Bringing the Industrial Internet to the Battlefield

Somewhere in Detroit, in the factory of an auto parts company, robots are busily moving products along an assembly line. Sensors are gathering data from every machine in the assembly process and sending the data in real time to computers that automatically process the data using complex analytical software.

The computers send commands back to the assembly machines, making minor calibration adjustments that optimize the production process, increasing productivity while reducing power usage. These adjustments take mere seconds, are constant and save the company millions of dollars per year.

Elsewhere in the plant, the sensors of a water cooling machine have just transmitted diagnostic data to its manufacturer, indicating that a valve in the machine is nearing the end of its life. An order for a new valve has been automatically generated and scheduled to arrive at the auto parts company, along with a technician to help install it. The plant manager, attending his son's soccer game, monitors all of this activity using an app on his smartphone.

Industrial Internet to the BattlefieldThis is how the connected world is changing modern manufacturing. This is what GE refers to as the Industrial Internet.

Elsewhere, in a more hostile part of the world, a small U.S. unmanned aerial sensor (UAS) detects movement on its high-definition, foliage-penetrating camera. Small, but powerful image processing computers on the aircraft optimize the video and compare it to images stored in top-secret military cloud data centers.

The UAS accesses the GPS data of all U.S. forces in the area and, using a secret authentication key, it connects through a network firewall to obtain similar GPS data for allied forces in the area. Within seconds, the UAS has determined that it has a target of interest and begins transmitting encrypted high-definition video to a nearby command station.

Commanders decide to engage prompting computers to broadcast enemy location coordinates and high-definition video over an encrypted virtual network. A small special operations team receives this data on a ruggedized tablet, giving them all the necessary information to engage. The pilot of a fighter jet in the area can also see the video on his display; he is already on his way.

This is how mobile connectivity and cloud computing are changing the way military operations are conducted. This is what the military calls network-enabled operations.

Although worlds apart, these scenarios are very similar. Both involve connected, intelligent machines. Both rely on big data and analytics, and both involve mobile people at work. Whether it is in the consumer market, the industrial world or in a military theater of engagement—and whether it's called "machine-to-machine communications,” the "Industrial Internet" or the "Internet of Things"—the next phase of Internet technology is here. And it is transforming our world.

GE innovation and technology is at the very heart of all of this activity, and I'm excited to be a part of it.

Rubin Dhillon's picture

Rubin Dhillon

Rubin has spent over 20 years in the embedded computing world, in roles ranging from support to sales to product management and even garbage collector. He experienced the huge growth (and crash) of the telecom industry, and he's spent time dabbling in medical, industrial, transportation and military applications. Rubin figured he has so many stories to tell, he should get into marketing and so he is now our VP of Marketing. Connect with Rubin on LinkedIn and he'll explain the "garbage collector" story…

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