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'Industrial internet' worth up to $15 trillion, says GE

Worth trillions ... connecting industrial operations to the internet.

Worth trillions ... connecting industrial operations to the internet. Photo: Louie Douvis

Connecting industrial operations to the internet could lead to significant gains in productivity, potentially worth $US10-15 trillion globally, a study by General Electric has found.

The report by the US conglomerate found that enabling internet-connected machines to communicate and operate automatically can lead to big efficiency gains.

"Securing even part of these productivity gains could bring great benefits at both the individual and economy-wide level," said GE chief economist Marco Annunziata, a co-author of the report.

"The full potential of the 'industrial internet' will be felt when the three primary digital elements — intelligent devices, intelligent systems and intelligent automation — fully merge with physical machines, facilities, fleets and networks," said Annunziata. "When this occurs, the benefits of enhanced productivity, lower costs and reduced waste will propagate through the entire industrial economy."

The report, Industrial Internet: Pushing the Boundaries of Minds and Machines, said this process could add $US10-15 trillion to global economic output.

It would also eliminate hundreds of billions of dollars of wasted time and resources by combining internet-connected machines, diagnostics, software, and analytics to make business operations more efficient.

The report said an important impact could be in "advanced manufacturing" techniques. But savings can also be achieved in health care, energy and in transportation — including more fuel efficient airline operations.

The report said the first wave of the internet and communications technologies revolution boosted US labour productivity growth to an average annual rate of 3.1 per cent from 1995 to 2004, twice the pace during the previous quarter-century.


5 comments so far

  • world government, here we come.

    Date and time
    November 27, 2012, 10:13AM
    • Elementary chaos theory tells us that all intelligent devices will eventually turn on their masters in a frenzy of biting and scratching and gnashing of the teeth

      Professor Frink
      Date and time
      November 27, 2012, 12:13PM
      • I'm kind of surprised this is a sudden revelation. We've been doing this for over 10 years, since back in the CDMA days! Merging historical data, real-time data and real-time control back into legacy "wired" SCADA systems.

        Mario G
        Date and time
        November 27, 2012, 12:15PM
        • This is not about control or autonomous devices! What it is about is making all devices network-enabled using the internet as a communications backbone.

          An example for you: connecting washing machines to the internet would allow the machines to communicate with the manufacturer when they break down, possibly allowing technicians to remotely diagnose the cause, or even for the machine itself to notify the manufacturer of a broken part. This could significantly reduce costs associated with service, and minimise the time to fix problems and replace parts (the washing machine could let the owner know where the part was in stock).

          Smart-phone internet connectivity is the tip of the iceberg and will be dwarfed by general device connectivity as almost all devices will eventually be network-enabled for remote communication. Note that all this software will be "embedded" and not with GUIs for human use, i.e. we are not talking about surfing the net on your washing machine.

          Tumbi Umbi
          Date and time
          November 27, 2012, 12:47PM
          • Don't forget to hook up the gas lines and nuclear power plants.

            Just imagine trying to diagnose a problem like your fridge light turning on and off for no reason and then find that some toddler from Russia or China was toggling it for you.

            Knee Jerk
            Date and time
            November 27, 2012, 2:29PM

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