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:

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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 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.


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.


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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.


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


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:


ICYMI: Automation News Roundup, Week Ending March 27

Forget Smart Fridges – IIoT is What to Watch

TechRadar called out “everyday smart devices” like smart watches and smart kettles and told them to watch their back. There’s a force to be reckoned with in the “smart” world and it’s called the Industrial Internet of Things, or IIoT for short.

Photo courtesy of Neptune Pine2, Creative Commmons

Photo courtesy of Neptune Pine2, Creative Commmons

While some individuals may know it as Industry 4.0, GE is still credited with giving the concept of the IIoT its own identity.

Jamie Carter of TechRadar described the IIoT being responsible for “adding big data to create automated buildings, lighting, security, energy production, transportation, and industrial automation on a massive scale.”

Carter also pointed out that the IIoT is imperative in solving mission-critical problems– which, in turn, is shaping modern economics.

Using the example of streetlamps, Carter posits that with the help of the IIoT, a radio could be placed inside a light and then send alerts to signal that the light-bulb has burnt out and requires a fresh one.

And this is just an small-scale example of what the IIoT can revolutionize.

How to Avoid Becoming Extinct as Tech Changes

Photo courtesy of Kate Ter Haar, Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Kate Ter Haar, Creative Commons

Howard Tullman uses the image of a modern Best Buy store to illustrate how technology is quickly on its way in and, on the other side, on its way out in the article published in the Chicago Tribune. 

Here’s what Tullman suggests to avoid becoming extinct:

  • Utilize multiple offline and online channels- it’s “all about the mix of offerings”
  • Be continually innovating- add new functionality wherever possible
  • Accept the modern trend of mobile computing & virtual consuming of entertainment- use it for your advantage
  • Monitor changes from analog to digital- most importantly, pay close attention to how it affects consumers

Driving a 3D-Printed Car through Manufacturing: A Q&A

Illustration courtesy of opensource, creative commons

Illustration courtesy of opensource, creative commons

Thanks to the Idea Laboratory by GE, we were treated with a detailed Q&A with CEO of Local Motors, Jay Rogers, about the process of creating the first 3D-printed car.

Rogers answers questions on 3D printing, sustainable transportation and the future of auto manufacturing in general.

“Idea Lab: You developed the first fully functional 3D-printed car. How will 3D printing technology and the way it’s used evolve? Are we moving closer to the democratization of manufacturing?

Rogers: At Local Motors, we view 3D printing (additive manufacturing) as just one of the many tools available in a suite of tools used to make things. Depending on the function and design, it may make more sense to form, cut, weld, fasten or coat material. It is important to note that 3D printing is not a “one tool fits all” solution — like anything, there are inherent benefits and drawbacks to the technique.

Perhaps the greatest advantage that 3D printing has over other manufacturing methods is that it gives the user control of where materials are placed. Smart designers are able to create complex pieces optimized for strength and weight. The net result is designs that are lighter, require vastly reduced assembly time and are digital, meaning they can be modified with a few strokes of a keyboard. Imagine each successive build of an object improving over the last with features that are uniquely tailored to the requirements of the end user. 3D printing has enabled us to make this vision a reality.”

Read the rest of the conversation at GE’s Idea Lab.

Let us Air our Grievances: Technology Edition

Photo courtesy of Omer, Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Omer, Creative Commons

Technology is a wonderful thing- it’s a fact that’s indisputably proven every  day.

However, just like a college roommate or a co-worker that you see day after day, an overuse of some parts of technology can easily cause an emotional response.

I’ll admit it- forgetting a password can be one of the most aggravating mishaps you encounter in a workday.

Well, a few hundred of Wall Street Journal’s readers also felt strongly about particular nuisances in technology, and shared them for the “Tech Fails” article:

Waiting for Windows. Whether it is an update or reboot or whatever, Windows [7] makes you wait. My time has value but Microsoft doesn’t seem to understand that.

—Phil Duclos, Longmont, Colo.

Apps you can’t delete. You can only bury them deep in a folder. We know how to download apps already. Why does Apple need to put a Watch icon on every device [via iOS 8.2 update] months before launch?

—Ryan Plumley, Dayton, Ohio

Voice mails. Don’t leave them. Don’t make me stop what I’m doing to listen to a message that I could have read in an SMS or email.

—Greg Schrage, Lenexa, Kan.

 Meet Sawyer: Rethink Robotics’s New Robot

Sawyer is described to be primarily used for machine-tending, circuit-board testing and other detailed tasks according to the IEEE Spectrum. 

Specs provided by IEEE Spectrum:

  • Weight: 19 kg (42 lbs)
  • Payload: 4 kg (8.8 lb)
  • Reach: 7 degrees of freedom and 1-meter reach
  • Actuation: Series elastic actuator and Harmonic Drive, with optical encoder
  • Repeatability: N/A
  • Force sensing: High-resolution force sensing embedded at each joint
  • Vision: Camera in the head for wide field of view and Cognex camera with built-in light source in the wrist for precision vision applications
  • Software: Intera, with software updates every 4 months
  • Body: Sealed against dust and spray [Baxter isn’t]
  • Expected lifetime: 30,000 hours
  • Price: US $29,000 (available in North America, Europe, China, and Japan)

Watch the video:

Media We Link to:

“Forget Smart Fridges- The Industrial Internet of Things is the Real Revolution” – TechRadar 

 “How to Avoid Being Extinct” – Tullman, Chicago Tribune

“Driving a 3D-Printed Car Through Manufacturing” – GE Idea Laboratory 

 “Tech Fails: What Annoys You about Technology” – WSJ

 “Meet Sawyer: Rethink Robotics Unveils New Robot” – IEEE Spectrum

Featured image – by  Sebastiaan ter Burg 

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