By Bruce Jenkins, President, Ora Research
A top CAE vendor has partnered with a world industrial giant to help engineering and manufacturing organizations capitalize on the Industrial Internet of Things.
Part of the recent agreement between ANSYS and General Electric expands GE’s use of ANSYS engineering simulation solutions to accommodate GE’s 2015 acquisition of Alstom’s Power and Grid businesses. But of broader import is what the deal will do to extend simulation beyond product development into operations—a key aspect of Predix, the new “Industrial Internet platform” from GE. Predix is an operating system and platform for building applications that connect to industrial assets, collect and analyze data, and deliver real-time insights for optimizing industrial infrastructure and operations.
GE characterizes Predix as “the world’s only industrial cloud offering designed specifically for industrial data and analytics across such industries as aviation, transportation, oil and gas, and healthcare. Organizations use this platform to create innovative Industrial Internet applications that turn real-time operational data into insights for better and faster decision-making while maximizing machine efficiency.”
Predix-based simulation-as-a-service apps will help analyze real-world performance of smart machines to better predict future performance
Leveraging its broad and deep portfolio of engineering simulation software, ANSYS will collaborate with GE Power Engineering to pilot new simulation-as-a-service applications built on Predix. These applications will help companies analyze the performance of smart machines in real-world operating conditions, then make confident predictions about their future performance. ANSYS explains the benefits: “Physics-based simulation with big data analytics and industrial devices augmented with embedded intelligence can reduce risk, avoid unplanned downtime and speed up new product development.”
The collaboration follows ANSYS’ announcement last September that it joined GE’s Predix Early Adopter Partner Program, through which GE provides training and co-development support for businesses getting started with Predix. The program is open to ISVs (independent software vendors) creating apps and services powered by Predix, technology partners creating Predix-ready devices and solutions, and systems integrators and consultants developing Predix-certified services.
Extending engineering simulation to the full product lifecycle
Engineering simulation software has traditionally been used in the design phase, where it has helped drive innovation in product design and development. “With the Internet of Things, simulation is becoming even more essential as advanced products now combine mechanical, fluid, electronics and embedded software,” ANSYS noted. “A complete systems-level model is now necessary to benchmark operational field data analytics with simulated system performance.” ANSYS said its collaboration with GE “will demonstrate the benefits of extending engineering simulation to the full product lifecycle, from initial design to operation and maintenance and back again to design of the next-generation machines.”
By combining machine connectivity with a data lifecycle management platform powered by engineering simulation, ANSYS and GE “will enable organizations to optimally design their products for the Industrial Internet, then take the data being relayed on their performance and use it in the development of the next generation of those products,” ANSYS concluded.
GE also partnered with PTC
This is not GE’s only such alliance with the engineering/manufacturing software industry. Around the same time as ANSYS’ initial announcement last September, GE and PTC unveiled a partnership to deliver a new manufacturing solution within GE’s Brilliant Manufacturing Suite, a set of technologies field-tested and optimized within GE’s own factories to help customers maximize manufacturing production performance through advanced real-time analytics.
The new GE-branded manufacturing solution “leverages the capabilities of PTC’s ThingWorx Industrial Internet of Things application enablement environment,” the companies said. “The result is an industry-hardened solution that features flexible dashboards and powerful data analytics integrated with GE’s software capabilities on the manufacturing plant floor.” The joint solution connects disparate systems from shop floor to ERP, and offers a dashboard and differentiated user experience with consumer-like drag-and-drop capabilities tailored to each user’s role.
All part of the GE Digital transformation
All these moves are connected to GE Digital, an initiative launched last September to bring together all the digital capabilities from across GE into one organization. The company said GE Digital would “integrate GE’s Software Center, the expertise of GE’s global IT and commercial software teams, and the industrial security strength of Wurldtech,” GE’s cybersecurity subsidiary.
Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt explained, “As GE transforms itself to become the world’s premier digital industrial company, this will provide GE’s customers with the best industrial solutions and the software needed to solve real-world problems. It will make GE a digital show site and grow our software and analytics enterprise from $6 billion in 2015 to a top 10 software company by 2020,” when GE expects more than $15 billion in software and solutions revenue driven by Predix scale and internal productivity.
GE Chief Digital Officer Bill Ruh added, “Digital technologies and open-source software have transformed the consumer space in radical ways, but industry has been slow to adopt these new innovations. Now is the time to capitalize on the extraordinary opportunity to transform the industrial landscape by leveraging Predix to collectively build apps, which will reveal exponentially greater value than what we have seen in the consumer space.” GE believes the global industrial app economy could grow to more than $225 billion annually.