The Tipping Point for Industrial Data Sharing in a Connected World
Everywhere I go, there is this underlying concern about whether or not customers will be willing to put their industrial data in the cloud. Sometimes the concern is about data privacy regulations within the country or region. Other times it’s about the proprietary nature of process data as this is the customer’s “secret sauce” in terms of how they make their business successful. It’s actually quite interesting and accentuates the conservative nature of the automation industries as we broadly accept other critical and highly private data in the cloud such as investments, banking, credit cards, email, personal pictures, purchases, and movie preferences.
And so the question is what capabilities will the Industrial Internet need to bring in order to push the automation industries through this tipping point where the value of putting data in the cloud far exceeds the concern related to data security or sharing applications derived from knowledge gained with this data? It would be great to get your views on this as it is not really a question of if, but rather what pushes the automation industries over the edge? Likewise, what industries are likely to transition first?
Clearly, we are starting to see the transition for reliability-centered applications. These applications are focused on predicting future failures of high-value equipment with the goal to prevent these failures from happening.
For example, if there is an early indication a part is failing, downtime can be planned, and a service engineer can be dispatched to replace the part, make any other repairs, and quickly get the equipment returned to operation. The more customers participate by subscribing to the service, providing their data to run the analytics against and providing feedback on whether the advisory identified was real or transient, the more accurate the analytics become. Since the analytics are more accurate, all customers subscribing to the service benefit with each improvement. This positive spiral drives adoption based on the value the ecosystem provides versus what could be attained from a single customer.
How does this apply to operationally focused applications? Can knowledge across the ecosystem improve operational performance at individual plants? Where are the opportunities we should be exploring with customers? In GE’s Proficy MaxxMine application, we focus on both reliability and process optimization of the grinding circuit. This is a key area of the mining operation where throughput is directly tied to production efficiency, and optimizing this circuit generates significant customer value.