GE IP’s Proficy Software Embraces Big Data

  • August 19, 2013
  • GE Digital
  • Feature

By Bill Lydon, Editor

GE Intelligent Platforms recently announced their Proficy Monitoring & Analysis Software Suite. I spoke with Brian Courtney, General Manger Industrial Data Intelligence at GE IP, about how they are leveraging their software and data analytics experience. GE IP believes that their Software Suite is the first to address industrial big data by combining industrial Historian technology with Hadoop (High-availability distributed object-oriented platform) technology for asset health with process optimization. Hadoop is an open-source software framework that supports data-intensive distributed applications. Hadoop is licensed under the Apache v2 license. The Suite provides a means for companies to manage equipment and process data to maximize performance because it captures, stores, contextualizes and analyzes data and presents insights for fast and effective decision making.

Industrial Internet

GE IP frames this as a big step in their vision of the Industrial Internet. GE IP defines the Industrial Internet as the convergence of intelligent machines, advanced analytics, and people at work. The company forecasts that industry is “on the cusp of a paradigm shift,” moving from the Industrial Revolution to the Internet Revolution, and now to the Industrial Internet. This shift is enabled by the convergence of global industrial systems with the power of advanced computing, analytics, low-cost sensing and new levels of connectivity permitted by the Internet. GE IP believes this deeper meshing of the digital world with the world of machines holds the potential to bring about profound transformation to industry with greater speed and efficiency.

I have been discussing this theme over the last few years with a number of companies and groups that have embraced it using different terminology including the “Internet of Things,” “IP to the edge,” and “M2M.” This theme has also been part of my annual technology trends forecast which includes Enterprise Automation System, Collapsing Architecture, Big Data for information leverage, and Remote Monitoring.

Software Suite

The Proficy Monitoring & Analysis Suite has been built collaboratively with GE IP’s Software Center of Excellence. Brian Courtney emphasized, “The focus is on how do I apply analytics for asset health, process health, and process optimization to drive uptime reliability and throughput.” The Proficy Monitoring & Analysis suite is comprised of six integrated products:

  • Proficy Historian, GE IP’s data collection software.
  • Proficy Historian Analysis for data mining and visualization.
  • Proficy SmartSignal for predictive analytics for condition-based monitoring to provide early warnings of failures or deterioration.
  • Proficy CSense to troubleshoot process problems, monitor process health and create close loop process optimization.
  • Proficy Historian HD that allows storage of massively large data sets in a Hadoop cluster.
  • Proficy Knowledge Center, a console that ties the solution together with process visibility, asset health assessment and process optimization.

Courtney explained that GE IP has been using analytics for years. “Today, in the GE Industrial Performance and Reliability Center, GE engineers monitor thousands of mission critical assets for our customers to ensure uptime, asset reliability overall production throughput," said Courtney. He further noted that now they have an integrated approach to delivering these tools to users. The software facilitates advanced analytics on industrial big data to improve process performance, troubleshoot process problems, and predict and prevent asset failures. He emphasized that very few customers have the skillset to know what analytics to use and how to use them appropriately. To assist customers, GE IP is working to simplify the process and offer services to tune analytics with GE data scientists. GE IP also offers remote monitoring services.

Thoughts & Observations

GE IP is another supplier that is leveraging analytics to help customers optimize their processes. The Proficy Monitoring & Analysis software suite allows them to provide analytic services.

I encountered SmartSignal a number of years ago before GE IP purchased the company. They build models of equipment and processes that they term Similarity-based Modeling (SBM) technology and accumulate data from many users to create a database that characterizes proper operation. This data is used to identify fault patterns based on operating behavior. Model-based analytics relies on having authentic models of proper operation to detect problems and issues. The models are particularly useful for pieces of equipment where operation is characterized. The application of model-based analysis to processes requires keeping the model up to date with process and plant changes.

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