TechHub: Automation Creates More & Better Jobs, Seegrid’s New Self-Driving Pallet Truck and More

JOHN TLUMACKI/GLOBE STAFF

Automation Creates More, Better-paying Jobs

Robots, artificial intelligence and other forms of automation are often feared due to their job-destroying potential when in fact they’re creating more, better-paying jobs.

The brick-and-mortar retail swoon has been accompanied by a less headline-grabbing e-commerce boom that has created more jobs in the U.S. than traditional stores have cut. Those jobs, in turn, pay better, because its workers are so much more productive, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Throughout history, automation commonly creates more, and better-paying, jobs than it destroys. The reason: Companies don’t use automation simply to produce the same thing more cheaply. Instead, they find ways to offer entirely new, improved products. As customers flock to these new offerings, companies have to hire more people.

In the Amazon facility’s packing area, computers tell workers precisely which size box to use. PHOTO: ADAM GLANZMAN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

James Bessen, an economist at Boston University School of Law, has found in numerous episodes when technology was supposed to annihilate jobs, the opposite occurred.

After the first automated tellers were installed in the 1970s, an executive at Wells, Fargo & Co. predicted ATMs would lead to fewer branches with even fewer staff. And indeed, the average branch used one-third fewer workers in 2004 than in 1988. But, Mr. Bessen found, ATMs made it much cheaper to operate a branch so banks opened more: Total branches rose 43% over that time.

There are still plenty of logistics that only humans can handle. When the new 1.2-million square foot Amazon warehouse opened in Fall River, Massachusetts, Amazon workers had trouble stowing long, narrow things like shovels and rolled-up rugs, which don’t stack very well. Their solution? Large cardboard tubes, typically used to form concrete pillars, were fashioned into rows and rows of improvised barrels, according to the Boston Globe.

“One thing we learned is to find the cheapest and easiest solution possible,” said Andrew Sweatman, the Fall River general manager.

City leaders rolled out the red carpet for Amazon with generous tax incentives and a prime location on Innovation Way. Its arrival was the single biggest job creation event anyone could remember.

“We had people with a skill set that was nontransferable,” says Jasiel F. Correia II, Fall River’s 25-year-old mayor and a first-generation child of immigrants from the former Portuguese territory of Cape Verde. “Where does a person who sewed textiles for 20 years go if they’re laid off? Places such as Amazon fill that gap,” he says. “They got a chance to work for a Fortune 500 company. This community doesn’t get those chances very often.”

Seegrid Rolls Out New Self-Driving Pallet Truck

Seegrid has rolled out a self-driving pallet truck the Pittsburgh-based robotics company said doesn’t need human intervention.

As the leader in connected self-driving vehicles for materials handling, they’ve recently expanded the company’s suite of automated solutions with the announcement of the GP8 Series 6 self-driving pallet truck.

SOURCE: Seegrid

Further enhancing the Seegrid Smart Platform, which combines flexible and reliable infrastructure-free vision guided vehicles with fleet management and enterprise intelligence data, the self-driving truck has fully automated material movement to execute hands-free load exchange from pick-up to drop-off, according to Seegrid.

In the automotive industry, self-driving vehicles are used for consistent delivery of parts to line. The self-driving pallet truck picks up and drops off palletized car parts without human interaction, increasing productivity amidst labor shortages for automakers. In e-commerce, it enables fully autonomous delivery of goods to keep up with fulfillment industry growth and demand.

Operating without wires, lasers, magnets, or tape, it allows manufacturers and distributors to change routes in-house, operate in manual mode, and effortless scale their fleet as they grow.

As part of the Seegrid Smart Platform, the Series 6 is aligned with Industry 4.0 and lean initiatives, helping companies transform into smart factories of the future.

Developing a Work Culture that Embraces its CMMS and Values Data Accuracy

First, establish new behaviors by creating a set of CMMS guiding principles.

Creating a culture that embraces CMMS and values data integrity begins with leaders changing their behavior. If they expect their organization to change, O&M leaders, including materials, procurement, and engineering functions, should jointly develop a set of CMMS guiding principles.

The development process creates ownership and alignment within the cross-functional group around new leadership behaviors. After completion and approval, leaders should post the CMMS principles, which will allow them to hold each other, as well as the organization, accountable. It will also enable the organization to begin adjusting to the new behaviors they observe. When leaders consistently behave differently, the organization will adapt and follow, according to Industry Week.

Guiding Principles

  • No work order, no work
  • 400-percent rule
    • 100% internal labor, 100% of materials, 100% of contractor cost documented on work order, 100% of the time
  • Completed field work documented
  • All equipment failures receive a Root Cause Analysis (RCA)
  • All spare parts have a stores item number
  • All lowest maintainable equipment is identified by unique number, title, hierarchy and criticality rank
  • Measure the process as well as end results
  • Weekly work order audits
  • Periodic communication
  • Periodically audit the CMMS

Developing a culture that embraces utilization of a CMMS and values data integrity starts with leadership vision and behavior.

Read More.

TechHub: Cyber in oil and gas, over 1,000 tech jobs created & more

ISA Director to oil & gas: “The time to act is now.”

Patrick Gouhin, Executive Director and CEO of the International Society of Automation (ISA) spoke at a Bloomberg Live conference in Texas on the future of cyber security in the oil and gas sector.

Patrick Gouhin cyber tech hub

Patrick Gouhin, ISA Executive Director and CEO. Image: LinkedIn

ISA is a nonprofit professional association that sets the standard for applying engineering and technology to improve management, safety and cyber security of automation and control systems.

Check out GrayMatter’s cyber services for operational technology.

The focus of his presence, according to Automation, an online industrial news website, was to urge industry executives to protect their facilities from cyber attacks.

He noted the increasing number of cyber attacks on industrial facilities, which are crucial to the economy and national security, and that there are effective standards available today.

“The time to act is now — not years in the future,” said Gouhin.

Supervisory control and data acquisition systems (SCADA) are used to monitor and control industrial networks, and are not designed to be resilient against cyber attacks.

The result? An attack can disable safe operations of these facilities, resulting in sometimes fatal consequences. Plant shutdowns, widespread blackouts, explosions, chemical leaks and more can result, according to Automation.

How much do you know, or not know, about your operational system? Take the industrial cyber security challenge to find out your knowledge level based on your score:

Take the Challenge

New deal to add over 1,000 autonomous tech jobs within five years

General Motors announced plans to invest in autonomous vehicle technology startup Cruise Automation, with plans to double their current research and development facility and add 1,100 jobs over five years.

Currently Cruise is listed on Glassdoor.com as having under 200 employees, the deal increasing the company by 550 percent.

“As autonomous car technology matures, our company’s talent needs will continue to increase,” said Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise Automation.

cyber

GM CEO Mary Barra with autonomous Chevy Bolt in 2016. Image: General Motors

Cruise and GM engineers are testing more than 50 Chevrolet Bolt EVs, which are built at the GM plant in Metro Detroit, Mich., with self-driving technology in San Francisco, Scottsdale and Metro Detroit, according to Industry Week.

Let’s talk ROI: Business and the Industrial Internet of Things

The momentum of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is undeniable. The benefits are among real-time connectivity and sensors, allowing for access to the data you want when you want it.

Yet many executives are still hesitant when implementing IIoT technology. The cautious attitude is due to the complexity of data architectures and massive enterprise-wide investments that require extensive engineering with long-term commitment, according to Industry Week.

This leaves them lost on measuring the value they’re receiving from their investment, and second-guessing whether they’re investing in the right approach for their company.

The answer? Finding a company that will work with customers to help find finite and scaled options to lower the risk of adopting to the new technology, yet still reap the benefits of the IIoT.

By integrating to IIoT platforms, it empowers plant operators to leverage their data and technologies to improve reliability, safety, energy management and overall operation performance for a price and level that works on an individual as-need basis.

cyber

Learn more about starting your journey to becoming a digital, industrial operation and download our free ebook:

Get the eBook

 

How 3D Printing is Transforming Industry

Remember that scene in “Back to the Future Part II” where the future McFly family prepares dinner by “hydrating” a tiny, dense circle into an entire pizza? In mere minutes, they’re all happily devouring food from the future.

BTTF

The hydrated pizza from “Back to the Future Part II”

This appliance might have seemed impossible back in 1989 when the film premiered, but thanks to today’s 3D printing technology, it’s becoming more of a reality.

In fact, a recent Automation World article detailed the future of 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, in the food industry. And yes, “printing” pizza is a possibility.

Enter Foodini, by Natural Machines— a 3D food printer that makes pizza, pasta, breads, and cookies. Does making ravioli from scratch sound daunting? The creators of Natural Machines suggest to simply load the dough and filling and let Foodini print the pasta for you.

“Foodini is the first 3D printer to print all types of real, fresh, nutritious foods, from savory to sweet,” according to the Natural Machines website. “It uses fresh, real ingredients, making the Foodini the first 3D food printer kitchen appliance to contribute to a healthy eating lifestyle.”

While Foodini isn’t available for purchase quite yet, co-founder Lynette Kucsma, envisions a time where every household will own their own 3D food printer, according to Automation World.

Industry experts even say that 3D printing will help food manufacturers, not harm. Laurence Gibbons of Food Manufacture said it will be a huge part of the food and beverage industry — reducing costs and production time. In fact, Gibbons suggests it could even be as valuable to food manufacturers as the Internet.

But 3D printing isn’t limited to the food industry– it’s anything but.

New Balance, the athletic wear brand, announced yesterday their newest running shoe model– one that incorporates a 3D-printed midsole.

Instead of the traditional foam at the bottom of a sneaker, this model will have a lighter, 3D-printed midsole. According to Fast Company, brands like Nike, Adidas, and New Balance have experimented with 3D printing for a few years now. Apparently, shoe companies are now competing to make a lighter shoe, one that can be produced quickly and they’re doing so with the help of 3D printing.

Photo courtesy Creative Tools

Photo courtesy Creative Tools

So if food, running sneakers, and even automobile parts are impacted, where else is 3D printing applicable?

According to Jesse Snyder of Alberta Oil Magazine, the oil and gas industry may be next. Snyder said Apollo-Clad’s laser cladding is a lot like 3D printing oilfield pipes and tools.

“Suspended in the air over the tube is the spray nozzle of a laser-cladding machine, which has been placing successive layers of tungsten carbide to build up three “stabilizer blades” in the center portion of the tool,” said Snyder.

Doug Hamre, the head of research and development at Apollo-Clad, a company that manufactures and repairs downhole tools and mining equipment, said it’s “exactly like 3D printing, but on a larger, industrial scale.”

David Greenfield of Automation World even said back in 2014 that “the ability to print using many different types of materials, and decreasing costs” could make 3D printing a game changer for the global automation market.

At the 2014 IHS Industrial Automation conference, senior principal analyst Alex Chausovksy said that industrial machinery production is an area to be most dramatically impacted by 3D printing technology.

“The increased ability for innovation in design means that companies armed with 3D printing technology can ‘work from function rather than fit,’ allowing changes to be made far more quickly than ever before,” said Greenfield.

According to Chausovksy, we are on the cusp of a new way to produce. However, he warns that another change it could bring to the manufacturing industry is “a restructuring of intellectual property rights.”

“Manufacturers will have to think about IP (intellectual property) in a different way. They may need to move from selling physical parts to selling CAD files for customers to print,” said Chausovksy in the Automation World article.

If this explosion of additive manufacturing or 3D printing can teach us anything, it’s that technology continues to transform industries of all sizes and compositions.

A Window Into Some of the Most Important Work Being Done Today

As the director of water/wastewater solutions for Gray Matter Systems, I spend a ton of time on the road.

You know that Johnny Cash track, “I’ve Been Everywhere Man”? That’s my theme song, accompanying me on my travels throughout Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and more.

And what keeps me going, aside from a great cup of coffee and good tunes on the radio, is the constant reminder that I’m doing some of the most important work you can imagine.

The road ahead leads me to the next opportunity to help keep our nation’s utilities safe from cyber attack, their systems moving and online, and the water flowing to customers’ homes clean and clear.

Every year, we highlight a portion of this great work in the form of
presentations at PIB 2015 — Gray Matter’s annual automation event in Put-in-Bay, OH. This year’s event is held August 4-6 – it’s coming up soon. Learn more here.

PIB 2015 is a solution-focused, three-day event for professionals interested in solving today’s biggest data-driven challenges.

PIB2015Logo-200 2

The event, held annually in Put-in-Bay, is designed to inspire conversation, spotlight challenges, offer solutions, and showcase innovative technologies.

Our annual event includes success stories and presentations from a wide array of industries including water/wastewater, manufacturing, food and beverage, and many more.

This year – like nearly every year – the Ohio Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has approved each of the sessions in the water/wastewater track for continuing education credits for water operators in Ohio.

Just think about that. The Ohio EPA thought enough of the presentations our customers in place like the City of Cincinnati, North Ridgeville, OH, or Orlando, FL, are doing that it allows us to offer credit toward operators’ licenses.

That’s something I’m proud of, without a doubt. So what are some of the highlights from this year’s automation meeting?

Flexible Design Concepts for Water/Wastewater Automation Systems at the French Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant

SMALLNORTHRIDGEI’ll be helping out on this presentation about how North Ridgeville addressed the concept of employing a flexible design approach to automation, monitoring, and data acquisition systems in the French Creek WWTP in Sheffield Village, OH.

Corey Timko, superintendent at French Creek WWTP, will present how, through the application of flexible design concepts, this utility will be able to accommodate changes in computing and control standards as they arise, essentially future-proofing the system and enabling scalable solutions that will endure.

It’s an example of how Gray Matter is helping utilities realize the benefits of technology.

Maximizing the Conveyance and Treatment Capacity of Wastewater Collection Systems and Reducing Wet Weather Overflows at the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati

imgres

By now, nearly everyone knows The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, Ohio (MSDGC) is under two federal consent decrees to reduce wet weather overflows.

As one of the top five Combined Sewer Overflow communities in the U.S. in terms of overflow volume, MSDGC, with the help of Gray Matter Systems, has introduced innovative approaches to reduce the massive cost of these improvements.

This session, hosted by MSDGC’s Melissa Gatterdamn, will show one of the district’s key strategies — to incorporate sophisticated operational controls during wet weather that maximize the conveyance and treatment capacity of its existing wastewater system. Operators will learn how MSDGS partnered with Gray Matter and GE Intelligent Platforms to provide the technology platform for a comprehensive watershed-based Wet Weather SCADA System.

The really cool thing we’ll be showing off is how this system has improved MSDGC’s decision-making capabilities, which has resulted in efficient reduction of overflow, and is being developed to incorporate automated coordinated control of wet weather assets.

Automating Work Order Management at Orlando Utilities CommissionOUC

This is a really cool presentation. We have a couple of our best friends and most veteran water professionals, Lee Marshall and Jerry Farina, coming all the way from Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC). Marshall and Farina have more than 50 years of combined experience in water treatment. They’ll present how OUC is using technology to automate standard operating procedures and avoid dangerous situations from things like chlorine leaks.

It’s worth repeating — chlorine leaks are a pretty serious, pretty dangerous thing for utilities. It’s far, far worse than getting a whiff of the chemical at your local pool – a chlorine leak at your local water plant can incapacitate a person in a matter of seconds.

That’s not to mention the tons of necessary paperwork required for regulatory compliance that comes from this kind of event.

Marshall and Farina will show how OUC used technology to automate response and ensure accuracy in reporting. It’s a fascinating session.

Cloaking and Securing Your Critical Infrastructure and Devices

Malicious cyber attacks that devastate critical infrastructure are the thing of blockbuster movies. Most recently – and realistically — high-profile cyber attacks have been leveled on Target, Home Depot, or even the Federal government.

But the threat of attack is a very real thing for the country’s public utilities.

For over 10 years, Rob Goss has been addressing the security challenges facing critical infrastructure environments across a variety of segments.

At PIB 2015, he’ll highlight examples of common network architectures that have high-risk exposure and offer solutions to these occurrences. These examples are often driven by needs common to public utilities like remote connectivity; employee, vendor, and contractor access; and integration with untrusted networks such as cellular, ISP, and shared infrastructure.

This timely presentation is meant to arm water/wastewater operators with cyber-security strategies by referencing various standards, architecture documents, and best-practice recommendations that, together, align to provide a powerful model for advanced network security for industrial environments.

Ohio operators can get up to seven credits for the water/wastewater track at PIB 2015. (Michigan credits are pending).

These are just a couple of the sessions we’re covering at PIB 2015. There are 28 total, covering all kinds of topics from process control to big data and analytics to the changing face of the factory.

Join us for the show. Check out more here:

PIB

Contact GrayMatter

Get in touch with us!