Big Data at GE
“It wasn’t just Jeff,”—as in Immelt, GE’s CEO—“who saw the potential of this,” said Bill Ruh, Vice President and Corporate Officer for GE’s Global Software Center. “There were a number of senior executives who saw the benefits from the marriage of machines and analytics. For instance, the trend of customers wanting to optimize inspection, maintenance and repair processes of our machines. Or even the potential for our machines to communicate with one another or with operators to enable intelligent decisioning. These type of instrumentation opportunities are present in locomotives, power plants and industrial facilities, so needs were mushrooming all around the company.”
Ruh highlights GE’s industrial business as a prime target for big data, referencing the health of blades on the jet engines the company manufactures. “Our sensors collect signals on the health of blades on a gas turbine engine to show things like ‘stress cracks.’ The blade monitor can generate 500 gigabytes per day—and that’s only one sensor on one turbine. There are 12,000 gas
turbines in our fleet.” The value in integrating all the sensor data onto a big data platform can reveal patterns on when blades break, allowing GE to tune its manufacturing and repair process before a break occurs.
“Most companies aren’t ready for real-time data like this,” Ruh says. “They know when to make the decisions. But we'll provide insight on how to operate the jet engine more efficiently, or when to adjust the gas turbine. The way we’ll get to the proverbial ‘Power of One’ [the value of a one percent improvement in turbine efficiency, which totals in the multiple billions] is in our
ability to operationalize this.”
Source: Big Data in Big Companies, Thomas H. Davenport and Jill Dyché, May 2013 (Go to Suggested Readings to view full article)