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: P&G Finishes Renewable Energy Plant, Pittsburgh Top Contender for Amazon HQ2 & more

Pittsburgh is emerging as a top contender for Amazon’s new headquarters, HQ2, that has cities across the US competing.

Areas of consideration include a 15-acre riverfront industrial property on the North Side near Rivers Casino, the 28-acre former Civic Arena site in the lower Hill District, the 195-acre World Trade Center site at Pittsburgh International Airport and various places such as Lawrenceville and Cranberry, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“It’s not us dictating sites. It’s us partnering with [Amazon] to help them achieve the maximum opportunity. We have a lot of good sites that could fit that bill,” said county Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

HQ2 could bring as many as 50,000 jobs over 10 to 15 years and $5 billion in investment to the city.

The requirements for the city Amazon is looking for is in a metro area with a population of more than 1 million people, with a stable and business-friendly environment with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent.

Pittsburgh is at an advantage due to the booming tech industry in recent years.

Retaining more tech talent than ever due to big tech firms moving offices here such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Uber, neighborhoods are transforming into younger and more diverse communities.

East Liberty is turning into a tech hub, according to the New York Times, with Google Pittsburgh’s 500 employees stationed there alongside Duolingo and start-up AlphaLab.

One of the main attractions? Oakland’s Carnegie Mellon University, which features a prominent school of computer science. Students are researching the field of artificial intelligence and machine-learning, robotics, programming and more — and they’re staying due to the huge employment opportunities.

Maya Design, a Pittsburgh based company, was recently hired to help craft a proposal to lure Amazon.

“I feel very optimistic about where things are headed right now,” said Fitzgerald.

P&G Finishes Renewable Energy Plant

After committing to reduce energy consumption and obtain 30% of its energy from renewable resources by 2020, Procter & Gamble announced its completion of their 50-megawatt biomass-fueled combined heat and power plant at one of its largest U.S. facilities, located in Georgia, according to Industry Week.

Steam from the plant will be used to power a generator at the Marine Corps Logistics Base nearby, helping them increase its energy security and utilize renewable sources.

source: P&G

In addition to P&G’s wind energy project in Texas, this plant doubles the company’s use of renewable energy, getting them two-thirds of the way to their goal.

“By powering our Bounty and Charmin plant with renewable energy, consumers can feel good about putting these products in their carts,” said Stefano Zenezini, P&G Vice President Product Supply and Sustainability. “We are using our innovative capabilities and those of our external partners to drive meaningful change that is good for the environment and good for business.”

Biomass is made up of wood, crops and more that would otherwise be burned or end up in landfills.

The plant’s fuel supply will come from local biomass that would otherwise be burned or sent to a landfill, including tree tops, limbs, branches and scrap wood, crop residuals such as pecan and peanut shells, and sawdust.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette People on the Move: People Doing Big Things in Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s “People on the Move” segment featured GrayMatter CEO Jim Gillespie as a newly appointed board member of the Carnegie Science Center in the nonprofit section.

The Carnegie Science Center provides valuable scientific experiences and engages in outreach programs to reach the local community, blending the line between learning and fun to inspire children to explore careers in STEM.

This comes right before the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s Tech 50 awards, 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.

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: Digitizing data forensics, Coke using AI and Big Data & Digital Twins

Digitizing Data Forensics

A control system that’s responsible for servicing over 150,000 people has multiple applications, each with its own data source, and requires a tedious, time-consuming process of manually sifting through paper logbooks and binder after binder of printed reports when gaps exist in data sets.

This wastes time, money and causes a major headache for plant employees.

The City of Barrie was determined to fix this, saving 60 to 70-percent of the time previously used as a result of digital transformation.

The implementation of a new data management tool allowed:

  • Data commenting
  • Workflow for report approvals
  • Tag merge
  • Lab data integration and electronic logbooks

Download the white paper to learn more about how the City of Barrie saved time, money and frustrations from their digital transformation:

Download White Paper

Join GrayMatter at WEFTEC 2017 in Chicago from Sept. 30 – Oct. 4, booth #6549

WEFTEC is recognized as the world’s largest annual water quality technical conference and exhibition, providing extensive educational opportunities and unparalleled access to the field’s most cutting-edge technologies and services.

The Amazing Ways Coca Cola Uses Artificial Intelligence and Big Data To Drive Success

Coca Cola was one of the first globally-recognized brands outside of the IT world to speak about big data, according to Forbes.

“AI is the foundation for everything we do. We create intelligent experiences. AI is the kernel that powers that experience,” said Greg Chambers, global director of digital innovation.

Coke announced earlier this year they were launching Cherry Sprite as a new flavor based on data collected from their self-service soft drink fountains, which allows customers to mix their own drinks.

Coca Cola’s Freestyle drink machine that collects data from customers’ popular drink choices.

This allows Coke to pick the most popular combinations and launch them as a ready-made, canned drink.

What’s next for Coke? They’re looking to develop a virtual assistant AI bot, like Alexa and Siri, to reside in vending machines for greater personalization.

According to Forbes, users will be able to order their favorite blend from any vending machine, with the AI adapting the machines’ behavior depending on its location. This could result in exciting, lively vending machines in malls and entertainment complexes and more functional ones in a hospital.

Digital Twins: Distilling Science from Fiction

Digital twins sounds like a concept evoked from science fiction; people recreating themselves as avatars in computer games like The Sims and living out an alternative reality in the digital realm.

That might be the world of fiction, but digital twins aren’t that far off what the creators of The Matrix envisaged, according to The Manufacturer.

Digital twins are digital renderings of physical equipment, displayed on a headset, computer, tablet or other device, showing real-time data about a range of measures such as condition and historic performance, to its current position and any external factors acting on it.

One whiskey company is using digital twinning on a scaled down level to monitor their production line.

Digital twinning has primarily been used to monitor high-value assets such as wind turbines, aircraft engines and other highly-technical and expensive engineering systems, to track all the data they produce and deliver it to technicians in remote locations.

A specific new trend for digital twinning has recently begun to emerge from manufacturing, according to The Manufacturer, of scaling down to lower levels. This allows it to be used in assets that aren’t necessarily high value in themselves, but create high value products. Read More.

 

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.

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