TechHub: Putting the Industrial Internet Hype to Work, Smart Service Energy & More

Putting the Industrial Internet Hype to Work

The Industrial Internet of Things dominates manufacturing hype. Beyond this, certain manufacturers are putting powerful technologies to work – General Electric employees, for example, with their brilliant factories.

GE’s remanufacturing plant in Grove City, Pa., is a shining example of one of those brilliant factories, according to Industry Week.

Once a food packaging plant decades ago, the factory has transformed into a high-tech home for the remanufacture of diesel engines for locomotives.

“We’re taking digital technologies that people are really comfortable with outside of work and bringing them into work — whether that’s iPads, or phones, or just visual data,” said Jamie Miller, the former GE senior vice president and CEO of GE Transportation who was just promoted to CFO. “It was something that people could readily see because they use it outside of work.”

By doing so, it created a condition-based manufacturing system that allowed the workers to tailor what they do to rebuild engines in a faster, more productive manner, according to Miller.

Its brilliant factories  —  Grove City is one of less than a dozen around the world  —  revolve around lean manufacturing principles, additive manufacturing, advanced manufacturing technologies and digital manufacturing. Its industrial cloud platform, Predix, allows customers to replicate that on a smaller level, extending industrial automation to the cloud.

John Deere Investing in AI for Autonomous Farming

John Deere is buying a California artificial intelligence startup that makes machine learning tools for agriculture as part of their quest to automate farming, according to the Verge.

The cutting-edge machine vision tools help farmers scan fields, assess crops and get rid of weeds — all at the same time.

Source: Blue River Technology

A set of cameras fixed onto crop sprayers use deep learning to identify plants, hitting weeds with pesticide and crops with fertilizer, all of which can be customized by the farmer.

This can save up to 90% of the volume of chemicals being sprayed, while also reducing labor costs.

John Deere has been working on autonomous tractors before Tesla and Google even existed, according to the Verge, but its current most advanced vehicles only assist navigation.

The new technology creates a more efficient crop spraying system, allowing farmers to do more with less.

Smart Service Strategy: GE Oil  & Gas Case Study

In 2014, GE Oil & Gas management wanted to improve the revenue capacity of its field service operation, which they were confident could be accomplished by streamlining operations and increasing the billable utilization of their 575+ field service engineers (FSEs).

They knew visibility could be created with a smart service platform, switching over from most engagements being handled using paper forms or whichever process was customary within a particular geographical region.

“No one likes to change,” said GE Oil & Gas Information Management Subsea Services Project Manager Lydie Victoire. “But to increase profitability, we needed our people to adopt this new way of doing field service.”

smart service strategy

The solution was going digital, but in a completely customized way that allowed a set of field service functions for the initial project rollout to look a lot like the old paper-based process.

Going digital allowed them to:

“To optimize field efficiency, GE Oil & Gas needed more real-time visibility into its field service operation,” says GE Oil & Gas Executive Service Director Leigh Martin.

“We needed better data on the work activities of our field service engineers. And for that, we needed a field service platform.”

Download the case study to learn more about how GrayMatter innovates with partners on smart service strategies.

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TechHub: New GE CEO Pushes for Digital Future, US Manufacturing Growing Fast & Cyber Security

Our Future is Digital

New General Electric CEO John Flannery put an end to the constant question, “where is the company headed?”

“I have a lot of decisions to make in my new role as CEO, but one decision is easy: GE is all in on digital,” said Flannery in a blog post on LinkedIn.

The digital age is bringing innovation and productivity for industries everywhere, allowing real, tangible outcomes for business.

Through scalability, installed base and industrial expertise, GE plans to be a major player in helping lead this transformation.

With a focus on their core verticals leveraging energy, oil and gas, aviation, healthcare, rail and mining, to help create a strong Predix ecosystem.

GE’s previous CEO Jeff Immelt at the 2016 Minds + Machines conference.

“The company I joined 30 years ago made machines that made the world work better,” said Flannery. “We are still that company, but the world has changed, and the industrial world is increasingly powered by digital applications.

We are part of this transformation, and we have a focused strategy that I believe is best for our customers and for GE.”

Join John Flannery and GrayMatter October 25 in San Francisco at Minds + Machines, an event that connects industrial thought leaders and showcases technology that helps solve the world’s biggest industrial IoT challenges.

Learn More About Minds + Machines

US Manufacturing Expands at Fastest Pace in 13 Years

American manufacturing expanded last month at the fastest pace in 13 years, according to Industry Week.

The strength of advances in the Institute for Supply Management’s gauges partly reflects impacts from hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which forced shutdowns of refineries, chemical plants, retail establishments and car dealerships which were flooded in the storms and had merchandise destroyed.

However, the nation’s producers had already been on firmer footing because of improving global demand and an increase in US capital spending, according to Industry Week.

Manufacturing

Students visiting a PPG paint and coatings plant for Manufacturing Day 2017 in Delaware.

Orders are projected to remain strong in coming months as Manufacturing Day approaches.

Manufacturing Day is a national celebration of modern manufacturing, meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers. Manufacturing Day occurs on the first Friday in October — this year’s falls on Oct. 6, 2017.

Statistical analysis of key event reporting suggests Manufacturing Day 2016 affected 595,341 participants, including 257,607 students.

Manufacturing Day is about celebrating manufacturing by providing an opportunity to focus collective attention on manufacturing, aiming to:

  • Empower manufacturers
  • Change public perceptions of manufacturing
  • Introduce people to manufacturing careers
  • Draw attention to the roles manufacturers play in their communities
  • Underscore the economic and social significance of manufacturing

Since 2012, MFG Day events has grown over 1,000%, with manufacturers in all 50 United States and Puerto Rico consistently participating.

Source: MFGDay.com

According to survey results by Deloitte from students that attended events in 2016:


89% of students were more aware of manufacturing jobs in their communities.

84% of students were more convinced that manufacturing provides careers that are interesting and rewarding.

64% of students were more motivated to pursue careers in manufacturing.

71% of students were more likely to tell friends, family, parents or colleagues about manufacturing after attending an event.

Every Third Computer Attacked in 2017 From Manufacturing Sector

In the first half of the year the manufacturing industry was the most susceptible to cyberthreats, with the industrial control systems computers of manufacturing companies accounting for almost one third of all attacks, according to Security Magazine.

The majority of the cyber threats were in manufacturing companies that produced various materials, equipments and goods. Other highly affected areas include engineering, education and food & beverage. Energy companies accounted for almost 5% of all attacks.

Special Agent Keith Mularski, Unit Chief of the FBI Cyber Initiative & Resource Fusion Unit, spoke at GrayMatter’s annual conference on industrial cyber security.

The main source of threats was the internet. Attempts to download malware or access malicious phishing web sources were blocked on over 20% of the ICS computers.

The reason this is such a high number is because of:

  • Interfaces between corporate and industrial networks
  • Availability of limited internet access from industrial networks
  • Connection of computers on industrial networks to the internet from operators’ mobile phones

Ransomware attacks on industrial companies tripled by June this year, with various large crime campaigns.

The WannaCry epidemic was one of the most notable, affecting 13.4% of all computers in the industrial infrastructure. ExPetr was a notorious encryption that followed, with 50% of the computers attacked in the manufacturing and oil & gas industries.

“In the first half of the year we’ve seen how weakly protected industrial systems are – pretty much all of the affected industrial computers were infected accidentally and as the result of attacks targeted initially at home users and corporate networks,” said Evgeny Goncharov, head of critical infrastructure defense department at Kaspersky Lab.

cyber

US pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. was affected by the ExPetya attacks earlier this year.

“In this sense, the WannaCry and ExPetr destructive ransomware attacks proved indicative, leading to the disruption of enterprise production cycles around the world, as well as logistical failures, and forced downtime in the work of medical institutions. The results of such attacks can provoke intruders into further actions. Since we are already late with preventive measures, companies should think about proactive protective measures now to avoid ‘firefighting’ in future.”

Billions of sensors are being rolled out rapidly as the Industrial Internet expands. The devices for operational technology are very different than those found on information technology networks and they need specialized technology to protect them. 

Download the GrayMatter Cyber Security Guide for Operational Technology to get a comprehensive understanding of security in the OT world including top vulnerabilities. The guide walks you through the first steps in knowing what’s on your network and has specific advice about the assessment process from our top cyber security consultants.

Download the Cyber Guide

TechHub: GE Looks to Become IIoT Leader, Industrial Job Growth in US & Industrial Cyber Security

GE Relocates To Boston, Looks to Become an IIOT Leader Amid Transformation

General Electric, the largest US industrial company, is going through a transformation. The company has a new CEO at the helm, relocated headquarters to Boston and most importantly is trying to position itself as a manufacturing leader in the digital era, according to Industry Week.

“If we go back in time, say in 2011 to 2012, when as a business, we were facing challenges, Jeff (Immelt, former CEO) realized that unless we leverage software and analytics, true productivity would not be gained,” said Mark Bernardo, GE’s VP of Professional Services, at the company’s temporary new headquarters in Boston on August 30.

Since then, GE has made several strategic business moves to leverage its core competencies: spun off its financial services unit, GE Capital; acquired French company Alstom’s power and grid business; launched GE Digital to bring various software groups such as engineering, product development, and IT under one umbrella, and opened its cloud-based software platform for the Industrial Internet, Predix, to outside developers.

Despite GE’s goal to cut $2B by the end of 2018, “there is no change in long-term strategy as it relates to digital,” said Jeff Erhardt, GE’s VP of Intelligent Systems.

Erhardt said that machine learning, artificial intelligence along with domain expertise will help boost GE’s digital future. And Predix, its own IOT platform, will play a central role in managing complex data. The platform currently has 100 apps – from MRI machines to turbines to jet engines – created by developers, including many from outside, who mine complex industrial data to make the machines perform more safely and efficiently.

GE’s former CEO Jeff Immelt at Minds + Machines 2016 in San Francisco.

Join GrayMatter in October at Minds + Machines, GE’s premier Industrial Internet event dedicated to software, innovation, and the most powerful digital industrial outcomes.

Minds + Machines will bring together the best and the brightest of the technology world, including GE customers, developers, partners, industrial thought leaders and technology innovators.

Learn More

What’s Driving Job Growth in Industrial America?

Manufacturing and mining jobs are up this year after having fallen in 2016, in which 100,000 jobs were lost, according to the New York Times.

Rising commodity prices has resulted in a jump in hiring within the mining sector. After plunging in late 2014 and throughout 2015, energy prices have somewhat recovered. That has helped stabilize employment in the oil industry. Meanwhile, surging prices for metals like gold and copper are spurring activity in the mining industry.

The US dollar dropping throughout 2017 has also played a major role in manufacturing success. As major exporters who are dependent on overseas customers for a big part of their sales, manufacturers often find themselves at the mercy of the dollar.

When the dollar surged in 2016, American-made equipment was effectively more expensive for foreign buyers. This year’s drop, on the other hand, is a boon for manufacturers as well as for big American companies who draw a big portion of their sales from overseas, like Caterpillar and McDonald’s.

Software-defined Industrial Networks Deliver Cyber Security Breakthroughs

Finding a cost-effective cyber security plan for industrial control systems remains a pain point.

Cyber security is often cited as the leading barrier to growth of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

ARC Advisory Group published a report suggesting two solutions of promising software-defined networking (SDN) technologies, which can improve cyber security in both new and existing industrial control systems.

One: Network Management Through SDN Protocol OpenFlow

OpenFlow is a single protocol that replaces existing routing and access protocols embedded in Ethernet switches, allowing the entire network of switches to be managed from a central SDN controller.

This has typically been used in large enterprise networks, such as Google, and in large data centers to improve performance.

Ukraine power grid

Kiev, Ukraine, was one of the victims hurt the most in multiple malware attacks on the Ukrainian power grid at the end of 2016 and entering into 2017.

This is also applicable to a much smaller industrial network, or part of an industrial network.

Engineers report that the largest advantage of their SDN network is the ability to lock down the substation network and immediately become aware of any unexpected packets entering. This improves the overall security of networks within electric power substations, which have increasingly become high value targets for cyber warfare internationally.

Two: Host Identity Protocol

Host Identity Protocol (HIP) creates and manages a secure identity-based overlay network that serves the automation components while cloaking them from general visibility.

The fundamental idea is to decouple the IP address from packet forwarding rules, instead authorizing and delivering network services based on provable cryptographic identities.

It also delivers a new Host Identity Namespace that is compatible with existing IP and DNS Namespaces, enabling global IP mobility. It allows organizations to overcome IP addressing issues and move an IP resource within and between physical, virtual or cloud networks without having to change the IP or overlay network policies.

Using HIP in place of IP addresses as identity, it allows a secure identity to be established among sets of devices and the IP address continue to serve its purpose as a locator only.

ARC Recommendations

ARC ends the report with recommendations that manufacturers and utilities should develop use cases leading to broader plans for how SDN could improve cyber security, mobility support and remote access services for existing plants, familiarize themselves with the roadmaps of their network infrastructure suppliers to apply to their own use cases, as well as carefully evaluate the current and evolving technologies and their potential impact on cyber security and performance.

 

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.

cloud platform

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.

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