Apple and GE have teamed up to improve the software involved in tracking power plants’ effectiveness.

The companies have come up with a tool for app developers to connect Apple’s iOS operating system more easily to Predix, the cloud-based software at the heart of GE’s effort to turn itself into a “digital industrial” company.

The Predix software connects sensor-laden industrial machines like wind turbines to data centres, so that streams of information from the machines can be analyzed to help predict failures and make the machines run more cost effectively.

GE expects the software to help generate $12bn in digital revenue by 2020, although there were delays in the process this year while system issues were being worked out.

Now, with the help of the new software built with Apple, which GE plans to release on 26 October, more information from Predix will be available to the on-the-ground managers of factories and power plants who work most closely with GE’s equipment, said Kevin Ichhpurani, executive vice-president of global ecosystem and channels at GE Digital.

For example, Ichhpurani said, a power plant manager might be debating the best time to take a generator offline for scheduled maintenance. With the Predix software, the manager can see data on the machine and could share notes and photographs from an iPad at the site of the generator and even start a video call.

“These decisions can be made at the power plant or on the factory floor, as opposed to being made at corporate,” Ichhpurani told Reuters in an interview.

As part of arrangements between the two companies, GE plans to make iPhones and iPads the standard mobile devices for its 330,000 employees and will also offer Mac desktop computers as a choice for them.

In return, Apple will help promote GE’s Predix software to Apple’s enterprise customers. Apple’s salespeople will be trained on Predix’s capabilities and will promote the software in sales situations alongside iOS devices, Susan Prescott, vice president of product market at Apple, told Reuters.