GE Digital's Predix Now Supports Low-Latency, Offline IoT Deployments


GE Digital has announced new edge and private cloud capabilities for its Predix industrial Internet of Things platform that gives companies the ability to securely gather and analyze machine data in offline or low-connectivity environments.

The San Ramon, Calif.-based company's announcements of the new Predix Edge capabilities and Predix Private Cloud launch come after its parent company, General Electric, held its first earnings report this week under new CEO Larry Culp, who replaced John Flannery at the beginning of the month. Following Culp's appointment, GE Digital indefinitely postponed its eighth annual Minds and Machines conference, which was set for Tuesday and Wednesday.

GE Digital said Predix Edge can help industrial companies move past "pilot purgatory" with a simple-to-deploy solution that captures, processes and analyzes data at the edge to provide near real-time insights and can be managed both locally and remotely. The product supports data storage and analysis for online and offline environments, as well as when there is only intermittent or limited connectivity. It also comes with edge-to-cloud security and compliance features, as well as application development support for many programming languages.

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Tony Antoun, senior vice president of edge engineering at GE Digital, told CRN that the company is "building specific tools to enable control engineers as well as field service engineers to manage these devices completely offline."

"It is totally expected, for example, in the transportation business that a locomotive is not always connected," he added. "In highly regulated environments some of those machines are segregated from the network by design."

Antoun said Predix Edge has already deployed GE Additive, GE's industrial 3-D printing arm, to monitor individual print layers in real-time using a high-resolution camera and provide alerts when a layer doesn't match the object's 3-D software model. Predix Edge also takes in sensor data from the printer for predictive maintenance. With these capabilities, Antoun said companies can avoid costly mistakes in the printing process that could otherwise be missed.

Beyond capturing and analyzing data at the edge, Predix Edge can also send data to a public or private cloud for more analysis with GE Digital's Asset Performance Management and Operations Performance Management applications.

In addition to Predix Edge, GE Digital announced on Thursday that it is launching Predix Private Cloud, an on-premises version of the company's Predix platform that "offers companies maximum levels of security and privacy."

Barry Lynch, vice president of sales and marketing at Factora, a Trois-Rivières, Quebec-based GE Digital partner and one of CRN's 2018 IoT Innovators, told CRN that GE Digital's new edge and private cloud offerings are promising because manufacturers in some cases cannot rely on public cloud deployments alone due to reliability, security and redundancy issues.

"Having that flexibility of different technologies being grounded to a common secure robust industrial edge node is really critical to the adoption of cloud technology in core manufacturing," said Lynch, who previously worked at GE Digital.

One hundred percent uptime is a top priority for manufacturers, Lynch said, which is why some don't want to risk relying on the public cloud that can have a real-time impact on production in case there is ever an outage. Manufacturers are also cautious about hosting propriety data in the public cloud due to security concerns.

"So being able to have a private cloud removes the barrier of it. They know they have ultimate control over their data," Lynch said.