Field Service Digital caught up with Eddie Amos, corporate vice president of Predix Platform and industrial applications at GE Digital, as the company’s acquisition of ServiceMax nears the two-year mark. Below, Amos discusses how service organizations are already using GE Digital’s asset performance management (APM) and field service management (FSM) applications—and his vision for how the technologies will empower technicians to work smarter and more efficiently.
Can you briefly explain APM is, and how it pertains to field service?
Eddie Amos: Predix APM is a suite of software and service solutions built to optimize the performance of industrial assets by increasing reliability and availability, while optimizing maintenance costs, mitigating operational risks and reducing total cost of ownership. APM pulls together data from a variety of sources, such as sensors and service records, and then uses advanced analytics to turn that data into actionable insights. Predix APM works across all equipment, all OEMs and all industries—across the plant, and across the fleet.
APM is a valuable tool in the larger asset management toolbox. The asset data captured and processed through APM can provide critical information about wear patterns, anomalies, and even run data, all of which can help to inform field service management teams and even broader operational decision making.
How do customers bring this data to bear on their service businesses?
One recent customer decided to work with us specifically because our combined APM and FSM offering opened a variety of doors to performance improvement opportunities they’d never considered. GE has a history of designing, manufacturing, operating, and servicing equipment, which gives us unique perspective into the lifecycle of assets. That perspective and knowledge is infused in—and amplified by—GE Digital’s portfolio of products.
What unique value do APM and FSM applications bring when paired together?
Bringing together our APM offering with the ServiceMax products is a powerful idea. Two key benefits come to mind: First is strategy, and, more specifically, providing insights into the optimal equipment maintenance regime, balancing factors like risk, asset criticality, and cost. As an example, determining whether a break/fix or preventative-maintenance approach is appropriate based on historic failures, cost of downtime, or demand predictions can result in significant savings and productivity gains. Over time, as relevant data is gathered and aggregated from across APM and FSM applications, the operational and maintenance logic can be extended to allow a shift from preventative to predictive maintenance, which drives exponentially greater performance improvements.
This leads us to a second benefit: providing the tools and techniques to detect failures before they happen. This includes deep machine learning and intelligent systems that can effectively “predict” issues and failures, both in individual assets, as well as across a fleet or system.
These kinds of built-in capabilities deliver recommendations to operators and technicians, helping to minimize repair costs for the OEM or field service teams and increase asset output by almost “seeing around corners” with regard to operations and service.
For example, consider a technician dispatched to a wind farm. Typically, the technician would receive the work order with enough detail to conduct the necessary service or repairs. The tech brings tools and parts, and logs work performed in the ServiceMax app. APM provides an entirely new layer of richness to that work order. Historical data about things like bearing or brush life, part information, and even weather data—all of that data can provide additional insights and inform other work that a technician might perform while there. Even better, there may be data available from other units in that same wind farm that, when aggregated, can help to drive performance improvement across the fleet. That puts more power in the hands of the operators and technicians, and more profits in our customers’ coffers.
What is a best practice you would recommend to a company that is already on its digital transformation path, but hasn’t yet finalized all of the pieces?
Small wins are important to keep the momentum going. Transformation is a huge undertaking, but gradually improving your assets or field service team’s performances can be just as powerful. Understanding your stakeholders’ priorities and focusing your efforts on small but meaningful steps is the best way to progress. It’s often much less about the big technology initiatives, and more about the balance of technology and culture that drives success. We’ve learned this by doing it ourselves inside of GE—before going out to customers. Transformation will be different for all businesses, and customers will be at different stages of maturity when they start their digital journeys.
What are you most excited about for the future of APM?
Our portfolio is unlike anything out there. We literally touch every part of the asset lifecycle, and the market has barely been cracked. There are billions of assets and systems that can run so much better with the help of digital. Whether we’re talking about moving manufacturing data to the cloud or laying the groundwork for advances in supply chain and on-demand part production with additive manufacturing, there is a massive amount of opportunity, and we have the right team and the right portfolio to lead.