Interview: Beena Ammanath, GE on the Industrial Internet for Data-driven Innovation

We discuss the role of Analytics at GE, Industrial Internet and how it is different from consumer internet, and the key capabilities of Predix.

Beena-AmmanathBeena Ammanath is Executive Director for Data and Analytics at GE. She works across the GE businesses to drive analytics development leveraging big data technologies. During her time at GE, she has built an innovative team of big data engineers and data analysts, focused on delivering scalable business outcomes. She is passionate about data and analytics to aid cross functional teams to derive data insights, aid teams in articulating questions they did not know they had and help view data in more effective ways.

Beena has over 23 years’ experience in the data arena with a number of international organizations including British Telecom, E*trade, Thomson Reuters and Silicon Valley startups in engineering and management positions. She holds a Masters in Computer Science and MBA in Finance.

Here is my interview with her:

Anmol Rajpurohit: Q1. What role does Analytics play at GE? Can you please share a few examples of the kind of Data Science problems you work on at GE?

ge-logoBeena AmmanathThrough the connection of brilliant machines with people at work, or what we call the Industrial Internet, GE uses data analytics to find new ways to address major global challenges and improve healthcare, increase transportation and energy efficiency, and eliminate waste across every major industry. Analytics are one way that we drive new services offerings to help our customers optimize the availability and performance of their assets and operations.

A few examples:

The airline industry spends $200bn on fuel per year so a 2% saving is $4bn. GE provides software that enables airline pilots to manage fuel efficiency.

Another product, Movement Planner, is a cruise control system for train drivers. vegetation-power-linesThe technology assesses the terrain and the location of the train to calculate the optimal speed to run the locomotive for fuel economy.

Vegetation falling on power lines is the biggest cause of electricity outages. Software and analytics developed at GE is now being used by a Canadian electricity supplier to prune back trees cost-effectively along its electricity distribution lines.

In a wind farm the wind turbines at the front affect the turbines behind them. This may lead to vibrations causing a failure due to a stress fracture on the turbine's blades. We can adjust turbines based on the wind. We adjust the blade in real time to avoid vibration. As a result GE is able to deliver a 2 to 5% improvement on the efficiency of the wind farm.

As you can see, these are really impactful outcomes leveraging data science.

AR: 2. How do you define "Industrial Internet"? How is it different from the regular, consumer internet?

BA: When 1 billion people become connected two decades ago, the term "Consumer Internet" was coined. It speaks to the phenomenal transformation and disruption we have seen in the consumer segments, whether it be media, entertainment, marketing, advertising or retail. We believe the same thing is happening in the industrial world, as 50 billion machines get connected over the next 5-7 years. Everything is going to be connected, measured and managed.

industrial-internetThe Industrial Internet connects brilliant machines with people at work and data analytics to find new ways to address major global challenges and improve healthcare, increase transportation and energy efficiency, and eliminate waste across every major industry. The Industrial Internet will unleash a productivity revolution to build, power, move and cure the world.
The first frontier of the Internet gave consumers a voice, but the next frontier – the Industrial Internet – gives every machine a voice to predict and prevent problems and improve performance for a stronger, faster, cleaner and safer world. The global economic impact of building cleaner, safer, more productive railroads, airlines, hospitals and power plants will transform industry and help our customers be more efficient and productive. By eliminating downtime, waste and guesswork, the Industrial Internet will save hundreds of billions of dollars, unleashing a productivity revolution.
We believe that the industrial Internet could have a $15 trillion dollar impact on global GDP over the next 15 years.

I see two key differences between consumer internet and industrial internet. If you are not able to log in to your social media account, you get annoyed; but if your power goes down, you get angry, or fearful, or people in hospitals may die. Therefore, reliability is essential in the industrial world. A second challenge is durability. People are buying machines that last 20 years. That means we have to create software with a life cycle that might seem absurd in the consumer world.

AR: Q3. What is Predix? What key capabilities does it offer?

predixBA: Predix is GE’s software platform for the Industrial Internet. It provides software tools for developing and running applications that monitor machines and other devices, collect and analyze data about their performance, and deliver insights to users that help optimize industrial assets and operations.

Predix is built to address industrial-scale data and analytics and to provide a consistent standard way to connect machines, data and people. We look at four key capabilities that are the foundation for our solutions. Predix is optimized to connect machines, enabling them to become more intelligent and optimize from anywhere in the network. It is optimized for Industrial Big Data, real-time large scale analytics and asset management. ge-software

Predix is architected for rapid design and deployment of collaborative apps to deliver the right information at the right time to drive outcomes. It employs leading edge security technologies and techniques to help protect industrial data and controls access to machines, networks, and systems. In 2011, we setup GE Software, a Center of Excellence, in the Silicon Valley focused on building the Predix platform.

Second part of the interview