads as the primary work devices for its 330,000 employees. The industrial machinery company will also make Macs available to employees who prefer them, according to Reuters.
Predix software takes data from sensors embedded in all kinds of industrial equipment used in the energy industry and uses that data to predict maintenance downtime more efficiently. This isn’t a novel idea—power plant and utility operations generally require some form of diagnostic system to avoid the kinds of catastrophic failure that causes, at best, money to be lost and, at worst, power outages to customers. Some equipment managers have home-grown systems tailored specifically to the machinery configuration that exists at their power plant. And other big companies like Siemens offer third-party diagnostic tools like GE.
Last month, GE announced that it would begin using Predix in its remote monitoring center in Atlanta, Georgia, where the company watches power plant equipment running in 60 countries from a distance. The system gets feedback from one million sensors set in industrial equipment, and when any of those sensors send back data outside of their preferred parameters, the M&D (that is, monitoring and diagnostics) center can call the owners of those assets and recommend a solution. The system gives power plant owners some advanced notice about potentially critical conditions, hopefully turning unplanned downtime into planned downtime (which is always cheaper for the power plant owners). Similarly, Siemens also has remote monitoring centers, much like GE’s center in Atlanta, in Europe and Orlando, Florida.
In a call with Ars last month, Scott Bolick, head of software strategy and product management for GE Power, called GE’s remote M&D center with asset management diagnostics the “largest industrial Internet of things use case in the world.”
GE’s software will now be more accessible for customers using iOS devices. The Predix SDK launches on October 26, and GE told Reuters that it expects the partnership to help its digital arm pull in $12 billion in revenue.
In a press release, GE contextualized the partnership: “A Predix app on iOS can notify a worker on their iPhone of a potential issue with equipment like a wind turbine and allow them to collaborate with remote teams when performing inspections and repairs, collecting relevant data instantly,” GE wrote. “These industrial apps will close the information loop faster, ultimately increasing cost savings and minimizing unplanned downtime.”