TechHub: Digital Industrial Transformations, Cyber Security Strategy & More

Digital Transformations: Linear and Exponential

This week Forbes takes a look at two distinct types of digital disruption.

Two very different pictures are emerging in transformation stories. Forbes defines linear transformation as transformation within the business that improves operations, whereas exponential transformation transforms the business itself— potentially changing the core business model of the organization.

Linear is like an upgrade— helping companies do what they do better with new technology. Exponential shifts the whole business model of the company— finding new ways to give customers value.

They are both important. So, which one are you?

At the end of the article, Forbes concludes that linear isn’t enough because investors don’t reward it.

“The pace of technological innovation is increasing at a speed that necessitates exponential transformation,” according to Forbes.

One piece of advice from Forbes is to handle linear and exponential change separately. Keeping linear along the lines of project management and exponential in its own silo, away from political or turf wars.

The first step in both types of change is to get started.

Gray Matter’s Director of Professional Services John Benitz has led teams through the Brilliant Manufacturing process, and now he can help you.

Gray Matter is offering an exclusive webinar, where we’re demystifying the beginning of the journey for you.

Highlights from the webinar will include:

  • How to create a transformation vision
  • The critical first three data questions
  • Biggest mistakes companies make in the beginning
  • How the GE Transportation Brilliant Manufacturing project started
  • What phase two looks like

Join us for the first part in our webinar series, “Transform Your Operation: Vision before Action,” on April 6 at 2:30pm EST.

Register for the Webinar

Digital Day in Chicago: Start Your Digital Journey

On April 10, join Gray Matter and GE Digital to learn how the Industrial Internet of Things can unlock new possibilities for your company. Learn from companies like Johnson & Johnson about the road to digital, industrial transformation.

Vice President of Product Supply Strategy and Deployment Bart Alfons Talloen develops and deploys new and innovative processes at Johnson and Johnson.

He’ll be talking about systems and technologies to improve production supply during GE Digital Day. You’ll also learn what drives J&J to take action, their vision for Manufacturing of the Future and the challenges that need to be addressed to move forward.

The event will also highlight:

  • Learning the value of the digital industrial transformation
  • Connecting with industry thought leaders and peers
  • Discovering tools to accelerate your transformation journey
Learn More

GE Signs Plans for First Cyber Security Solution and Largest Gas Power Plant in Latin America

GE Power has signed a multiyear agreement for a new combined-cycle power plant in northeastern Brazil, which will meet 15 percent of the energy needs of northeastern Brazil, making it Latin America’s largest gas power plant.

The agreement will include operations, maintenance, repairs, digital solutions and the first order in Latin America for its OpShield cybersecurity solution.

Opshield is a security solution provided by WurldTech, a GE company, for industrial and process control environments. It is designed to help protect critical infrastructure and controls networks, and has the ability to inspect operational technology packets and data flows. This allows for a deep protocol inspection and more control for operators.

Wurldtech provides products, such as OpShield, and services that help customers design, test, certify, and secure their internet-connected devices, ICS and other critical controls, as well as their site operations.  Fortune 500 customers rely on Wurldtech to protect their brand reputation in oil & gas, transportation, utilities, healthcare and many other industries.

digital transformations

How IIoT is Revolutionizing Utilities

This post originally appeared in TechCrunch. 

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is creating huge opportunities in the water and wastewater industries, adding value to both the utility and the consumer. Connected machines are reshaping the way these utilities operate, allowing them to make smarter and more informed decisions.

By driving up innovation, water utilities are driving down cost. Here’s what they’re up to.

Treating water and wastewater requires chemical processes that can now be monitored more accurately using digital data collection.

These digital transformations are taking the guesswork out of chemical processing and allow utilities to optimize the amount of chlorine dollars spent to maintain safe levels — saving time, money and empowering operators to make fewer mistakes.

IIoT and Wastewater Clarification

Another IIoT development, a new SaaS application will calculate wastewater clarifier tank performance — providing quick analysis on a critical step in the wastewater process. The tool, called ClariFind, alerts utilities as they’re getting close to a failure before they experience it.

ClariFind will predict when sludge will overflow and be released. This kind of problem causes EPA issues and fines that can run in the millions of dollars. It will also be able to predict a thickening failure, which is when the effluent doesn’t settle correctly and creates a costly sludge blanket in the tank. ClariFind is just one part of a water operations suite of productivity enhancers — solutions as a service.

Predictive analytics are also solving monitoring problems that were not previously possible for utilities. For example, there are a large number of pumps that are commonly found within water facilities, and digitized data is making it possible for companies to accurately predict when these pumps might fail — ahead of time. It’s similar to the predictive analytic technology used in jet engine checks between airline flights.

This cloud-based application easily connects to pumps and helps companies avoid costly and inconvenient failures, allowing engineers to schedule controlled maintenance rather than reactive maintenance.

Concepts are in the works to apply this type of predictive technology to residential properties as well, in order to help home owners and property managers predict sump pump failures, for instance, before the basement floods. This technology will be a must-have asset for seasonal homes that don’t have inhabitants year-round. Utilities are leading the way in pilot stages for this type of residential technology.

Partnerships between technology companies and utility companies are facilitating innovation.

Safety procedures are also being monitored and enforced more closely by keeping track of them using digitized technology. In Florida, the water division of the Orlando Utilities Commission is using IIoT technology to remind employees of protocol procedures when dangerous chlorine leaks are detected. The safety procedure is sent to a worker’s device to be confirmed before access to the contaminated area is granted.

Both private companies and government agencies are utilizing IIoT technology to increase efficiency and profitability in water. GE has launched an industrial platform called Predix, a cloud-based platform as a service (PaaS) that enables asset performance management on an industrial scale. For water utilities, Predix will help utilities organize time-series data to monitor asset functionality.

The Environmental Protection Agency has technology that will be used to create a new way to digitally improve the monitoring of water age and water quality. This is a very important issue for consumers because when water ages and sits in a pipe for too long, water quality goes down — which was one part of the problem at play in the Flint water crisis. We expect an analogous approach to the way Google Maps handles traffic to represent the water age, enabling municipalities to monitor this more easily.

Running a water utility is becoming more like running a business.

Collaboration in Technology & Utilities

Utilities are no longer solely relying on customers for funding, they’re collaborating and looking at alternative revenue streams to supplement cost. While power utilities have been leading the way on alternative revenue streams, water utilities are now following suit.

The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water) has begun to commercialize their intellectual property, giving them a new revenue channel. For example, they are commercializing their water ammonia versus nitrate algorithm (which is something that keeps the right chemical balance needed for breaking down wastewater) and selling it to other treatment plants.

Partnerships between technology companies and utility companies are facilitating innovation and developing solutions to become cleaner and more efficient at a rapid pace. It truly is a transformative time in the industry, and the results couldn’t be more pure — better drinking water for everyone.

New technologies are giving people hope that they can achieve better standards of living and Gray Matter couldn’t be prouder to lead the way in the water evolution.

Download the white paper to read more on IoT in water, game-changing technology and real Gray Matter customer stories that increase efficiency and profitability in water.

Download the Water Innovations White Paper

TechHub: Leading a Digital, Industrial Era and Cyber Security as a National Priority

GE’s 2016 Report and the industry potential for 2017 and onward

This week GE Digital released its 2016 Annual Report, highlighting details such as an 83-percent increase in GE cash from operating activities, amounting to $30 Billion, as well as an increase by 4-percent in Industrial Segment Revenues, amounting to over $113 Billion.

Other components to the report are a look into building jet engines, a letter to shareholders, testing a giant gas turbine and more.

The report featured a 3D interactive video, explaining additive manufacturing and the new technologies that help design 3D-printed products.

It allows you to explore pictures of the assembly of the largest jet engine designed for commercial use, as well as the most fuel-efficient one produced by GE.

3D-printed fuel nozzles and fan blades, electron beam melting and more are explored through this interactive demonstration of innovative and futuristic manufacturing in the “Factory of Tomorrow.”

Playing by the (cyber) rules

This week a new set of rules went into effect in New York requiring companies to put cyber defenses in place. It’s just the start of what will be a new era of rules and regulations about cyber security for industries. While this week’s rules are just for New York, they will have a big impact on companies outside of the state.

What are the rules?

Companies in the finance industry are now required to have a cyber-security plan in place.  According to Fortune, this includes network penetration testing, cyber audit trails and restricting access to customer data.  Firms will also need a senior security officer whose job is to submit an annual compliance certificate.

“The days of saying,’I have a great IT guy’ are now over,” said an accounting firm executive during the Fortune interview. Cyber security has become a boardroom issue.  

Who are the rules for?

The companies who need to comply are banking, insurance, or brokerage firms that use licenses to operate in New York. Fortune also reports it’s important to note the rules will affect third-party vendors.


The regulations don’t affect operational technology companies at this time, but the same scenario is playing out in the OT space. Cyber is no longer a technology issue, it’s an enterprise issue. We’ll keep you posted as the regulations grow.

Governors declare cyber security a national emergency, state emergency

“Cyber security is critical to each and every governor.”

Those were the words of Terry McAuliffe, Chairman of the National Governors Association, at the four-day-long meeting in Washington D.C. as he urged fellow governors to take cyber threat precautions and increase their states’ defenses.

Noting that his own state faced 86 million cyber attacks in 2016, according to The Hill, the Virginia governor said that cybersecurity is both a national and state issue.

The association has made cyber security a recent priority, holding its first regional summit on cyber security in October and setting up a cyber center to aid states with securing infrastructure.

McAuliffe noted there is still a drastic need of a strategic plan on how to tackle cyber security within states, as well as improving critical infrastructure vulnerabilities.

Learn how to create faster time to OT security and how to multiply your cyber team in the free webinar: Accelerate Time to OT protection on March 16.

Register for the Webinar

New computing system made from blockchain is less vulnerable to cyber attacks

This week, several corporate giants announced joining forces to create a new computing system based on the virtual currency network Ethereum.

Similar to Bitcoin, the technology platform will run on a custom-built blockchain, a very powerful shared global infrastructure that can help developers create markets, store registries of debts, move funds and more.

One notable aspect of the platform is the ability to create a tradeable digital token used as online currency that can either be set to a fixed amount or fluctuate depending on the programming, according to Ethereum, the Swiss nonprofit organization. The virtual currency is known as Ether within the network.

It can run smart contracts. It enables applications to run exactly as programmed without the possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference.

This is good news for cyber security experts.

According to the New York Times, the technology is reported as being harder to hack.

By adapting blockchain technology into their business models, large businesses are able to safely keep track of information such as stock and bond trading transactions.

The creation of the alliance shows the push forward among big companies to integrate technology into business plans and create streamlined databases with less back-office maintenance.

TechHub: Industry Growth, Data Analytics for the C-Suite and More

Manufacturers preparing for Industry 4.0 and tech industry growth

A boom in the tech industry in Southeast Michigan is becoming inevitable — at least that’s what a leading technology and manufacturing association in the state is predicting.

Automation Alley, a nonprofit compiled of industry members seeking to transform Southeast Michigan into a leading technology and innovation region, released an industry report for 2017 surveying approximately 400 senior technology and manufacturing executives on Industry 4.0 and digitization of manufacturing within their companies, according to the Oakland Press, a Michigan news organization.

“We believe that there is a huge opportunity for the technology industry to grow, both in Oakland County and across Southeast Michigan,” said Automation Alley Executive Director Tom Kelly in the Oakland Press.

According to the report, technologies such as the cloud, big data analytics and cyber security are the top three categories invested in. Manufacturers are also planning to invest in autonomous robots in the region.

industry growth automation

Sterling Heights-based Lighthouse Molding was the first company accepted in the Automation Alley 7Cs program. Image: Oakland Press

Perhaps the most insightful findings in the report are the communication gaps highlighted between technology and manufacturing executives in the region, as well as the lack of company resources devoted towards technological advancements.

Ultimately, it’s determined that the local manufacturing industry is actually “ahead of the curve” for the adoption of Industry 4.0 technology, whereas national manufacturers are not.

Interested in joining the digital revolution of Industry 4.0? We can help — read more about our services and let us join you in the journey to becoming a digital operation.

Begin Your Journey

City of Pearland investing $160 million in new surface water treatment plant

As the population curve increases, so does the massive need for water and sewage infrastructure.

The City of Pearland, located in Texas near Houston, has a population of over 100,000 with a predicted population of 220,000 by 2050.

With a drastically increasing population, the city is in the design phases for a new surface water treatment plant, aiming to provide 20 million gallons of additional drinking water daily, according to Community Impact.

Currently the city’s only sources of surface water are the city of Houston and Clear Brook City.

Apart from drinking water, sewage and wastewater treatment is a large concern for the city. Gray Matter is aiding in an expansion of the Reflection Bay Water Reclamation Facility, which is projected to be completed by 2019.

industry growth Pearland

The development boom in Pearland has improved the quality of life, but put a strain on water and wastewater infrastructure. Image: Community Impact

By implementing GE Digital’s iFIX and upgrading the plant’s Historian software, the facility will be better secured, more connected and have data readily available.

iFix is an industrial automation system that can be implemented within HMI or SCADA systems, and uses advanced analytics to model high-flow scenarios within a water and wastewater system, allowing the plant to better prepare for weather-related issues.

Historian allows for storage and display of real-time analytics of big data, storing it in GE’s Predix cloud. This allows for higher productivity, a decrease in plant downtime and an increase in both machine visibility and reliability.

Faster Time to Value for Operational Technology (OT) Security

Our customers are telling us that the cyber headache is only growing in operational technology and when they look at the list of priorities it could take several years just to get their heads above water.

Armed with this knowledge, we developed a speed to operational technology protection cyber plan that you can put in place right now– without having to redesign your whole architecture.

The rapid digital assessment often takes a few hours to a day and micro-segmentation can often be done within a week.

Once you get the fast protection, you can start breathing and prioritize next steps. Faster security allows you to multiply the impact of your team, allowing them to make smarter decisions in less time.

Join two operational technology consultants from Gray Matter Systems, Steve Varmuza and Bill Weed, as they detail how to accelerate time to OT protection in our third installment of the cyber education series.

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Data Analytics in the C-Suite

Global executives who understand the value of advanced data analytics are currently using it to their advantage and implementing it as a core part of their business strategy, according to Forbes.

A new report from Forbes Insights highlights executives embedding analytics into all parts of their enterprise, aside from marketing and sales, to capitalize on the opportunities it creates.

Many large organizations still struggle with achieving the full potential of analytic capabilities, despite an increase in investment.

The survey was based on over 1,500 executives across various industries and geographic locations. The C-level executives’ companies had at least $500 million in annual revenues, with 21-percent having revenues more than $50 billion, according to the report.