Demand growing fast for digital twins and AI in automotive, power generation and aviation, says GE’s CDO

By Zenobia Hegde

Autonomous systems, supported by artificial intelligence (AI) and digital twins, are a game-changer for industrial organisations. Today we are moving away from people telling machines what to do to a world where machines tell people what to do.

In this exclusive interview, Bill Ruh, CEO of GE Digital tells editorial director, Jeremy Cowan that his company saved US$1 billion (€0.85 billion) in 2017 through productivity gains from using its Predix platform and AI-based applications for factories, power plants, aircraft and energy turbines.

IoT Now: In what industries and geographies are autonomous systems, supported by AI and digital twins, in use today?

Bill Ruh: Digital twins are becoming increasingly common in all industries and are used all over the world. From oil & gas (O&G) pipelines in the middle east to wind turbines in the North Sea, they are being implemented across multiple sectors. GE Digital has 1.2 million digital twins in operation today. Initially, GE Digital saw strongest traction in the energy and aviation sectors, but we are today seeing rising interest in manufacturing industries as well as FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) and automotive.

Digital twins today are predominantly used for industrial assets that generate a lot of data and are connected to the Industrial Internet or Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). This is especially true for assets that are on the critical path of the company. Any downtime of the equipment would generate huge profit loss so it’s relevant to leverage the value from data, to predict asset behaviour.

For instance, this technology has increasingly been adopted in engineering and manufacturing to create virtual replicas of complex and data-intensive physical assets such as an airplane engine or IoT-enabled industrial robots. Such intelligent systems are especially prevalent in automotive, the heavy industries, energy and power generation, aviation and many more.

However, while digital twins are intelligent systems, it’s important to understand that they are not always fully autonomous. AI-based applications and digital twins still require a lot of human intervention, particularly in scenarios where virtual replicas of machines are being used to test new features and modifications of physical assets. In industry, AI instead of human (intelligence) is not necessarily more efficient. But human skills boosted by AI analyses and recommendations is more productive.

IoT Now: Which industry sectors do you expect will grow AI the most in the next five years?

BR: Industrial internet will fuel unprecedented gains in productivity and innovation for industrial companies by enabling the wider adoption of AI and digital technology. Our own estimates suggest the Industrial Internet could be a $225 billion (€192.05 billion) market by 2020. Moreover, our data indicates that the adoption of Industrial Internet technologies could add between £200 Billion (€226.04 billion) and £320 Billion (€361.67 billion) to the UK’s GDP by 2030.

Bill Ruh

This is a huge opportunity for organisations, for society and for the economy. In terms of sector-specific growth, our experience shows that the Industrial Internet is having a profound impact on the manufacturing sector as well as the aviation and transportation industries.

Automotive and FMCG are the next big […]

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Posted on: July 11, 2018

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