The business models for software in manufacturing and production have intriqued me for a long time. It seems that the companies are hot in pursuit of 7-figure deals and trying to figure out just who the people are within large companies with purchasing authority. Combine this with a desire to find out what's happening at GE Intelligent Platforms these days made it the right time to catch up with Erik Udstuen, GE IP business leader for software and services last Friday.
GE IP has combined acquisitions of SmartSignal and CSense with organic development to create a business to bring together data, predicting, prognostics and diagnostics into "process tools for the enterprise."
The company's developers worked on the organic part for two years reworking recording, reporting, diagnostics toward an asset intelligence solution. This included working with other GE businesses, for example, working with GE Energy to monitor gas turbine fleets around the world. The idea is to not only alert operators about pending failures, but also work with customers for process optimization. Currently GE is monitoring 1,800 power plants around the world, consolidating all the data in a data center in Atlanta. The original work was to upgrade the environment, handle the massive database and improve analytics. That work formed the foundation of today's offering.
Udstuen noted the SmartSignal patent portfolio on prognostics, among others, emphasizes monitoring major pieces of equipment and alerting on an anomoly. CSense, a S. African company focusing on deeper analytics, had developed a suite of tools including neural net, fuzzy logic and other core machine learning technologies into a machine learning environment with deep analytics. "SmartSignal focused on failures; CSense on optimization/process performance," Udstuen summarized.
The combination of the three streams into one offering solved the problems of building a massive historical database and finding the needle in the haystack--important information needed by operators in real time. Udstuen notes that in the current example of 1,800 turbines, each may collect 10,000 measurements. The number of technicians in Atlanta is quite small. So the software analytics must sift the data for the important information.
Udstuen offered another example. "We had an earthquake on the east coast six months ago that tripped out quite a bit of power generating capacity. Atlanta called operators within a couple of minutes to let them know that it was safe to restart. Just imagine if they had had to search through 10,000 data points before making a decision," he noted.
"Our vision is to be the world-class remote monitoring platform across many industries. Power generation and oil & gas are big industries for GE now. We have 60 percent of the North American power generation market today. Oil & gas is mainly upstream right now. We're expanding power generation capability globally and pushing into the oil & gas midstream," said Udstuen. "The new focus is mining--massive very remote assets spread across the world. For example Angkor America mining monitors the haul truck fleet, providing remote advice on the fleet."
In summary, "We're looking to double sales every year for the next few years. The equation for GE IP is that it has a value portfolio in the millions that GE corporatly can leverage into the billions."