The Industrial Internet in the Middle East: Pushing the Boundaries of Man and Machines
We’ve read about light bulbs with IP addresses and smart home appliances you can control from your computer or phone. While these sound neat and hint at our future, it turns out they are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the scale of benefits to be had by linking Internet and machine.
According to a recent landmark study by GE, bringing together the power of the Internet and industrial machines – what the study calls the “Industrial Internet” – holds the promise of stronger economic growth, better and more jobs, and rising living standards. With all three of these outcomes among the top priorities of governments across the Middle East and North Africa, the impact of the Industrial Internet to this region could be huge.
In fact, the study, called “Industrial Internet: Pushing the Boundaries of Minds and Machines,” suggests that big gains could be had by emerging economies that are able to leapfrog legacy technologies and infrastructure costs by embracing the Industrial Internet.
Defining ‘Industrial Internet’
But what does “Industrial Internet” really mean? The study says the Industrial Internet begins when we embed sensors and other advanced instrumentation in an array of machines, from the most simple to the most complex. This allows the collection and analysis of an enormous amount of data, which can be used to improve machine performance, and inevitably the efficiency of the systems and networks that link them. Even the data itself can become “intelligent,” instantly knowing which users it needs to reach.
Three key elements make up the Industrial Internet: Intelligent Machines that connect the world’s machines, facilities, fleets and networks with advanced sensors, controls and software applications; Advanced Analytics that combine the power of physics-based analytics, predictive algorithms, automation and deep domain expertise; and People at Work who are connected, whether in the office, lab, plant or on the move, any time to support more intelligent design, operations, maintenance and higher service quality and safety.
Efficiencies and productivity gains
The power of the Industrial Internet can be implemented in many different industrial settings and in economies across the globe. From healthcare, oil & gas, and power generation to aviation and railroads, the Industrial Internet can improve performance. More specifically, the Industrial Internet can result in better health outcomes at lower cost, substantial savings in fuel and energy for all kinds of systems, and better performing and longer-lived physical assets.
This translates into greater efficiencies and improved productivity across any given economy. Productivity gains, in turn, drive increases in income. This is particularly helpful in the Middle East, where the UN Development Program’s Arab Development Challenges Report 2011 identified increasing labor productivity as one of the keys to boosting economic development.
The GE study finds that if broadly implemented, the Industrial Internet could add $10-15 trillion to global GDP over the next 20 years. Plus, if the Industrial Internet achieves just a one-percent improvement in efficiency, then the results could be substantial. For example, if the global aviation sector could achieve one percent in fuel savings, the cost benefit would be $30 billion over 15 years; fuel savings of one percent in the gas-fired power generation sector would cut costs by $66 billion; in healthcare, a one-percent reduction in system inefficiencies could save $63 billion, while in oil & gas, a one-percent reduction in capital expenditures would save $90 billion over 15 years.
We’ll further explore this report in future posts, but to view the study in its entirety, click here.