When Hardware Met Software: The “Killer Advantage”
By David Lurie
From Amazon to Zynga, many companies glean powerful business insights from slicing, sorting and analyzing data. But GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt says it is the combination of big iron and big data that gives his company “a killer competitive advantage.”
Speaking yesterday at the Electrical Products Group Conference in Florida, an annual gathering of industrial executives, Wall Street analyst and investors, Immelt said that as a maker of both machines and software like Predix, GE’s “ability to combine the knowledge of the assets, the physics and the analytics,” gave an edge to its customers and to itself.
Immelt said that by the end of 2017, GE software will manage and monitor 500,000 machines and other assets, generate an estimated $8 billion dollars in annual revenue and $500 million in productivity gains for GE. He said that GE’s $1 billion investment in software has been paying for itself “with our own productivity savings, so as an investor you kind of get the growth for free.”
Nearly a month after he announced the company’s exit from banking and the sale of the bulk of GE Capital, Immelt said the company remains focused on shaping the next industrial era. You can find his presentationhere.
Our slideshow below illustrates a handful of recent combinations of machines and software.
Last fall, GE installed its 25,000th wind turbine. Now the company is making thewind farm digital. Ganesh Bell, chief digital officer at GE Power & Water, says software and analytics will allow the company to create a virtual digital twin of any wind farm, gather data, learn from it and optimize the farm. He says that the digital wind farm could produce as much as 20 percent more electricity from the same wind.
A jet engine with GE technology inside takes off every two seconds and that frequency will soon increase. With a running tally of 8,900 orders valued around $115 billion (U.S. list price), the LEAP, which will enter service next year, is already the bestselling jet engine in GE Aviation’s history. The engine was developed by CFM International, a 50/50 joint venture between GE Aviation and France’s Snecma (Safran). But GE Aviation engineers are also connecting engines and entire planes to the Industrial Internet. Their systems look for hidden patterns and saving opportunities, and allow airlines to cut their annual fuel bill by more than 1 percent. That’s on average about 550 pounds of jet fuel – the equivalent of 11 packed suitcases – per hour of flight.
GE’s Tier 4 locomotive is the first freight train engine that meets the U.S. government’s strict Tier 4 emission standards. Orders for the machine now stand at a record $40 billion. In Australia, at the Roy Hill iron ore mine, GE locomotives connected to the Industrial Internet will send 9 million data points every hour to a system called Locotrol Distributed Power, which uses it to manage the movement of the train while it’s en route.