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.

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.

BTTF

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.

Contact GrayMatter

Get in touch with us!