GE’s Chief Tech Strategist Discusses IoT and More

As chief technology strategist for GE’s Intelligent Platform Group, it’s Rich Carpenter’s job to envision how technology, tools and systems fit together effectively. He was instrumental in developing GE CIMPLICITY software that’s widely used in the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) space as well as the Tracker set of products that run manufacturing execution systems around the world. CIO Insight recently caught up with Carpenter and asked him for his views on the emerging Industrial Internet.

CIO Insight: How do you see the Internet of things and Industrial Internet unfolding?

Rich Carpenter: The Industrial Internet lets us connect to all of our equipment in the field and in the fleet. We already have a couple hundred thousand pieces of equipment that we’ve connected to in the industrial world, and another 100,000 in the health care world. We’re able to run analytics on everything. We’re just beginning to scratch the surface as to what’s possible in terms of delivering value back to customers through improved reliability of equipment.

CIO Insight: How do the IoT and Industrial Internet change the stakes?

Carpenter: Today, the majority of businesses react to problems that have already surfaced rather than doing things to prevent problems close to the time they would occur. There’s a need to use advanced diagnostics and predictive diagnostics to monitor equipment more effectively. As we get connectivity in place and develop better algorithms, we can change a part or component when it needs to be changed rather than at a set time frame.

CIO Insight: What are the benefits for organizations?

Carpenter: In the old world, we would take a look at a temperature and say that if it exceeds 82 degrees we must generate an alarm and somebody should go look at it. Unfortunately, this strategy produces hundreds of noise alarms–things that are transient in nature and not really important to the process. With advanced analytics we actually compare all the related process variables to each other and how they move relative to each other. We’re looking at the relationship between temperature, pressure and speed to decide if something is moving in a direction that’s bad versus looking at an individual alarm. This significantly increases the probability of detection while simultaneously reducing the probability of a false alarm. It can significantly lower operating costs and reduce labor costs.

CIO Insight: How close are systems to achieving the desired results?

Carpenter: We’re now at the point where instead of 95 out of 100 noise alarms we’re able to achieve 99.7 percent accuracy to predict a failure before it occurs.

CIO Insight: What are some of the other ways the Industrial Internet changes data models?

Carpenter: It introduces a 360-degree view of assets such as a jet engine, turbine or some other type of machine. Not only are we able to predict service and replacement far more accurately, we can begin to use the data to build better machines. The data is a goldmine for design teams. We’re also able to better understand usage models and, in some cases, introduce demand-based pricing that more accurately reflects how a product is used.

CIO Insight: Where do you see the Industrial Internet headed?

Carpenter: Today, we can capture so much data. People say they don’t know how to use 90 percent of the data they capture. Big data infrastructures and HADOOP make it possible to do things that were once unimaginable. But this requires greater organizational flexibility and new skillsets, including data scientists and data engineers. Organizations require people who can take raw data, identify business benefits and organize it in a way that makes it consumable and truly useful.

CIO Insight: Any final advice to CIOs?

Carpenter: Think in terms of the outcomes you desire. This is far more than a technology issue. It’s all about using big data, analytics and elastic compute infrastructures to affect outcomes. Organizations that get it right will enjoy a huge competitive advantage.

Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard writes about business, technology and other topics. His book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press) was released in the spring of 2015.

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