TechHub: Industrial Market Growth, Advancement in Smart Cities & Homeland Security Urges Cyber

The Industrial Market Opportunity

Manufacturing and industrial companies are the backbone of the U.S. economy. With the advancement of the digital age, more factories and utilities are looking to cut costs, decrease downtime and streamline operations.

This industry’s operations are extremely different from IT enterprises and rely on partner companies that specialize in operational technology in order to connect and protect their assts.

GrayMatter was highlighted in CRN, a news analysis online publication for technology companies.

“We help customers in these markets connect their factories, connect their big expensive assets,” said James Gillespie, CEO of GrayMatter, in CRN. “Those are things we’ve been working on, to digitize the information, and to help customers get better results.”

Jim Gillespie, CEO of GrayMatter

The article explores various aspects from the operational issues companies face, to a continuously growing partnership with GE and the possibilities the Industrial Internet has for companies.

Part of that partnership is collaborative engineering on cutting-edge ideas like Brilliant Manufacturing by GE Digital, a suite of software enabling predictive analytics on a scalable intelligent system powered by the cloud-based operating system Predix.

“It’s enabling digital transformations at a scale that would have been harder to do in the past,” said Gillespie. “Predix is like the iOS of the operating systems and now there’s people coming together to write apps — there’s a whole group of people emerging in a community of developers and solution providers.”

Cloud technology is now in an advanced place where it’s becoming universally affordable, dependable and reachable. The community around the operating system is pushing the industry forward, and everybody needs to jump on board.

View all of the technology services GrayMatter has to offer:

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Homeland Security Urges Industrial Cybersecurity

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) issued an alert about a malicious BrickerBot permanent Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack.

BrickerBot exploits hard-coded passwords in Internet of Things (IoT) devices to cause a permanent denial of service, locking operators out of their systems.

The team encourages asset owners to know that their control systems are deployed securely and not exposed to threats through open internet connections by thoroughly auditing their networks.

Control systems often have devices accessible to the internet without operators knowing, leaving them at a greater risk for an attack. Completing a vulnerability assessment allows operators to know what devices are connected, how strong authentication methods are, vulnerable firewalls and use of unauthorized remote access.

To learn more about cyber security for the OT, download the GrayMatter cyber security guide for operational technology:

Download the Guide

The Advancement of Smart Cities

San Diego announced a new partnership with GE to deploy the world’s largest Internet of Things platform using smart streetlights. This will reduce energy costs by 60-percent and transform them into a single, connected digital network that can optimize parking and traffic, enhance public safety and track air quality.

Over 3,000 smart sensors will be deployed, with a potential to expand an additional 3,000 in the future, to upgrade over 14,000 city lights.

By reducing energy needs, greenhouse gas admissions will be reduced. Light pollution will also decrease with the implemented new technology enabling dimming and brightening features either automatically or remotely, depending on natural light conditions.

GE’s intelligent lighting in San Diego. Image: GE Lighting

The GE Current CityIQ sensor nodes will support a range of applications varying from gunshot detection, to smart parking and air quality control.

“This technology is powerful. Downtown visitors will be able to find parking easily and in real time using a smart phone, and the environmental and transportation data will help Downtown meet the goals of the Climate Action Plan. This is a huge win for San Diego,” said Kris Michell, the President & CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership.

Deployment of the platform will begin in July and is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

It’s expected to save the city over $2.4 million annually in energy costs.

TechHub: Digital Disruption, IoT Expanding Digital Footprints and More

Digital Disruption Transcending Industry Borders

With the first quarter of 2017 coming to a close, it’s clear that the exponential growth within the technology industry is not slowing down.

25,000 new information-related jobs were created in February this year alone, according to Forbes.

As this tech push continues, we’re seeing more and more of the Digital Twin emerge as physical and digital worlds blend together.

The Digital Twin is the computerized companion of physical assets, using data sensors to show real-time data analytics.

The adoption of this trend is becoming increasingly popular as companies realize the countless benefits that the Industrial Internet of Things provides, and Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence become mainstream.

The biggest mistake companies are making right now is assuming these technologies won’t influence their business or impact their industry.

Industry 4.0 is real, and it’s here.

Smart technology is becoming integrated into every facet of life, resulting in customers having the ability to buy anything, anytime, anywhere.

“The convergence of cloud, mobile, social and data have ushered in a new wave of business models that will present unique challenges for various industries,” said Bob Weiler in Forbes.

With this new technology comes new challenges and questions emerging for industry leaders.

To stay ahead of the competition— and win— organizations will need partners who can provide a new level of knowledge and experience within the industry, according to Forbes.

Rethinking business models within critical industry operations is necessary to maximize performance.

The pace of change is accelerating fast. Organizations need to jump on board and embrace emerging digital technologies.

To learn the first three questions to ask in your digital transformation, join our webinar on Thursday, April 6, at 2:30 PM EST: Transform Your Operation: Vision Before Action.

Gray Matter Director of Professional Services John Benitz will demystify the beginning of the digital journey for you using his expertise on various transformations like the GE Brilliant Manufacturing process.

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Digital Transformation: Solving Big Manufacturing Problems

The top problems manufacturers are struggling with are visibility into operations, sharing information across one or multiple plants and allowing the right people to access the necessary data.

The solution? Digital transformation of plant operations.

“Digitizing production processes is more about running an efficient business than it is about jumping onto the next technology bandwagon,” said Industry Week.

Automating processes and storing big data on the cloud allows for a single connected platform with production visibility. It allows for a single-set of accurate data and increases the control plant operators need, according to Industry Week.

Instead of having information documented on manual paper processes like Excel spreadsheets, it can be accessed in real-time across one or multiple plants.

Access to product information, inventory, quality data and more increases the productivity and decreases downtime throughout the plant.

Automating the plant is also automating the communication, in turn freeing up people and resources. Instead of having to track down the necessary information and data, workers have instant access to it at a moment’s notice.

Going paperless and automating processes is a critical step within the industry, and lays the groundwork for future innovations.

Gray Matter has a new solution to help transform manual data entry processes into digital insights for manufacturers, utilities and energy companies.

Mobility@Work digitizes information that would have been buried in stacks of paper and puts data in a format that can be used for big picture analysis.

Hauling manifests, inspections, scheduling, incidents, inventory and time sheets are all transformed from piles on someone’s desk to an easy to read digital presentation.

“There are a lot of correlations you can make if you have the data working for you instead of in a stack of paper.” – Kemell Kassim, Gray Matter VP

Download the free white paper to learn how Gray Matter solved the manual data entry problem and helped save a leading energy company nearly $1 million in just the first year.

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IoT Devices Expanding Digital Footprints & Vulnerabilities

Security Week defines IoT devices as convenient.

They allow us to have access to data remotely and process it faster than ever.

However, with the convenience comes risk, and most people aren’t locking down their systems like they should be.

There are more avenues now than ever for cybercriminals to breach systems as more devices are connected and the digital footprint of plants are expanded.

The reality of IoT hacks is eminent. Recent research highlights how PLC controllers can be hacked and potentially taint water supply, according to Security Week. Not enough devices are accounted for, and too much personal and business data is intermingled.

The top recommendations to fix this are to get a clear policy in place, designate accountability and segment your network.

By having clear rules, placing risk and responsibility on people or teams and designating sections of your network help block the threat of cybercriminals. It makes finding an easy path into the network nonexistent.

IoT devices have a lot to offer in the world of operational technology and plant management, the risk just needs to be mitigated and vulnerabilities need to be tracked.

Gray Matter offers a vulnerability assessment for OT networks that creates a security baseline for each asset with an IP address.

In a recent interview with ARC Advisory Group, Gray Matter VP Kemell Kassim detailed recent cyber initiatives and ROI case studies.

Download the Q&A Here

Are You a Leader or a Follower: Driving Toward Operational Excellence

Looking Over Your Shoulder

We’ve all had it. That feeling of getting ahead in your business strategy just far enough only to stop and think – what’s everybody else doing?

It’s not a great place to be in. We’re taught to innovate and keep our eyes straight-ahead, focusing on our own work. But imagine how invaluable it would be to know what all the other food and beverage manufacturers are thinking, specifically how the best of the best operate.

How Leaders Get it Done

A recent study from The Aberdeen Group gives an inside look into what true leaders in the food and beverage industry focus on to achieve operational excellence. It’s centered on three key areas to achieve business success – production efficiency, product quality and safety and sustainability costs. Among the 170 food and beverage manufacturers surveyed, there were multiple key findings:

  • Leaders in the food and beverage industry reported a 20% higher Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), 47% fewer delayed shipments as a result of quality issues, and 5% reduction in waste to landfill.
  • Followers experienced an increase in energy consumption and zero change to wastewater costs, while leaders saw double digit improvements.

The gaps between the leaders and followers are pretty impressive—creating an opportunity to learn what the leaders are doing to stay ahead. What are the key factors that drive operational excellence? Download the full report here to discover more examples of the four key performance criteria to distinguish leaders from followers.

Download the Report

How They Do It

Executives in the food and beverage industry are generally managing enterprises that are asset-intensive, at the mercy of global commodity market and face both low margins and high demand visibility. Given these industry characteristics, companies must find new ways to achieve operational excellence.

A key finding in the study distinguishing leaders from followers has to do with decision making.

The Aberdeen Group found that not only are followers less efficient and less likely to meet delivery targets, but they also take almost a full day to respond to shipments with quality issues. This greatly limits their ability to minimize disruption and identify a root cause. Without the ability to track and trace shipments quickly, the risk and impact of recalls can be substantial.

According to the study, leaders are also 48% more likely to use analysis to improve operator productivity. By monitoring the data they can assign operators to complete tasks in real time as changes occur within their operations. This has a real impact on production efficiency.

Become a Leader

The report concludes with seven strategies to execute on your quest to leadership. The first step is to improve the flow of manufacturing data across the enterprise to increase visibility and optimize performance.

The bottom line is that the leaders surveyed are employing operational excellence initiatives with modern technology solutions. They’re digitizing their production processes to turn information into actionable insight—combining people, process and technology to move the operational excellence needle in the right direction.

In order to get there, however, it takes time and discussion. At our solution-focused annual user group, PIB 2016, we spotlight challenges and host breakout sessions to inspire conversation. The event includes success stories and presentations from a wide array of industries including manufacturing, food and beverage and many more.

Check out our operational excellence track of the PIB 2016 agenda today.

Learn More about PIB 2016

What We Can Learn About the Internet of Things from CES 2016

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held every January in Las Vegas, has been an integral part of the technology industry since 1967. The event is famed for introducing many ground-breaking technologies to the world– from the VCR in 1970, to Blu-Ray in 2003.

But this year, the Internet of Things (IoT) took center-stage.

According to Fortune, there were “thousands of square feet devoted to connected gadgets like Wi-Fi enabled TVs and lightbulbs you can control from your phone.” And amid the hyper-connected conversations, some IoT trends for the coming years were highlighted.

In fact,  of Fortune said that one trend spotted at CES was the IoT being viewed as a service instead of solely devices.

“This year, there was a subtle shift from building the device to designing services,” said Higginbotham. “A number of larger companies showed off connected products including Procter & Gamble with its Internet-connected air freshener that ties in to connected Nest Thermostat to spray air freshener to the optimal time to take advantage of your AC fans blowing air around your home.”

And Agence France-Presse of Industry Week  said that — after smartphone and browser wars– the war is now to be the “hub that connects the millions of connected objects” in our home or our lives. France-Presse dubbed it a “battle for digital life” and said it was ever-present at this year’s CES.

Interestingly enough, Higgenbotham also said that very few IoT demonstrations even mentioned obsolescence.

“Between the Samsung refrigerator with what looked like a giant Android phone in the door and a demonstration of a concept car with 3D street view delivered on-demand while driving, I realized that few people were talking about how to swap out or fix the techno-heavy innards of these connected devices without having to replace the entire product,” said Higgenbotham.

Another trend at CES? Internet-connected vehicles. According to Industry Week, numerous carmakers unveiled systems that connect not only to mobile devices, but to home networks– “enabling users to tap smart appliances or garage door openers, for example.”

And here are a few other notable stories from this week.

The Cloud and the Internet of Things are Inseparable

Speaking of CES 2016, Information Week said that like many of the Internet-connected devices shown off at the show, the Cloud is an inseparable part of IoT devices.

“Indeed, most new devices, from refrigerators to cars, have a massive cloud-based back end. The cloud components of these technologies are becoming more systemic. Indeed, the cloud is assumed,” said David Linthicum of Info World.

As time goes on, people expect more things to be connected. And Linthicum said that no matter what it is –a house appliance, a car — it will communicate with cloud servers.

Read more about the link between the Cloud and the IoT.

Star Wars Reveals a Dark Side to Cyber SecurityStarWars

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past couple of months, you’ve probably heard that a new Star Wars movie was released — “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” to be specific.

And while millions of people flocked to the theaters to enjoy the seventh movie in the saga, Raj Patel pointed out a deeper takeaway in a recent article. After watching all seven films, Patel noticed that cyber security is an issue we should pay attention to– whether in this galaxy or one far, far away.

Patel said that lack of encryption, unsecured ports, and more are just some of the similarities. Read more here.

Media We Link To:

“The evolution of the Consumer Electronics Show” – Mashable 

“The 6 Things CES Taught Us About The Internet of Things” – Fortune 

“CES: Battle for Digital Life Grabs Center Stage” – Industry Week 

“The cloud and the Internet of things are inseparable” – Info World

“‘Star Wars’ reveals dark side of cybersecurity” – Crain’s Detroit Business 

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