GE tests 100 Gbps Industrial Internet of Things network
A major aspect of the industrial “Internet of Things” is massive machine-to-machine communications supported by a redundant, reliable, high-speed network. General Electric, which has interests in numerous industrial verticals, uses a network test bed deployed in New York capable of 100 gigabit-per-second data transmission to gain a better understanding of the full potential of the industrial “Internet of Things.”
The goal is for GE to take the lessons learned in the test bed and use the insight to gain efficiencies at its 400 manufacturing facilities. Colin Parris, VP of GE Software Research, said real-time communications promise to fundamentally change the way factories are run.
“A software research focus for GE has been to advance the real-time connections between large scale systems and to develop sophisticated control systems that increase the performance and efficiency of our products,” Parris said. “These high-speed networking lines enable accelerated data movement and an increase in data volumes within industrial Internet products and services. This ability will greatly accelerate needed advancements in these areas, and in collaboration with the Industrial Internet Consortium, help advance industry standards.”
GE is a member of the Industrial Internet Consortium as is networking equipment giant Cisco, which participated in the test bed project.
Tony Shakib, VP of Cisco’s Internet and Everything Vertical Solutions Group, said the partners are “working on innovation test beds, reference architectures and standards infrastructure for industrial Internet applications. GE’s new fiber link and continued test beds are crucial to advancing our efforts around the ‘Internet of Things’ and to our ability to rapidly generate valuable customer insights through our industry solutions.”
Cybersecurity analytics firm Bayshore, using the test bed in cooperation with GE, demonstrated an application for power management. According to the company, the trial “provides an outstanding example of big data analytics through the high-speed infrastructure, which supports speeds up to 100 Gbps. The Bayshore IT/OT Gateway filters, secures and transforms power generator application content into standard IT analytics formats for integration with a third-party analytics platform. The analytics platform ingests the data, performs the analytics and delivers insights into performance.”
The Industrial Internet Consortium pegged the test bed’s end goal as enabling industries to “instantaneously connect and control machines located thousands of miles away.” Coupled with machine learning software, this level of network throughput is what would be needed to support autonomous industrial equipment, for instance. Imagine the heavy equipment used to excavate in the mining industry. Highly-skilled, expensive workforce is needed to use this equipment efficiently and safely, a major concern given the inherent risks of putting people into that scenario.
But, what if none of that was necessary? A network capable of supporting real-time communication, coupled with a variant of a autonomous driving platform, could remove not only the error associated with a human workforce, but also the safety risks. Similarly, real-time communications, coupled with advanced robotics, could give a skilled individual the ability to remotely control mining equipment from the comfort and safety of a centralized office.
That’s the vision of the industrial “Internet of Things.” And while GE’s test bed is just that, the telecommunications industry is working in earnest on the standardization and technology needed to commercialize “5G” technology and bring multi-gigabit-per-second speeds to market.