TechHub: Smart Manufacturing, Pittsburgh Executives Strengthen Local Economy & More

GrayMatter CEO Jim Gillespie on the Industrial IoT Channel Opportunity

GE’s Minds + Machines was in San Francisco last week, where GrayMatter CEO Jim Gillespie spoke to CRN on the big opportunities the Industrial IoT presents to industrial companies of all industries for digital transformation.

Putting the ‘Smart’ in Manufacturing

A variety of terms are used to describe the growing use of connected technologies and data analytics to bring a greater efficiency across the manufacturing industry— smart factory, smart manufacturing, manufacturing 4.0, brilliant factories, industry 4.0 and more.

Consumers are driving the wave of the 4th industrial revolution with their rising expectations of product choice, variation and speed.

In order to thrive in this new environment, manufacturers must master the collection, analysis and communication of data throughout their operations and supply chains to adapt to the new market, according to Industry Week.

Many of the tools and technologies that will play a large role in shaping the new world of manufacturing are already in use, although not necessarily on a large scale yet.

Industry Week lays out some of the most influential examples necessary for digital transformation:

Digital Twin

A digital image that provides a virtual footprint of a physical object or process from design and development through the end of the life cycle. It can be used to anticipate operational problems and improve performance.

3D Printing

Additive manufacturing that uses computer-generated 3D blueprints to enable rapid prototyping, create complex and varied product designs and greatly reduce material wastage.

Augmented Reality Devices

Augmented reality is a live direct or indirect view of a physical environment supplemented by computer sensory data such as images, sound or GPS data. AR devices improve the safety and comfort of shop-floor workers.

Cyber-Physical Systems

Intelligent components with computing and storage capabilities that can monitor factory processes to enable predictive maintenance and minimize plant downtime.

IoT-Enabled Supply Chains

These provide manufacturers with real-time knowledge of product/customer demand signals, helping factories empower their operators by providing them with all of the information necessary to take control of their assets.

Challenges that come along with digital transformation can be significant. The mass amounts of big data that these technologies generate can be of little value if the correct analytic techniques aren’t in place to create informed intelligent decision-making across the enterprise.

Want to know more?

Browse our white papers, case studies and webinars for detailed case studies of how GrayMatter has helped companies of all sizes and industries undergo digital transformations.

Check It Out

Top Executives Strengthen the Region, Contribute to its Economic Success in Pittsburgh

The Smart Business Network is hosting the 2017 Pittsburgh Smart 50 Awards on Thursday, Nov. 9 to honor people that are impacting the community with new ideas and contributing to city sustainability.

The oil and gas industry is rebounding, Harper’s Bazaar named Pittsburgh one of the Best Places to Travel in 2017 and researchers are leading the way with the development of autonomous vehicles, robotics and AI thanks to countless Pittsburgh innovators.

Jim Gillespie, CEO of GrayMatter

GrayMatter is proud to announce that CEO Jim Gillespie made the list for leading a company that is improving performance through technological innovation. GrayMatter helps serve critical industries — power, oil and gas, water and wastewater and manufacturing — that can’t afford to not be operational.

GrayMatter has created a smart sensor drinking fountain with DC Water, using real-time data analytics to monitor water quality and flow levels via the cloud, alerting DC Water when deterioration begins. Learn more about our smart fountains.

About more than just products and services, Smart 50 honors inclusive management styles, engaged corporate cultures and innovative approaches to leadership by savvy leaders who are writing exciting stories for their organizations’ futures.

TechHub: Realizing the Digital Enterprise at ARC Forum, 3D Printing and More

Industry 4.0: Realizing the Digital Enterprise

This week, leaders in the industrial enterprise— such as Gray Matter VP, Kemell Kassim– met together at the 21st Annual ARC Advisory Forum in Orlando, Florida.

The industry forum featured the latest, most innovative technologies in the digitalization process and convergence of operational and informational technology within plants.

More companies are transitioning to Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) products and solutions, and reaping the benefits of real-time data analysis, critical asset management, optimizing performance, minimal downtime and cyber security that they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Cyber security is a hot topic at this year’s ARC Forum—specifically, security for industrial environments.

“There are a lot of great solutions out there, but we saw that customers could use help with their strategy and getting the most out of their cyber investments,” said Kemell. Find out more about our cyber offerings here.

Cyber Predictions for the Industrial Sector in 2017

Cyber threats have become a top priority in the industrial sector.

2017 is shaping up to be the year that legislation cracks down on cyber security as a global effort to secure networks, particularly industry and utility networks, and fight international cyber espionage and crime.

According to Forbes, national borders for data and cyber security regulation will be a hot item on the global political agenda.

With continued innovation from malware developers, it’s predicted to develop into multi-faceted functionality and focus on mobile devices.

That means two things: cybercriminals will be able to bypass two-factor authentication via text message and they will continue to try to develop infectious apps in an effort to monetize stolen credit card data.

Ransomware is expected to be a continued threat within the industrial and corporate worlds, as cyber security is mitigating the huge hits from 2016 with anti-ransomware and decryption tools being made readily available.

3D Printing Unlocks New Potential for Production

Much of the imminent future will be filled with artificial intelligence, big data and development in machine operation and production.

3D Printing

The finished product of a 3-D printed CATA gear. Image credit: GE Reports/Chris New

Included in that world is 3D printing, which plays a dominant role in the future of production, manufacturing and automation.

According to Forbes, 3D printing is the process of creating products of typically plastic or metal by laser technology from a template, building up the product in layers until it’s finished.

In the industry, the potential from this is huge.

It unlocks the ability to create lightweight products such as aircraft, cars and filtration devices, as well as build concrete structures more than 50% faster than conventional methods allow, according to Forbes.

GE Digital is currently exploring this new technology at their Center for Additive Technology Advancement (CATA), which opened in Pittsburgh in April, 2016.

Calling it the “latest twist on manufacturing,” GE is exploring the options it offers through printing parts for jet engines with GE Aviation, as well as valves for GE Oil & Gas.

3D Printing

PolyJet printers can print from as many as four polymers at once. Their combination can produce soft as well as hard parts and hundreds of different colors. Image credit: GE Reports/Chris New

Currently, a huge focus for the company lies within their “industrialization lab,” which allows for GE businesses to bring in their 3D designs and work to find a solution to speed up the process from lab to production, according to GE Reports.

“This is a huge breakthrough for rapid prototyping,” Dave Miller, an engineer at CATA says in GE Reports. “You’d normally spend many thousands of dollars and many weeks to achieve the same results. With this 3D printer you are cutting down costs and also your lead time.”

How 3D Printing is Transforming Industry

Remember that scene in “Back to the Future Part II” where the future McFly family prepares dinner by “hydrating” a tiny, dense circle into an entire pizza? In mere minutes, they’re all happily devouring food from the future.


The hydrated pizza from “Back to the Future Part II”

This appliance might have seemed impossible back in 1989 when the film premiered, but thanks to today’s 3D printing technology, it’s becoming more of a reality.

In fact, a recent Automation World article detailed the future of 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, in the food industry. And yes, “printing” pizza is a possibility.

Enter Foodini, by Natural Machines— a 3D food printer that makes pizza, pasta, breads, and cookies. Does making ravioli from scratch sound daunting? The creators of Natural Machines suggest to simply load the dough and filling and let Foodini print the pasta for you.

“Foodini is the first 3D printer to print all types of real, fresh, nutritious foods, from savory to sweet,” according to the Natural Machines website. “It uses fresh, real ingredients, making the Foodini the first 3D food printer kitchen appliance to contribute to a healthy eating lifestyle.”

While Foodini isn’t available for purchase quite yet, co-founder Lynette Kucsma, envisions a time where every household will own their own 3D food printer, according to Automation World.

Industry experts even say that 3D printing will help food manufacturers, not harm. Laurence Gibbons of Food Manufacture said it will be a huge part of the food and beverage industry — reducing costs and production time. In fact, Gibbons suggests it could even be as valuable to food manufacturers as the Internet.

But 3D printing isn’t limited to the food industry– it’s anything but.

New Balance, the athletic wear brand, announced yesterday their newest running shoe model– one that incorporates a 3D-printed midsole.

Instead of the traditional foam at the bottom of a sneaker, this model will have a lighter, 3D-printed midsole. According to Fast Company, brands like Nike, Adidas, and New Balance have experimented with 3D printing for a few years now. Apparently, shoe companies are now competing to make a lighter shoe, one that can be produced quickly and they’re doing so with the help of 3D printing.

Photo courtesy Creative Tools

Photo courtesy Creative Tools

So if food, running sneakers, and even automobile parts are impacted, where else is 3D printing applicable?

According to Jesse Snyder of Alberta Oil Magazine, the oil and gas industry may be next. Snyder said Apollo-Clad’s laser cladding is a lot like 3D printing oilfield pipes and tools.

“Suspended in the air over the tube is the spray nozzle of a laser-cladding machine, which has been placing successive layers of tungsten carbide to build up three “stabilizer blades” in the center portion of the tool,” said Snyder.

Doug Hamre, the head of research and development at Apollo-Clad, a company that manufactures and repairs downhole tools and mining equipment, said it’s “exactly like 3D printing, but on a larger, industrial scale.”

David Greenfield of Automation World even said back in 2014 that “the ability to print using many different types of materials, and decreasing costs” could make 3D printing a game changer for the global automation market.

At the 2014 IHS Industrial Automation conference, senior principal analyst Alex Chausovksy said that industrial machinery production is an area to be most dramatically impacted by 3D printing technology.

“The increased ability for innovation in design means that companies armed with 3D printing technology can ‘work from function rather than fit,’ allowing changes to be made far more quickly than ever before,” said Greenfield.

According to Chausovksy, we are on the cusp of a new way to produce. However, he warns that another change it could bring to the manufacturing industry is “a restructuring of intellectual property rights.”

“Manufacturers will have to think about IP (intellectual property) in a different way. They may need to move from selling physical parts to selling CAD files for customers to print,” said Chausovksy in the Automation World article.

If this explosion of additive manufacturing or 3D printing can teach us anything, it’s that technology continues to transform industries of all sizes and compositions.

ICYMI: Wearables Where You’re the Network, Google’s New IoT-Friendly Logo, and More

Future Wearables: The Network Could Be You

We already know that wearable technology fans sport the devices on their bodies. But what if one day they became the network themselves?

Stephen Lawson of PC World reported yesterday that researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have begun looking into just that. By using magnetic fields, wearable devices could communicate through a person’s body, rather than around it.ICYMI: Wearables, IoT and More

What’s the upside of this? According to the researchers, their work could lead to devices with smaller batteries and longer battery life– as well as strengthened security. Talk about a private network.

“There’s just one catch: Anything that goes on the network needs to be circular and wrap around a part of the body. So smartwatches or fitness bands could work, but a sensor attached to the user’s chest would need to be attached to a band around the chest,” said Lawson.

In terms of health and safety, the researchers assure the wearer’s health as the magnetic fields are weak– much weaker than an MRI or even the effect of the Earth’s magnetic field on the body.

The COM Effect on Automation

There’s been a major change in embedded systems technology in the past decade, according to David Greenfield of Automation World.

“Aside from motors and actuators, in the world of automation technology nearly everything exists in a box. Inside these boxes are the printed circuit boards (PCBs) that enable all the efficiencies and possibilities of modern manufacturing. Because these boards lie hidden inside boxes, we rarely think about them.”

However, computer-on-module (COM) technology has led to this change and has impacted system customization as well as application possibilities.

In an article recently published by Military Embedded Systems, Charlotte Adams of GE Intelligent Platforms wrote:

“COM modules were developed to insulate computer boards from processor churn. Before their invention, designers of single-board computers had to rethink their layouts each time their processors went out of production. Adopting a new integrated circuit required designers to develop supporting silicon, as well as low-level software and firmware. This setup typically entailed board redesigns with the accompanyingcostsand delays … The beauty of COM Express is that when a processor reaches end-of-life, it can be replaced with a new-generation, plug-in processor module without disturbing the underlying hardware.”

Read more on the COM impact.

Is Google’s New Logo a Fit for the IoT?ICYMI: Wearables and IoT

This week marked the official release of Google’s new logo. Despite mixed reactions, Google said it made sense for the company at this time.

Steven Vaughan-Nichols, however, suggested that the reprise is necessary for adapting to modern times centering around the Internet of Things.

“Google needed a logo that would work on phones, watches, and who know, even your refrigerator,” said Vaughan-Nichols.

The new identity reflects the need for Google to work for us “even on the tiniest of screens.” It’s currently being rolled out now– you can see it on Google Search, Maps, Chrome, Gmail and more.

7 Ways 3D Printing is Surprising Us All

When 3D printing was only first announced (around 30 years ago) it might have seemed more like science fiction than anything. Of course, today, more and more companies and organizations are taking advantage– taking their concepts from the drawing board to the table in little time, according to Joe Anand in a recent article for 3D Print. 


Did you know that the FDA recently approved the first 3D printed drug? It will go on to help adults and children alike who suffer from seizures caused by epilepsy. This approval may make room for even more 3D printed medicine in the future.


Size is not an issue here– The United Arab Emirates National Innovation Committee recently proposed the creation of the first 3D printed office building. It will require a 20-foot tall printer and plenty of creative people on board.


Popular Mechanics first made popular the idea of a car made of (mostly) 3D printed parts. The hybrid vehicle “would be comprised of about 20 pieces, and the body printed from basic white acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS).”

Tools/Parts for the Space Station

Get this: NASA sent the first 3D printer into space back at the beginning of this year. Since then, we’ve found out that astronauts would receive an email from Earth, “throw it into their software and create tools on the spot.”


This idea’s still a little half-baked, pun intended. Since 3D printers typically use material from one cartridge, the printer would need to rely on multiple cartridges at once to make products like dough or cheese. Read more about NASA’s 3D food printer. 

Body Parts

By using 3D scans, bioengineers can actually create a mold of a body part in CAD software. They would then print the pieces using a gel made from 250 million bovine cartilage cells and collagen.

Nano Printing 

On the opposite side of the spectrum, 3D nanoprinters can “remove material rather than solely add it so that it can create anything from more energy efficient and faster electronics to nano-sized security tags to improve the prevention of forgery of currency documents, passports, and priceless works of art,” said Anand.

Media We Link To

“For future wearables the network could be you” – PC World 

“The COM Impact on Automation” – Automation World 

“Google’s new logo is fit for the IoT” – ZD Net

“7 areas in which 3D printing is surprising us all” – 3D Print



Contact GrayMatter

Get in touch with us!