PARIS—May 8, 2013—GE’s Power Conversion business (NYSE: GE) announces the launch of a new supervisory system designed for remote monitoring and diagnostics of its drives, machines and control systems operating in the field. The Visor Asset Management system improves GE’s unique integrated marine systems solution, improving productivity and availability through automation, dynamic positioning, drives, electrical motors and generators, prime movers, power distribution equipment, bridge controls, navigation systems and position measuring equipment.
The Visor Insight Management system takes data in many different forms, from multiple sources in many different places on the ship and presents it on a single screen in the form of simple text and graphics. Input signals from vessel alarms, sensors and various subsystems appear on a deck plan of the ship. By touching or mouse clicking on individual elements on the screen, operators can delve through different layers to quickly find the information they need to facilitate their task.
“The system is based on the premise that the least amount of interaction with the operator will provide the most amount of information availability,” says Paul English, marine leader of GE Power Conversion. “This is why Visor Insight uses touchscreen technology, big pictures and a simple and intuitive layout. This is a world-class data management system that is unlike anything else on the market. It has features that are completely unique to GE.”
“Billions of dollars are lost in industry every year due to incorrect management and interpretation of alarms,” English says. “Operator interfaces to alarm systems have changed little in recent years, and too much time is lost trying to understand what an alarm is indicating and what the response should be. All the time the clock is ticking, the situation is likely to be getting worse. What Visor Insight brings is clarity, precision and speed.”
Visor Insight’s user interface is highly versatile and can be adapted to the user’s needs on-site. It also can manage multiple assets at the same time. In a fire situation, for example, it can display a step-by-step procedure for putting out the fire, it can display information from an archive showing the schematics of the vessel, it can show a walk-through video if the firefighter’s vision is impaired by smoke, and it can even indicate how much oxygen is in a firefighter’s tank.
This information is available to the operator in the control room in front of a big screen, as well as to the firefighter walking around the vessel with a robust mobile device. The mobile units can record video and audio signals, which can be fed back into the system in real time. They also allow the user to make quick sketches on the touch screen and make them available to all other users, some of whom can be connected to the system from remote destinations.
What separates Visor Insight from other data management systems is the precision and simplicity of the information it displays. “Every signal that comes in can be turned into an object—picture, a word, a color,” says English. “This is all information, everywhere, all the time.”
Visor Insight is what GE terms an “eyes-on” system. It is not intended as a controller. Even so, it also can be used as a valuable asset management tool. The user can, for example, bring up a picture of the engine room of the vessel and by touching the picture, they can access various levels of the vessel’s automation system all the way through to individual control screens, which they can then operate directly from any location. “It has a direct link into the control function, but it will not do control by itself,” says English.
The productivity tool version of Visor Insight is called the condition monitor. In a control room environment, operators may have as many as 15 screens all showing numbers, graphs and pictures to scan and interpret. Visor Insight is able to present the same data in a simplified form on one screen allowing operators to quickly and easily interpret data. This becomes extremely critical during an emergency when there is no time to scan 15 monitors to interpret the data.
The user can touch a spot on the screen that takes them to any piece of equipment on the vessel, and they also will see a series of green and possibly red bars. If there is more red than there should be, the user can select a subset of relevant information to help them better decide what the problem is. The captain can, for example, choose engine performance, power generation or the dynamic positioning system.
“It gives a snapshot of the situation. The captain can drill through and look at what the source of the deficiency is without having to pick up an intercom,” says English. “It’s an extraordinary tool for improving efficiency.”
Visor Insight also aids in managing systems better. For example, a drill ship runs on multiple programs; for drilling, consumables, replenishment, monitoring and control; on these ships, there may be as many as 20,000 data points being monitored, alarms, conditions of doors and hatches, vibration sensors, temperature sensors, level sensors, pressure sensors and cameras. All these signals need to be monitored, but do not need to be displayed individually for the outcome of what is going on to be successful. By using Visor Insight, all of these programs can be filtered through and displayed on one screen. The first set of data a person needs on the vessel is the big picture to determine how the vessel is performing—and from there, he or she can drill down into details. Visor Insight provides the big picture as well as the ability to drill down into details.
A further important advantage with Visor Insight relates to bandwidth. This is particularly important for users who may want to extend the network across multiple sites connected by satellite.
Whenever new information is added by any user at any station, the whole system is immediately repopulated, but only information that has changed is moved. This is different from traditional data distribution systems that carry out full scans and update the entire database when they detect a change. “This means that we are not wasting what can be extremely expensive bandwidth, we are only sending essential information,” says English.
In the future, a customer with a problem will get an immediate response, from the right GE expert. “Imagine a semisubmersible drilling rig off the coast of Africa,” says English. “An issue arises and the drilling has to stop. Today, we have no idea what the issue is, and the customer can only give us general details. So, we have to decide on the basis of limited information who the right person is to send out, what skill set is required, what parts they need to take with them. Most of the time we get it right, but we can’t guarantee it.
With Visor, we may still have to send someone; it could be that even though we can remotely look at the problem, even though we can remotely give advice, we may still need to install part. But we can send the right engineer with the right equipment and parts or fix to resolve the issue. It’s more efficient, more effective, more responsive. We are not going in blind anymore.”
English concludes: “Our customers are faced with a wide range of responsibilities and challenges. With Visor, we want to help reduce risk by providing the highest level of service within the industry. We have listened to our customers and what their needs are, and Visor is our answer. They want faster service and we are doing our best to give it to them. We get the most out of our engineers, and our engineers get to do what they do best. Everybody wins.”