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GE Takes the Digital Pulse of the Plant

GE Takes the Digital Pulse of the Plant

Most plants are taking the step toward digitizing their production data. The burden of running around the plant with a clipboard is finally disappearing. Now there's one more step to take: gather all of the disparate digitized data from plant operations onto one screen. GE has created a single snapshot of plant operations with its Plant Pulse Optimizer (PPO), which is part of the company's Brilliant Manufacturing Suite module. PPO provides plant operators with the ability to view up-to-date production, inventory, quality, and product delivery data gathered on a single screen.

"The pulse optimizer consolidates the various data points into a single visual element for a concise view of plant operations," Deepti Patil, senior product manager at GE Digital, told Design News. "If you have data that is in disparate sources you can use the optimizer to bring it together on one screen."

Lack of plant-wide visibility can result in lost efficiency. The ability to integrate, access, analyze, and visualize data can improve optimization and information transparency. "Our research shows that in the past, operators and supervisors tended to depend on multiple screens and even whiteboards. They moved around the plant with notepads," said Patil. "The progression goes from not having a digital view to digital in pieces. This brings all of the digital elements together in one view."

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The PPO was designed to provide a panoramic view of production activity for all factory personnel via real-time, multi-shift-based KPIs (machine-material-labor-product intelligence) as scorecards. "The Plant Pulse Optimizer is based on gathering key performance indicators to let plant operators know what's going on in the plant," Patil told us.

PPO is an out-of-the-box HMI that was created to require little configuration. Its consumer-grade visualization technology draws on intuitive technology that requires no training, much like a smartphone. The card-based views aid in execution for various roles within the plant, with associated drill down cards to allow quick identification of bottlenecks at the operation level. "It's all on one screen, so you can see your product flow and you'll be able to see if a bottleneck has occurred," said Patil.

The module provides insights focused on production analytics to help organize manufacturing data into a structure that displays information on inventory, yield, and achievement of production goals. The module is also device and back-end agnostic, which allows it to be connected to both GE and non-GE manufacturing operations systems. "It's been designed to respond to any form factor. It can appear on a TV screen, and it can be placed in numerous places in the plant or on a tablet," said Patil.

The idea behind PPO came from the end-user's frustration with multi HMI's on the plant floor and in the control room. "We developed Plant Pulse Optimizer through a combination of user demand and reading between the lines to see what users need," said Patil. "In the past, they might have gathered around a whiteboard and asked questions."

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 15 years, 12 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

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