TechHub: The Internet of Energy, Digital Solutions in Water & Brilliant Manufacturing

The Internet of Energy: Big Data & Electrons

The Internet of Things (IoT) is an industry-wide term for connected and smart devices within a network of connectivity that allows them to collect and exchange data.

A new and not-so-understood concept, being dubbed the “internet of power” by Forbes, is applying the use of big data, machine learning and IoT technology to replace the one-way, current model of energy delivery.

GE Power, that supplies 30-percent of the world’s electricity, has been developing this opportunity in an effort to revolutionize the electricity industry.

“The electricity industry is still following a one-hundred-year-old model which our founder, Edison, helped to proliferate,” said Chief Digital Officer at GE Power Ganesh Bell in Forbes.

Bell believes that can change, and that the answer is to take advantage of the current grid-based generation and delivery mechanism, increasing it with the flow of data.

This will take that linear model and move it to a networked model; taking every electron, associating it with a data bit, and optimizing it.

Creating this new system of “smart” energy distribution will pave the way for innovative structures in the future such as a reliable network of energy for charging stations, aiding society in the move away from fossil fuels.

This adoption of IoT technology will transform the power industry to a $1.3 trillion field within the next 10 years, according to Forbes.

Join us in Chicago on April 10th for Digital Day to learn more about the digital, industrial transformation and connect with top thought leaders from companies like Johnson & Johnson, Gray Matter, GE and more.

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Brilliant Factory in Grove City Puts New Life in Old Engines



The engine remanufacturing plant in Grove City, PA, has been operating for 5 years, occupies 440,000-square feet and employs more than 400 people.

The facility has made a huge transformation from being a food packaging plant into being one of GE’s first seven high-tech “brilliant” factories.

Gray Matter, through a partnership with GE, has helped implement advanced technology such as sensors that allow workers to measure and see real-time data at a glance. This improves reliability, has reduced downtime by 10 to 20-percent and boosts productivity.

The Grove City plant refurbishes diesel engines, taking old engines and give them life again.

This used to require works to manually tighten bolts in a repetitive motion by hand, using machines weighing in at 40-pounds on 41,000-pound engines, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 

This new technology allowed them to have an automated way to uniformly tighten the bolts in a sequence, preventing possible injury to the workers and creating a standard for all of the bolts.

It also gives plant managers the ability to call up data on a tablet or smart phone rather than touring plant operations on foot, allowing them to address problems sooner and supervise workers remotely.

Join Gray Matter on April 18th for our Toronto Seminar and learn more about digital innovations in manufacturing, water and energy.

Connect with leaders from companies such as GE Digital, CyberX, Eramosa and more for a full day of discussion, followed by an optional Blue Jays v. Red Sox game.

Register Now

Partnering Digital Solutions & IIoT Technology to Benefit Water


The ultimate goal for water and wastewater utilities is to always be safer in order to protect the communities they serve.

GE Water put out on social this week a piece written by Steve Davis, a business development leader at GE Power, Water & Process Technologies.

It discusses the problems of the world of water and how the solutions lie within industry partnerships.

According to Davis, there is no single company in the water industry that can provide connectivity, platform, software and analytics all in one.

A quote from Gray Matter VP of Water in Water Innovations: Creating a Better Living.

The solutions to these problems are exist, however are still in their infancy and fragmented.

By uniting experts within the industry, a combined commercial effort is created through a mutually beneficial relationship.

By connecting top industry thought leaders, the partnerships cultivate into innovative ideas that can excel the industry and pace of the digital revolution. It simplifies data integration, and takes away the once overwhelming feeling for customers by interconnecting platforms.

New technologies are giving people hope that they can achieve better standards of living, and Gray Matter is helping to lead the way in the water evolution.

Download our white paper Water Innovations Create Better Living to read real customer success stories of increased efficiency and profits through innovative technology.

Download the White Paper

How IIoT is Revolutionizing Utilities

This post originally appeared in TechCrunch. 

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is creating huge opportunities in the water and wastewater industries, adding value to both the utility and the consumer. Connected machines are reshaping the way these utilities operate, allowing them to make smarter and more informed decisions.

By driving up innovation, water utilities are driving down cost. Here’s what they’re up to.

Treating water and wastewater requires chemical processes that can now be monitored more accurately using digital data collection.

These digital transformations are taking the guesswork out of chemical processing and allow utilities to optimize the amount of chlorine dollars spent to maintain safe levels — saving time, money and empowering operators to make fewer mistakes.

IIoT and Wastewater Clarification

Another IIoT development, a new SaaS application will calculate wastewater clarifier tank performance — providing quick analysis on a critical step in the wastewater process. The tool, called ClariFind, alerts utilities as they’re getting close to a failure before they experience it.

ClariFind will predict when sludge will overflow and be released. This kind of problem causes EPA issues and fines that can run in the millions of dollars. It will also be able to predict a thickening failure, which is when the effluent doesn’t settle correctly and creates a costly sludge blanket in the tank. ClariFind is just one part of a water operations suite of productivity enhancers — solutions as a service.

Predictive analytics are also solving monitoring problems that were not previously possible for utilities. For example, there are a large number of pumps that are commonly found within water facilities, and digitized data is making it possible for companies to accurately predict when these pumps might fail — ahead of time. It’s similar to the predictive analytic technology used in jet engine checks between airline flights.

This cloud-based application easily connects to pumps and helps companies avoid costly and inconvenient failures, allowing engineers to schedule controlled maintenance rather than reactive maintenance.

Concepts are in the works to apply this type of predictive technology to residential properties as well, in order to help home owners and property managers predict sump pump failures, for instance, before the basement floods. This technology will be a must-have asset for seasonal homes that don’t have inhabitants year-round. Utilities are leading the way in pilot stages for this type of residential technology.

Partnerships between technology companies and utility companies are facilitating innovation.

Safety procedures are also being monitored and enforced more closely by keeping track of them using digitized technology. In Florida, the water division of the Orlando Utilities Commission is using IIoT technology to remind employees of protocol procedures when dangerous chlorine leaks are detected. The safety procedure is sent to a worker’s device to be confirmed before access to the contaminated area is granted.

Both private companies and government agencies are utilizing IIoT technology to increase efficiency and profitability in water. GE has launched an industrial platform called Predix, a cloud-based platform as a service (PaaS) that enables asset performance management on an industrial scale. For water utilities, Predix will help utilities organize time-series data to monitor asset functionality.

The Environmental Protection Agency has technology that will be used to create a new way to digitally improve the monitoring of water age and water quality. This is a very important issue for consumers because when water ages and sits in a pipe for too long, water quality goes down — which was one part of the problem at play in the Flint water crisis. We expect an analogous approach to the way Google Maps handles traffic to represent the water age, enabling municipalities to monitor this more easily.

Running a water utility is becoming more like running a business.

Collaboration in Technology & Utilities

Utilities are no longer solely relying on customers for funding, they’re collaborating and looking at alternative revenue streams to supplement cost. While power utilities have been leading the way on alternative revenue streams, water utilities are now following suit.

The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water) has begun to commercialize their intellectual property, giving them a new revenue channel. For example, they are commercializing their water ammonia versus nitrate algorithm (which is something that keeps the right chemical balance needed for breaking down wastewater) and selling it to other treatment plants.

Partnerships between technology companies and utility companies are facilitating innovation and developing solutions to become cleaner and more efficient at a rapid pace. It truly is a transformative time in the industry, and the results couldn’t be more pure — better drinking water for everyone.

New technologies are giving people hope that they can achieve better standards of living and Gray Matter couldn’t be prouder to lead the way in the water evolution.

Download the white paper to read more on IoT in water, game-changing technology and real Gray Matter customer stories that increase efficiency and profitability in water.
Download the Water Innovations White Paper

ICYMI: Automation News Roundup, Week Ending April 24

The Game has Been Changed

Data isn’t meant only for scientists and analysts. Recently, athletic performance has been measured through data analysis, according to an article in The Guardian.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/chillihead/3149619647/in/photolist-835JJe-91SE4v-rBATc6-5NjCc2-dPUJPG-619wo2-dPP7SZ-dPP7rH-dqk6A2-dPPdBg-dPPdiV-dqk6Tr-dqkbkd-dqk3dP-dHZkhb-dHZcn5-dqk5cq-dqk3Cm-53Yt4F-dHZhxj-dPPdrM-dPPckH-dPPbCT-dPP7DD-dqk5u7-dHZfAs-dPUPg7-dqk5AR-dqjZgt-dRGNYi-dRGLpF-dHZkwf-dHTHgF-dPP9Qv-dPUKpq-dPP8kr-dHZji5-dHTM6e-dRGNfp-dHTLox-dHZdGL-dHZdfd-dHZcfW-4SrtP2-dRGU5z-dRNp6W-rBAQvp-dHTSzP-dHZjMU-dRNsGW

Photo courtesy Chilli Head

It’s possible to now track players’ speed and agility and touches of the ball, which can make a huge impact on athletic growth.

But that’s not all- the data side of sports can also affect the business side, as well.

“The good news is, managers and fans alike appear to be addicted to data. So, the opportunity to collect more will inevitably make sports more compelling for fans and attract larger audiences. The opportunities for brands, if they can get the fit right, is enormous,” according to the article.

Eventually, it can even mean a more exciting and engaging experience for the viewer.

“As Professor Steve Haake, director of the Centre for Sports Engineering Research at Sheffield Hallam University, says: ‘Sport has adopted technology rapidly over the last ten years, collecting data to improve athletic performance. Now, professional clubs have realised that this data is valuable in other ways too, to make the match-day experience more exciting and to reach those at home, not even at the game. This is the current revolution in sport,'” quoted in The Guardian article.

Mobile Trends of 2015

What does “going online” or “browsing online” mean to you? Do you conjure up an image of accessing a PC or a laptop? Or do you see yourself pulling your smartphone out of your pocket to access the web?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/128539140@N03/15773553090/in/photolist-9wZWSx-q7hS9G-mQCsaE-7Dg1rL-aGSV1n-q2RzMU-podeEo-eghTGo-dgah17-fHr5pX-b2NN32-6prZBn-dKM4XF-aGSRsr-qBeo56-8pJWJV-aGSRaM-D3NJb-9mg3Zz-dMrBxA-dgagZ1-dMm3VD-penr48-pMcwE9-bJSXb4-8S4Xsi-r2tiqT-dKjeRA-7XHVjx-a4wKfA-ae1cnm-cJUpbJ-pEJzKw-9nb51d-6prYxP-fEhJrB-9GJuq1-baVzHV-oTn4h7-9mj8t1-a8wg5A-abN4Q4-gWt4A5-9U9Jnb-fvT5P7-eoxTxF-aeuiYT-pekyub-fRVSdK-kJJSom

Photo courtesy Jake Stimpson

According to a recent report done by Pew Research, that seems to be the reality these days.

Nearly two-thirds of all Americans now own a smartphone, up 35% from 2011.

The report revealed that mobile browsing is actually a crucial connection to the web, as 10% of Americans now use smartphones as the sole avenue to go online. These individuals choose to not have access to the Internet in any other manner.

And as many probably expected, the age bracket of 18-29 rely heavily on mobile browsing.

What are we looking up when we use our smartphones?

  • 62% use their smartphones to look up health-related conditions or ailments
  • 57% do online banking
  • 44% are interested in real estate or places to live
  • 43% look up information related to a job (18% actually submit a job application with their smartphone!)

 Read the full report here. 

Getting Digital in the Grocery Aisle

Phys.Org recently shared how start-ups are beginning to make appearances in the food industry.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov/13065728104/in/photolist-5nixgd-oCxdTp-oCxCYt-9qDaK3-iRGFjY-kUzgLd-5ZbZTv-eZStwD-nqyj4G-7Mjea-oAziKh-kUypWK-eZS3Re-8btUqk-h8pZq1-eZSqKc-h8rhJe-nm9uaj-bgdKwa-nqQtWD-kUyZgD-iREwYm-nnUyRz-8bxbnE-noMW1S-H9ZsV-eZS6GX-eZSpmK-f17kGj-f17EXU-eZRXkD-5gtURW-f17T6Q-eZS89K-eZSMkP-iREDLQ-5xJiww-5V5evP-eZSLhK-6SVSZj-eZSCna-4kGysi-iLbtRB-cTu8fo-nnULLr-9wE28P-hjDeoX-4xJUBp-f17grJ-cWfFyL

Photo courtesy USDA

The app, Fetch Rewards, allows grocery shoppers to gain savings and loyalty points while shopping. The app even gives valuable data to both the grocer and the product manufacturers.

“As he makes his way through the store, Hansen, 65, scans bar codes from milk, cheese, mushrooms and other items as he puts them into his cart. The app keeps a running total of his selections, automatically applies discounts and allows him to speed through a special check-out line. ‘I just hate the electronics, but the money savings I like,’ Hansen said, ” in the phys.org post.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-04-startups-digital-technology-grocery-aisles.html#jCp

Keeping the Glass Half-Full

According to GE Reports, water scarcity is becoming a hot issue once again. Droughts like in California and in Texas prompt the need to possibly begin rationing water.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jenny-pics/4551342796/in/photolist-7WbPDw-ehpb1M-iZDfd-34v8Jy-6wSiP5-4q8Akq-dvBT5M-6uxTRC-6wN7Kg-6wN7Yz-6wN89z-3gn6hV-6ijkrc-5UhCrs-6Lnco6-f3AtMF-ehuUhW-6534JH-7iNyba-bTQpVc-9srH7y-eghNvZ-bpkyr9-tdy6c-kJA7Bj-pvpGxJ-5tFwKC-ardYyR-7RFZxB-5xp8NP-a9JiU-5TTUfg-dVy7PS-2nEkS-k6TeEL-rAyGDg-bEPm7E-7Hc1gx-jih6Gg-CchJS-c8wuVq-KCC9G-5RMU9V-bi97Mt-6fLxxj-CqJyt-2oA3GC-4UEVh4-6ivyT1-gaG9j

Photo courtesy jenny downing

Unfortunately, lack of water is a problem faced by many countries. GE reports that a study done by the U.N. found that  two-thirds of the world’s population could be vulnerable to water shortages and 1.8 billion people would be living in “countries or regions with absolute water scarcity” by 2025.

 

[su_quote]In Algiers, the capital of Algeria, residents could not depend on having enough water in their pipes to fill up their teapots for decades. But in 2008, the North African country built the continent’s largest desalination plant and tapped a huge body of water located on its doorstep: the Mediterranean Sea. Today, the plant, located in the central Hamma neighborhood, is using GE technology to supply the city with 53 million gallons of drinking water every day. That’s enough to satisfy one quarter of Algiers’ daily usage.[/su_quote]

Read the rest of the report by GE. 

 

Media we link to:

“A whole new ball game: how data and tech are changing sport” – The Guardian

U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015″ Pew Research 

Startups put digital technology in the grocery aisles” – Phys.org

“A Glass Half Full: These Water Treatment Technologies Are So Powerful They Can Fight Drought in the Desert” – GE Reports 

 

Wait a Minute – How Many People Are Still Using XP?

I’m going to admit it. I’m probably the only one ever to do it, but here goes.

I’ve always been a little freaked out by the XP-end-of-support page on Microsoft’s website.

First, there’s the dramatic headline – Windows XP support has ended – looming over the rest of the page’s copy in large black 44 pixel font. The sentence itself is lost amid an expansive, desolate pale-blue background.

It’s…unsettling.  Support is over, done, complete.  There’s no support.

And it doesn’t get better.

Just below the major header is a sentence you can’t possibly ever say to yourself without getting the smallest tinge of sadness:

Why is this happening?

I hope I’m not going too far when I say that the above phrase doesn’t necessarily lend itself to copy used for “software usage.”

It just sounds better suited for, well, moments on considerable frustration. Perhaps in what could be referred to as a “trying time.”

Try this for an exercise: Google “Why is this happening?”. There’s a lot there and not a lot of it is…nice.

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All dramatic embellishment aside, the page effectively states what has been known since XP’s creator made it official in April 2014 – Microsoft no longer supports the 13-year-old operating system.

No more security patches and updates. What Microsoft had been warning for quite some time had come true.

In no uncertain terms, Microsoft gives users two options:

  1. Keep using Windows XP – unprotected
  2. Upgrade

So if you don’t upgrade, at the very least, there’s the security risk — one that some say is being exploited now.  Toby Wolpe, a writer for ZDNet, says in an article that Windows XP is at the center of recent cyber security attacks, “predominantly targeting US banks.”

The only thing more unsettling than the risk is the amount of people that haven’t heeded Microsoft’s warning. Sure, some have, but certainly not all.

About 24% of the World’s PCs are Still Running Windows XP

According to NetMarketShare, 23.87% of all PCs are still running Windows XP.

In other words, nearly a quarter of the computers in the world are still running an operating system that Microsoft slapped end-of-lifed over six months ago.

That’s not all. The reason we know that 23.87% of computers are still running XP is because they are connected to the internet.

digital-map-1442178-mWhat about the computers we don’t know about? What about the PCs sitting behind government firewalls?  An estimated 10% of the several million of government PCs were still running XP by the cut-off date.

There’s a bigger population of systems to factor into the equation as well – non-PCs and embedded systems, which number in the billions.

So what exactly constitutes as a non-PC that runs Windows XP?

Well, it’s something you use every day and as it turns out, like, say, an automated teller machine.  And it’s probably running an outdated version of XP.

95% of All ATMs in the US Still Run XP

The next time you walk up to an automated tell machine think about this: You’re probably giving your bank card and PIN number to a machine that is running an operating system deemed “unprotected” by its very distributor.

According to the latest research, nearly all (that’s 95%) ATMs run XP.

broken-cash-point-16312-mThis is no secret.

Hackers have recently started injecting malware into ATMs to drain the machine’s cash – all without a card or a PIN number.

On Oct. 7, 2014, Kaspersky Labs’ Global Research & Analysis Team released news of a cyber-criminal attack involving malware “that allowed attackers to empty the ATM cash cassettes via direct manipulation.”

There have so far been four reports of hacked ATMs in the US. According to Kaspersky Labs, “the malware affects ATMs from a major ATM manufacturer running Microsoft Windows 32-bit.”

75% of Water Utilities Still Use XP

The simple idea that three-fourths of the nation’s water and wastewater utilities are running an unsupported, over-10-year-old operating system, speaks for itself.

So, let’s not belabor the point. Instead, let’s ask, what’s going on here? What’s keeping water facilities from making the switch?

utility-covers-1394418-mLast May, Matt Wells, general manager of automation software at GE Intelligent Platforms, told Forbes.com that said many utilities have a “if it’s ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to networks.

The machines that run huge utility plants are expensive and have lifespans of 30 years or more, Wells said. New applications can be added without touching the underlying operating system.

Additionally, plant managers worry about taking a system offline for upgrades. The switchover, Wells said, could drive up costs.

But then there’s the security issue. Specifically, the matter that parts of the critical infrastructure are using a system that, left unprotected, is five times more vulnerable to security risks and viruses.

This comes in a time when security firm Kaspersky Lab calls targeted attacks on computer industrial control systems (ICS) the biggest threat to critical national infrastructure.

There’s still a significant amount of businesses, plants, and utilities, running XP. Are you running XP? Have a plan for moving on? Not sure what to do next?

Get in touch with us and let us know if we can help.

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