How to create applications that will revolutionize the work of factories

How to create applications that will revolutionize the work of factories

Together with General Electric, we create many technological solutions that are designed to maximize the production processes of components used in aviation. Thanks to such procedures, we can significantly reduce costs and, as a result, also increase the profitability of GE’s factories. Our foreign partner is currently developing the Operations advisors (oa) package to meet these goals. At Engineering Design Center we are working on one of the 5 modules of this package – Components Operations Advisor.

Before we go into the details of the module we are developing, let’s see what the entire application package is intended for.

Operations Advisor (OA)package

The OA package is GE Aviation’s strategic product . It is aimed at streamlining the process of manufacturing aircraft parts – from the delivery of materials to the descent of the finished product from the assembly line. It consists of 5 applications that are developed completely independently of each other. These are:

  • Fullfilment Operations Advisor
  • Overhaul Operation Advisor
  • Components Operation Advisor
  • Repair Operation Advisor
  • Assembly Operation Advisor

The idea of this package is to cover the entire life cycle of products manufactured in GE Aviation factories. Starting with the procurement of semi-finished products from suppliers, ending with the delivery of ready-to-install assemblies in new or refurbished engines.

These applications are created by independent teams of developers who work in different parts of the world. Each team has complete freedom to choose the technology and toolset they will use, and contact between them is limited to ‘knowledge sharing’.

All parts of the OA package are based on the Predix 2.0 platform., thanks to which developers can focus only on implementing business logic, since all dev ops procedures, application load management, data warehouses (Postgres) and application security (oauth2) are provided by Predix “out of the box”.

Applications use the same authorization and authentication system. In the future, this will allow them to be combined in such a way that the end user can use the entire package with a single user interface (UI), as if it were a single application.

Components Operations Advisor (COA)module

At EDC, we’re working on the CoA module. Its task is to provide precise information to operators and managers in factories about what is happening on the production lines. It all starts with collecting sensor data. The application analysis module calculates and provides this information, and the user interface presents it in an accessible, graphical form. In this way, CoA users receive clear information about the progress of work on a given shift, broken down by production cell. This allows factory workers to know whether the work is progressing at the expected pace-whether the number of products produced at a given time is in line with the plan. The module also indicates whether the coverage of the different production steps is too large or too small and indicates where bottlenecks are present on the production line that slow down production. With this data, operators can easily see areas for improvement and focus on streamlining the process.

The application consists of several elements:

  • The user interface (UI) has been prepared using the polymer framework. It uses partly components created for the Predix platform, and partly from unique fragments written specifically for this application by the development team.
  • The UI communicates via REST endpoints with the analysis module – the Spring Boot application, which is the heart of the whole system.
  • The data warehouse is a PostgreSQL database, in the form of a Predix service. It is powered by the Data loader module (also spring boot), which is the interface (with the help of a rest contract) of the entire COA with the outside world.
  • In addition, everything is secured with the help of OAuth2, which also uses a Predix service that implements authorization and authentication.

This architecture of the entire module allows you to deploy it in any factory. The only condition is that it has a production line service system that provides data that fulfills the data loader contract. All personalization (i.e. factory name, number of production cells, division of shifts working in factories, etc.) does not require the intervention of developers and is possible to enter from the application administrator.

In theory, a single CoA application can support an unlimited number of factories. This is possible thanks to flexible load management using the Predix 2.0 cloud. Subsequent instances of application modules can be run as required in just a few minutes.

Working on the COA module

At EDC, work on the project began earlier this year with the first line of code. Application load tests are currently underway. If it ends positively (and the prognosis is good), then in the next few weeks the application will be installed for the first time in one of the GE Aviation factories. The next step is to visit this factory to see how the application performs in production. The development team will collect feedback from users and apply changes if necessary. If the feedback is positive, the project will be closed.

If the installed application works correctly, its application should increase the productivity of the factory. It will therefore remain to be seen how its application will translate into the optimization of the costs of the production process and, consequently, the increase in the income of a particular factory.

Przemysław Zych
Senior Software Engineer
Engineering Design Center

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