CIOs Seek GE’s Help In Maximizing How Factory Equipment Is Used

GE is looking into networking gear in order to capture information from machines
GE is looking into networking gear in order to capture information from machines
Image Credit: Martin Abegglen

CIOs have discovered that they have a bit of a problem on their hands. The equipment that General Electric (GE) sells, power plant electrical gear, etc. to run factories is so big and so complex that nobody really understands how to use it correctly. The GE products can be tuned to run at a peak level, but nobody knows what controls should be set to what values or when. This is a problems that the person who has the CIO job is going to have to step in and solve.

Too Much Data Requires Specialized Hardware

The problem that CIOs have run into is that the machines that their company uses to create the services and products that customers purchase have simply become too large and too complex. In order to get the greatest efficiency out of these tools, the company needs the help of the IT department in order to do a better job of monitoring and adjusting the operation of the equipment. This is where the person in the CIO position needs the help of the vendor who originally built the equipment, like GE.

GE realizes that CIOs have to help out the company. In order to allow them to do this, GE is doing two different things. The first thing that they’ve done is to create a software platform that has the ability to process the data that has been collected from GE industrial equipment. This product is called the Predix software platform. However, before this software can be used, the data has to get from the equipment to the software. This is where things can get a bit tricky because the equipment was never intended to share its data externally.

GE has realized that in order for CIOs to use their Predix software, they are going to have to create a new computer network that will allow data to get from the company’s industrial equipment to the software. In order to make this happen, GE is teaming up with Hewlett Packard and Cisco to create customized hardware. This hardware will consist of both servers and routers. This equipment needs to be hardened in order to be able to work in a harsh industrial environment.

Next Steps In Harnessing The Data Tsunami

One of things that CIOs spend a great deal of time on is securing the company’s network. As we move forward and start to collect operational data from the equipment that runs the company, CIOs need to be very careful what they do with this data. The goal is to move it into the cloud, but as we all realize if we do this then there is always the possibility of a security breech.

GE has realized that some CIOs may not feel comfortable moving such valuable data up into the cloud. This is why they have gone ahead and created a different product offering. The company has created what they are calling a Predix box that will allow the Predix software to be run onsite and will eliminate the need to move data offsite. The hardware and the software will allow the equipment’s performance and health to be monitored and external data sources such as weather and the current price of a product that is being produced can be monitored in order to adjust the operation of the machine.

An important point that GE realizes and that CIOs have to understand is that the way that things are today is only temporary. The monitoring of machines in order to determine their real time operation and to be able to make adjustments to them is a critical need for all businesses. In fact, it’s so important that equipment manufacturers are starting to build the ability to export operational data into their equipment. What this means is that the additional servers and routers that are currently required will soon go away and will come built-in to the equipment that the company uses.

What All Of This Means For You

CIOs who work for companies who understand the importance of information technology have a new job. The equipment that the company is using to create products and services needs to be optimized in order to reduce costs and maximize output. However, in order to accomplish this a great deal of data that is being created by the industrial equipment has to be collected and processed. This is where a CIO may need help from a vendor like GE.

GE has realized that their customers have a need to collect and process data from the equipment that they have sold to them. They have created a software platform to process the data called Predix. However, in order to get the data from the equipment to the software GE is partnering with server and router manufactures in order to create products that will be hardened enough to stand the industrial environment. These specialty products won’t be needed in the future when industrial equipment comes equipped with monitoring servers and routers built into them.

The arrival of cloud computing has made the ability to process the large quantities of information that can be collected from industrial equipment easier to manage. CIOs know that they are responsible for creating solutions that will allow the company to maximize the value that they get from their machines. By working with vendors such as GE, the data can be collected, transported, and then processed. Take the time to hook your industrial equipment up to the cloud and you just might be surprised at what you discover.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that a CIO should connect all of the company’s equipment to the cloud all at once?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

There is a certain thrill that runs through all of us when we assumed the CIO position. Finally, we are going to be in a position of power from which we can make the changes that we’ve always known needed to happen in order to maximize the importance of information technology. However, as is the case with all jobs, very quickly we start to understand that having the CIO job comes with its own set of unique challenges. These challenges just seem to be getting larger and larger and right now, CIOs are facing a mountain of them – what should they be doing?