Look what GE can do with industrial IoT

The company's Minds + Machines conference in San Francisco showcased a lot of systems for collecting and using field data in industry

20161116 ge minds and machines 2016 wide overview
Credit: Stephen Lawson
Look what GE can do with industrial IoT

General Electric showcased its industrial internet of things solutions and partnerships this week at its annual Minds + Machines conference in San Francisco this week. The industrial powerhouse is transforming itself into an IoT software and services company focused on improving customers' efficiency, productivity and revenue streams.

20161115 ge minds and machines iot pipeline sensors
Credit: Stephen Lawson
Know your pipelines

These small ultrasound sensors strapped to a section of pipe can detect corrosion on the inside walls of the pipe in real time. Sensors can be mounted in different patterns depending on what a utility or oil and gas company wants to measure. The readings go over the air to a local analytics node and then on to the cloud, feeding a map on a dashboard that shows where and how much the pipeline is damaged.

20161116 ge minds and machines inspection drones
Credit: Stephen Lawson
Fire? Send a drone!

GE is working on using drones to inspect industrial infrastructure in places that may not be safe or easy for workers to visit. For example, if a temperature sensor detects a possible fire at an industrial site, the drone might find its way to the GPS coordinates given by the sensor and check it out. Live video and other information would help dispatchers decide whether to send out one specialist or call the fire department for a bigger catastrophe.

20161115 ge minds and machines 2016 iot inspection robot
Credit: Stephen Lawson
An intrepid inspector

This commercially available robot climbs around things like pipelines in the energy and oil and gas industries. In this case, it can travel vertically because its wheels are magnetic. The robot is a platform for different kinds of sensors, such as cameras, pressure sensors and lasers for surface profiling, that can be mounted on top.

20161116 ge minds and machines iot miniature inspection robot
Credit: Stephen Lawson
Going miniature

The inspection robot business was a GE acquisition from the European industrial giant Alsthom and is still based in Switzerland. It's now developing a much smaller version of the robot in the previous slide so companies can check out even tighter spaces. Unlike the larger unit, this one would be battery-powered and transmit its findings wirelessly.

20161116 ge minds and machines schindler elevator iot demo
Credit: Stephen Lawson
Taking elevators to a higher level

An elevator's up-and-down movement creates wind that may push dust and grime into the door mechanism, eventually keeping the doors from opening properly. Schindler Group, which operates more than 1.5 million elevators and escalators worldwide, has partnered with GE to develop sensors that can detect this buildup using vibration. It's one of several kinds of data that can be used for predictive maintenance on the elevators, preventing unexpected outages.

20161115 ge minds and machines 2016 iot rail locomotive computing
Credit: Stephen Lawson
Data analysis rides the rails

GE's GoLINC Mobile Data Center is a computing and communications platform mounted inside a locomotive. It replaces a plethora of specialized monitoring and management systems that couldn't talk to each other until regulations led the industry toward common standards. Among other things, GoLINC may soon allow cameras on trains inspect track conditions, generating alerts based on image analysis and removing the need for frequent truck rolls to check the tracks.

20161115 ge minds and machines 2016 iot clean green energy wind turbine model
Credit: Stephen Lawson
Big data blows into the wind business

GE has applied IoT to wind turbines, using sensors and data analysis to feed decisions about which turbines to run at what times. If there isn't enough wind, the cost of running a turbine may outweigh the power it could generate. Weather records, the location of each turbine, real-time prices, and the predicted life expectancy of parts based on historical failure rates can all play into those decisions.