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.

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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.

What Pokémon Go Taught Me About Augmented Reality for Industrial Environments

Gone are the days of playing a Game Boy by streetlight on family car trips. Today’s budding gamers will never know the struggle of frantically searching for new AA batteries to play the newest game, just bought with carefully saved allowances and chore money.

In fact, with Nintendo’s newest advancement in gaming technology, mothers everywhere will soon be pushing their kids to “go outside and play videogames.” I am, of course, referring to the gaming company’s newest fad, Pokémon Go, which has taken seasoned and new gamers alike by storm.

The game relies on augmented reality, or AR, a sect of technology that employs the physical world as a base for overlaid, digital images. This contrasts with the related, but distinctly different, virtual reality, or VR. While the latter endeavors to build an entirely new platform on which to present information, AR relies on real-world objects for display surfaces.

The distinction between the two is the difference between the Oculus Rift and Google Glass, two of the leading breakthroughs in VR and AR technology. Microsoft’s Oculus Rift, the vision-encompassing headset, is tasked with creating an alternative universe while Google Glass overlays images onto the user’s surrounding world.Pokemonscreenshot

By taking the interaction out of the computer screen and into reality, AR creates a borderline seamless integration of digital technology into everyday life and basic activities, from cooking and doing taxes to, well, gaming.

Pokémon Go, however, represents more than just a technological advance applicable to those who “gotta catch ‘em all!”

In a recent article from GE Reports, Marco Annunziata, Chief Economist and Executive Director of Global Market Insight at GE, surmises the gaming application’s role concerning how we think about big data and the industry.

“The new app is a turning point, leveraging advances in computing power, big data and geo-location software to change the way we perceive and experience the world,” said Annunziata. “[It’s] literally a game-changer.”

The combination of real-time data collection and analysis is both the reality of current technological innovation, and the future of industry.

While companies have increasingly turned to virtual reality technology like Google Glass to better streamline their processes, AR is still in the formative stage.

The potential, however, is there. Take GE’s example of repairing a jet engine.

To understand the complicated mechanisms, you could lug around several hard copies of field service manuals. But what if you could simply grab your tablet or headset, point its camera at the equipment, and view the internal guts of the machine?

Imagine using a wearable device that guides you throughout the repair process, reacting to your voice prompts while simultaneously analyzing the situation. This is what GE reports it’s like:

“No matter how smart and experienced you are, you will never have all the technical details in your head,” said Annunziata.

With AR, however, that is exactly what’s occurring. Or, rather, innovation is generating this century’s newest thinking cap – one with all the information a technician, analyst, or manager could ever think to ask for.

We can even use VR to digitally reproduce the workflow of an entire factory.

“Using data from existing factories, we can experiment with alternative configurations, simulate the impact of technical failures or changing market conditions like a spike in demand,” said Annunziata. “VR allows us to see how the workflow responds, spot unforeseen problems, identify ways in which the production process can be made safer and more efficient.”

As with technological monuments in the past, the potential for AR is curbed only by the reaches of human ingenuity. During the first stages of its development, augmented and virtual reality have already been used to study agronomics, visualize design processes and increase training efficiency.

Of the many applications for VR and AR, the technology’s ability to collect, analyze and react to information marks it as the newest device in consumer business. From collecting crop data and recreating targeted agricultural areas, to projecting medical diagrams for doctors and patients alike, the digital tool is revolutionizing the ways in which we gather and share information.

Perhaps the most remarkable benefit of the advancement is its remote control capability.

Used in conjunction with powerful software, the connection of devices allows for control far from the device’s physical location. This linking of technology, also known as the Internet of Things, means the time needed to relay information between devices is near negligible. The information is all there. You simply have to ask.

Just remember that the kids (or college students) running around your neighborhood yelling about Squirtles and Bulbasaurs represent merely the tip of the iceberg. As companies embrace the digital age with open arms, technological advances and human ingenuity are creating an industrial evolution. In this brave new world of hologram-creating headsets and apps, the realized and future potential exceeds the current use by those who “wanna be the very best, like no one ever was.”

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