Published in collaboration with NCMS
Digital Manufacturing Report

News & information about the fast-moving world
of digital manufacturing, modeling & simulation

Language Flags

Building an Industrial Internet

The Big Brother of manufacturing is around the corner - you can see for yourself at General Electric's $170 million plant that opened less than a year ago in Schenectady, New York. Soon, this factory aims to keep its eyes on each individual product made, as well as each factory condition that existed during its creation.

The 180,000 square-foot sodium-nickel battery factory looks to accomplish this using more than 10,000 sensors connected through high-speed internal Ethernet stationed throughout the facility. Details such as air pressure, temperature, and even which batch of powder was used to create the ceramics of a particular battery are recorded.

And while industrial networking and big data for manufacturing aren't new, Jeff Inmelt, GE's CEO, believes the industry is on the verge of a revolution that will increase worker productivity and factory efficiency.

To back up this claim, the company is investing $1.5 billion over a three year period, much of which will be concentrated in the Schenectady plant. Bar codes and serial numbers are attached to every component of every battery that the factory produces. Employees can access this data from their iPads via Wi-Fi nodes around the factory. Managers can compare energy expenditure on one battery compared to the average; they can also perform ad hoc analyses on their workstations.

This sensor data has already produced significant insights, according to Randy T. Rausch, business analytics and manufacturing information leader at GE Energy Storage. For example, GE found that batteries that spent more than a certain time in factory ovens were more likely to fail quality tests. They have mitigated this risk by installing alarms that flash near parts that are approaching their limit.

But other manufacturers aren't convinced that GE's industrial Internet is a new idea, since many companies have been using big data analytics for years. To address this, MIT Technology Review's Michael Fitzgerald claims that GE will need to prove what a bigger network pulling in more data can do that existing systems can't.

And what about the industrial Internet revolution? Well, at the moment it's more of an intranet, says Rausch. Short term plans to integrate the outside world involve accessing weather forecasts in order to changes factory conditions in order to adjust to outside changes in temperature and humidity. But eventually, he continues, embedded chips will enable GE to track the performance of its batteries after they leave the factory.

According to Rausch, within a few years GE will be able to draw connections between the performance of one customer's dishwasher or refrigerator with the exact conditions under which each component was made, making the Internet connections between the factory floor and the outside world the most valuable of all.

Full story at MIT Technology Review

RSS Feeds

Subscribe to All Content

Feature Articles

Titan Puts a New Spin on GE’s Wind Turbine Research

Unlike traditional energy sources, wind is a trouble to tame, which has led GE to turn to advanced simulations at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to put the technology on track to cover 12 percent of the world's energy production.

Lighting a Fire Under Combustion Simulation

Combustion simulation might seem like the ultimate in esoteric technologies, but auto companies, aircraft firms and fuel designers need increasingly sophisticated software to serve the needs of 21st century engine designs. HPCwire recently got the opportunity to take a look at Reaction Design, one of the premier makers of combustion simulation software, and talk with its CEO, Bernie Rosenthal.

D-Wave Sells First Quantum Computer

On Wednesday, D-Wave Systems made history by announcing the sale of the world's first commercial quantum computer. The buyer was Lockheed Martin Corporation, who will use the machine to help solve some of their "most challenging computation problems." D-Wave co-founder and CTO Geordie Rose talks about the new system and the underlying technology.

Short Takes

Local Motors and ORNL Partner for Automotive Manufacturing

Jan 24, 2014 | Local Motors, a vehicle innovator, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have announced a new partnership that they hope will bring change to the automotive industry.

Advanced Modeling Benefits Wind Farms

May 25, 2011 | Advanced computing resources optimize the site selection of wind farms.

Not Your Parents' CFD

Oct 13, 2010 | Outdated beliefs stand in the way of greater CFD adoption.

Manufacturers Turn to HPC to Cut Testing Costs

Oct 06, 2010 | Supercomputing saves money by reducing the need for physical testing.

HPC Technology Makes Car Safety Job 1

Aug 05, 2010 | Automakers turn to computer simulations to design safer vehicles.

Sponsored Whitepapers

Technical Computing for a New Era

07/30/2013 | IBM | This white paper examines various means of adapting technical computing tools to accelerate product and services innovation across a range of commercial industries such as manufacturing, financial services, energy, healthcare, entertainment and retail. No longer is technically advanced computing limited to the confines of big government labs and academic centers. Today it is available to a wide range of organizations seeking a competitive edge.

The UberCloud HPC Experiment: Compendium of Case Studies

06/25/2013 | Intel | The UberCloud HPC Experiment has achieved the volunteer participation of 500 organizations and individuals from 48 countries with the aim of exploring the end-to-end process employed by digital manufacturing engineers to access and use remote computing resources in HPC centers and in the cloud. This Compendium of 25 case studies is an invaluable resource for engineers, managers and executives who believe in the strategic importance of applying advanced technologies to help drive their organization’s productivity to perceptible new levels.

Conferences and Events

Featured Events

Copyright © 2011-2014 Tabor Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Digital Manufacturing Report is a registered trademark of Tabor Communications, Inc. Use of this site is governed by our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.
Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Tabor Communications Inc. is prohibited.
Powered by Xtenit.