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GE highlights cloud, IoT vision for factories

Posted: 02 Oct 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:General Electric? cloud? IoT? Internet? analytics?

General Electric (GE) has laid down its plan for connecting manufacturing and industry to the Internet. The company demonstrated analytics platforms alongside hardware at an industrial Internet event with the goal of improving efficiency in a world where multi-year plans are no longer the main road mapping tool.

"[The Internet] has not been fully realised throughout [the industrial segment] yet," said Rich Carpenter, chief of strategy for GE intelligent platforms. "If you're going to have a brilliant factory, brilliant machines, you need software."

Yet it's challenging to connect equipment, a large chunk of which is decades old, in volume. To solve this problem, GE developed a number of "field agents" or gateways that can be directly attached to a piece of factory equipment and connect to a network. The field agents take about four hours to connect equipment and allow an operator to locally manage the machine, as well as provision information between the field agent and cloud.

GE's vision for connected systems

The field agents come in a variety of form factors with off-the-shelf Intel chip sets, including one with a quad-core i7 processor that could connect 30-40 pieces of equipment. Other, smaller devices run Windows and Linux, and can process at the edge before sending data to the cloud.

GE's vision for connected systems is based on an open-source cloud platform-as-service called Predix, which connects and captures data from machines, then does processing locally or in the cloud to feed data analytics programmes. Predix was developed within GE about four years ago and is now available for customers.

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