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GE consolidates its control platforms on open technologies

06 November, 2013

GE Intelligent Platforms has announced plans to consolidate its control platforms, standardising them on open systems such as OPC-UA, to support the Industrial Internet. It says that using open systems across its platforms will provide customers with interoperability, secure communications and an optimal user experience (UX).

The integrated architecture will be based on modular components, an Ethernet backbone and software applications that support industry standards. As its convergence programme continues, GE’s Connected Controls devices will deliver more power at the point of control, while software applications will provide local intelligence that supports the Industrial Internet and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.

“Seamless communications, more efficient configuration and a great human experience are the foundation of the Industrial Internet,” explains Bernie Anger, general manager of GE IP’s Controls & Communications Systems business. “Open standard protocols, high-performance controllers, shared system-level configuration tools and file formats that enable self-assembling nodes, and UX standards for tool and application development, are going to allow customers to get connected faster and easier.”

OPC-UA is the first open standard to be deployed across GE’s control platforms. The company says that it provides a cohesive, secure and reliable cross-platform framework for access to real-time and historical data and events.

GE is rolling out OPC-UA across its Connected Controls platforms – including its PACSystems and Mark VIe controllers, as well as its Proficy Cimplicity HMI/Scada software. In addition, two of the largest open I/O standards – Profinet and Foundation Fieldbus – are being integrated into its controllers.

“A focus on standards keeps us positioned for continuous evolution,” says Anger. “OPC-UA provides flexibility of configuration and device interoperability, and smart and secure communications across solutions.”

GE predicts that bringing all of its control platforms together in a single integrated architecture will provide customers with:

GE IP's PACSystems RXi industrial computing platform is part of its controls portfolio that is migrating to open standards and will support the Industrial Internet

•  Enterprise visibility Information flows from devices to the enterprise as application and device data will be available from bottom to the top of control systems.

•  Interoperability This will be provided via a common architecture and a standard suite of communication protocols as well as deterministic and enterprise buses.

•  “Interdesignability” Translating and converging design tools and model libraries will accelerate productivity and quality.

The platforms will build on GE’s Software Center’s recently announced Predix technology – an industrial software platform that provides a standard, secure way to connect machines, industrial big data and people. Predix combines technologies for distributed computing and analytics, asset management, M2M communications and mobility that can run locally or in the cloud.

“Today’s controls users need experiences that are seamless, context-driven, regional, community-based and, most of all, connected,” Anger concludes. “The consolidated GE controls architecture and use of open system standards will provide all of these benefits in one place so customers can integrate, operate, maintain and manage their operations with world-class automation solutions that leverage great domain expertise and provide accelerated value.”

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