The Internet Grows Up

It looks like the conversation about the Internet of Things is moving from consumer products – all the phones, cars, thermostats, nanny cams, and refrigerators – to a bigger stage.  According to recent posts from General Electric, the next horizon for networked machinery and devices is cost management within industry.

The Industrial Internet, as GE calls it, is the integration of networked hardware sensors and software for the purpose of dynamically monitoring and maintaining industrial machinery. Turbines, airplanes, oil extractors, medical equipment – you name it, and GE is probably designing a way to monitor it. But why?

Two words: Massive. Savings. According to the New York Times,

“one product, designed to maximize a jet’s fuel burn while monitoring carbon emissions, would save an airline $90 million over five years. A power generation product designed to optimize turbine usage was expected to increase one utility’s profits by $28 million, while creating lower emissions per megawatt.”

A laptop can monitor performance and throttle back its processor to save battery power. A fridge keeps tabs on its temperature and kicks off the compressor to keep your fricassee from freezing. Well now, too, can a jet engine adjust its own fuel consumption to maximize distance and minimize consumption, and a hospital sterilization system determine autonomously if that scalpel needs another run through the ultrasonic washer.

It’s not just about making machines more intelligent and efficient, however; with industrial machines monitoring and reporting their own functions and efficiency, those maintaining said machines could ideally make better use of their human resources when they no longer need to standby waiting for something to go wrong. They could instead be monitoring machine functions remotely, and deploy their services as necessary, thereby reducing costs and maximizing efficiency of personnel use. GE estimates as much as $20 billion can be saved by transmitting operational info remotely to workers, approximating the following savings by industry:

POWER:

  •  Time to Service: 52 million man-hours per year
  • Estimated Value: $7 billion

AVIATION:

  • Time to Service: 205 million man-hours per year
  • Estimated Value: $10 billion

RAIL:

  • Time to Service: 52 million man-hours per year
  • Estimated Value: $3 billion

HEALTHCARE:

  • Time to Service: 4 million man-hours per year
  • Estimated Value: $250 million

GE’s idea is also estimated to provide a major boost to economies both global and domestic by creating new jobs as well as providing great potential for development of new technologies supporting the Industrial Internet. For us at Netop, this is an fascinating avenue through we could extend our current Remote Control and Secure M2M offerings and, as an international company, we’re excited to see how the Industrial Internet changes the global economy as we know it.

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