TechHub: Digital Transformation in Steel, the Industrial Technology Future & Pittsburgh Tech 50

Gerdau Saves Millions Annually, Accelerates Their Digital Transformation

$4.5 million in annual savings with a complete ROI in only 8 months.

Gerdau has enjoyed a long reputation as a process innovator in the steel industry for more than a century.

For a company with more than 35,000 people across 13 countries, the goal of a 20% reduction in maintenance cost was significant. It would not be easy to accomplish, but accomplishing the reduction was critical to the company’s profitability.

When an asset fails, the company loses an average of $12 thousand per hour in downtime.

The transformation Gerdau needed would take them into uncharted territory for many in the steel industry: the digital realm of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Dreaming big pays off

Download the case study to view the roadmap for digital transformation in the steel industry:

Download the Case Study

The Industrial Technology Future

Open software platforms are an increasingly popular trend within the industrial technology sector that is highlighting the important relationship between operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT).

For GE Digital, Predix is the nexus where app engines, digital twins, machine learning and asset performance management meet, said AutomationWorld after a meeting at GE Digital headquarters in San Ramon, Calif.

“Platforms are where tech is going,” said Gytis Barzdukas, head of product management for Predix at GE Digital. “Like Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Alphabet have their platforms in the consumer space, we want to do the same thing in industrial space. That’s why Predix is an open platform with regulated participation. Predix has been developed as a common data layer into which third-party supplier products can plug into.”

Although the focus in the past on Predix has focused on its cloud-based operations, but Barzdukas was quick to point that Predix can run operate at the edge, in the cloud or in hybrid applications.

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A diagram of the GE intelligent platform Predix. Image: AutomationWorld

Addressing cybersecurity concerns around the transmission and storage of such data in the cloud, Barzdukas said Predix currently uses public key encryption and is moving toward inclusion of private key capabilities for users who want it. Predix’s public key encryption security operates in addition to the security provided by Amazon Web Services on which Predix’s cloud functions run. Barzdukas added that Predix will also soon be running on Microsoft Azure.

Pittsburgh Tech 50

The Pittsburgh Technology Council’s Tech 50 finalists were announced, recognizing the most successful and innovative companies in the Pittsburgh area.

Companies range from health IT, life sciences, manufacturing, consumer products, consulting services and more, and are broken up into the following categories:

  • CEO of the Year
  • Solution Provider of the Year, Consulting and IT Services
  • Culture Leader of the Year
  • Innovator of the Year, Consumer Products
  • Solution Provider of the Year, Innovative Technology

GrayMatter is a finalist for Solution Provider of the Year, Innovative Technology, with CEO Jim Gillespie a finalist for CEO of the Year.

The award ceremony will be Thursday, October 12 at the Wyndham Grand Hotel.

TechHub: Ransomware Wreaking Global Havoc, Real-Time Asset Condition & Water Innovations

The Industrial Ransomware Wreaking Global Havoc

The recent global crisis of ransomware attacks on infrastructures and private businesses have left cyber experts and government authorities scrambling to double their efforts.

Computer systems were infected worldwide in June 2017 with a massive cyber attack similar to a recent assault that affected tens of thousands of machines internationally, causing critical infrastructures to take a major hit.

After recovering from a string of attacks that left thousands without power six months ago in December 2016, the citizens of Ukraine were faced with an even worse offense.

A.T.M.s stopped working, workers were forced to manually monitor radiation at the old, toxic Chernobyl nuclear plant due to computer failures and industrial employees worldwide were scrambling to respond to massive hacks.

“At the Chernobyl plant, the computers affected by the attack collected data on radiation levels and were not connected to industrial systems at the site, where, although all reactors have been decommissioned, huge volumes of radioactive waste remain. Operators said radiation monitoring was being done manually,” according to the New York Times.

The entirely new ransomware infected the systems of Ukraine’s power companies, metro services, airports and government ministries such as Kiev’s central post office.

The outbreak was the latest and most sophisticated in a series of attacks, using dozens of hacking tools, according to the NY Times.

The malware also had an impact internationally, causing system shutdowns of:

  • Danish shipping and transport company Moller-Maersk, resulting in an inability to process orders and its 76 terminals around the world became very congested.
  • Russian steel and oil firms Evraz and Rosneft.
  • French construction materials company Saint-Gobain.
  • Pharmaceuticals company Merck.
  • An Australian factory for chocolate giant Cadbury, resulting in halted production.
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Special Agent Keith Mularski, Unit Chief of the FBI Cyber Initiative & Resource Fusion Unit.

To continue the discussion on cyber espionage and industrial cyber security, join us at Transform 2017, our annual conference in Put-in-Bay, Ohio.

Special Agent Keith Mularski, Unit Chief of the FBI Cyber Initiative & Resource Fusion Unit heads the Cyber Initiative for the FBI and was part of an effort to declassify cyber threats and pass them on to industry.

Keith will walk through case studies of cyber incidents at US Steel, Alcoa and Westinghouse, revealing how the government communicated and worked together with industry to fight cyber crime.

Learn More About Transform 2017

Don’t Get Stuck in a Rut: Learn the True, Real-Time Condition of an Asset

Cars have data and analytics for when parts should be replaced, so why can’t your utility?

It can.

Like owning a car, the idea is similar for asset management. In a water treatment plant, pumps often come with a “best-by” sticker; a generic six-month date is stamped onto it, creating a time-based system for maintenance, regardless of usage.

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The date becomes the driving factor for servicing rather than following data.

But there is a better way to capture condition of assets consistently, accurately and efficiently.

The solution lies in combining two systems already in place and leveraging the findings to save time and money, drastically increasing uptime.

Download the white paper to learn how to leverage digital data to effectively and accurately forecast maintenance of assets.

Download the White Paper

Water Innovation Pact Signed to Promote Smart Water Networks

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) and Smart Water Networks Forum (SWAN) recently formed a pact to jointly promote the development of best industry practices for sustainable smart water networks.

Smart water networks detect system leaks and manage energy through incorporating technology, according to Water Technology, an online water news publication.

“Supporting innovation is essential to the water sector, and to further development of intelligent water systems,” WEF executive director Eileen O’Neill said.

In the wake of technological advancements in the water sector, the combination of the groups’ focus on smart wastewater network management and integrated intelligent water practices will provide new skill sets and knowledge, allowing for workforce advancement.

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Co-innovated smart drinking fountain by GrayMatter & DC Water.

The partnership seeks to determine common barriers of implementing intelligent water practices, technology trends and new solutions.

GrayMatter and DC Water have recently had success through a partnership of their own by co-innovating a smart sensor drinking fountain.

A drinking fountain that monitors water quality and flow in real time – giving users more confidence in the water they are drinking and saving money spent on maintenance and testing. The groundbreaking project addresses lead levels – one of the most pressing issues in water.

“This project redefines public water consumption, putting people and clean water first,” Jim Gillespie, GrayMatter CEO.

The new tech fountains have sensors that use real-time data and analytics to monitor both water quality and flow levels, sending that information to the cloud and back, alerting when water quality measurements begin to deteriorate.

The co-innovation project is just the beginning of many ways private sector innovation and independent operations are joining forces to make water operations more efficient, at a lower cost. The fountains are set to be used in public places this fall, including schools.

Learn more about the GrayMatter and DC Water water innovation project at Transform 2017:

  Learn More About Transform 2017

 

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: 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.

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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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