TechHub: Digital Transformation in Steel, the Industrial Technology Future & Pittsburgh Tech 50

Gerdau Saves Millions Annually, Accelerates Their Digital Transformation

$4.5 million in annual savings with a complete ROI in only 8 months.

Gerdau has enjoyed a long reputation as a process innovator in the steel industry for more than a century.

For a company with more than 35,000 people across 13 countries, the goal of a 20% reduction in maintenance cost was significant. It would not be easy to accomplish, but accomplishing the reduction was critical to the company’s profitability.

When an asset fails, the company loses an average of $12 thousand per hour in downtime.

The transformation Gerdau needed would take them into uncharted territory for many in the steel industry: the digital realm of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Dreaming big pays off

Download the case study to view the roadmap for digital transformation in the steel industry:

Download the Case Study

The Industrial Technology Future

Open software platforms are an increasingly popular trend within the industrial technology sector that is highlighting the important relationship between operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT).

For GE Digital, Predix is the nexus where app engines, digital twins, machine learning and asset performance management meet, said AutomationWorld after a meeting at GE Digital headquarters in San Ramon, Calif.

“Platforms are where tech is going,” said Gytis Barzdukas, head of product management for Predix at GE Digital. “Like Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Alphabet have their platforms in the consumer space, we want to do the same thing in industrial space. That’s why Predix is an open platform with regulated participation. Predix has been developed as a common data layer into which third-party supplier products can plug into.”

Although the focus in the past on Predix has focused on its cloud-based operations, but Barzdukas was quick to point that Predix can run operate at the edge, in the cloud or in hybrid applications.

cloud platform

A diagram of the GE intelligent platform Predix. Image: AutomationWorld

Addressing cybersecurity concerns around the transmission and storage of such data in the cloud, Barzdukas said Predix currently uses public key encryption and is moving toward inclusion of private key capabilities for users who want it. Predix’s public key encryption security operates in addition to the security provided by Amazon Web Services on which Predix’s cloud functions run. Barzdukas added that Predix will also soon be running on Microsoft Azure.

Pittsburgh Tech 50

The Pittsburgh Technology Council’s Tech 50 finalists were announced, 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, and are broken up into the following categories:

  • CEO of the Year
  • Solution Provider of the Year, Consulting and IT Services
  • Culture Leader of the Year
  • Innovator of the Year, Consumer Products
  • Solution Provider of the Year, Innovative Technology

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.

Can a Venti Vanilla Latte Teach Manufacturers about Cloud-Based Technology?

Starbucks Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte with Soy and an extra shot (of espresso, of course) has it’s very own stock keeping unit, commonly known as SKU, at Starbucks.

Think about that for a second.  That specific variation on a caffeinated beverage has it’s very own SKU.  Now think about every possible combination of drink you could make at Starbucks.

Great Coffee Pic, courtesy /

Pictured: A Tasty Permutation

There are almost 15,000 SKUs at the coffee retailer. Whip, no whip, skim, 2%, whole, soy, full-sugar, sugar-free – the permutations seem endless.

Who’s driving this incredible level of product granularity? The customer is, of course.  Consumers are driving the new permutation with extraordinary specificity and demand for instant service and results.

Manufacturing Reality: This Customer Demand-Driven Product Development Has No End in Sight.

Go to BMW’s website and one can build-to-order (BTO) the precise vehicle, including interior leather choices, exterior paint choices, and thousands of other variables and options.

The customers are training the manufacturing sector with this mantra:

Make what I want, when I want it, or I will take my business elsewhere.

This insistence for a one-of-a-kind (or far from “off-the-shelf”) solution requires that new products be brought to market faster than ever.

Cloud-base technologies are making this possible.

At the Accenture Technology Vision conference it was noted, “The change is revolutionary. Industrial companies are becoming customer service companies. Consumer products companies are becoming Internet companies. Energy companies are becoming information companies. And media and entertainment companies are becoming logistics companies.”

The Impacts of Rapid Time-to-Market on Manufacturing

The core objective that lean manufacturing organizations are targeting in 2015 is to cut in half the time-to-market for new products using cloud-based infrastructure.1401832_64678175

This initiative is based on need. Competition will capture new product market share and build brand loyalty simply by getting to the consumer first.

Reduced time-to-market for new product rollouts is a specific technique that is only made when the supply chain (all suppliers and enterprise-wide manufacturing process) can view real-time data worldwide as one accurate source of production information.

Fast time-to-market translates rapidly to faster time-to-revenue; improved cash flow results.

How Manufacturers Can Improve the Customer Experience While Exceeding Expectations

Improved customer experience and satisfaction is being made possible with new cloud-based technology solutions.1009860_34100924

With more than $100B in online sales during this past holiday season, up 13% from 2013, the increasing role of integrated omni-channel solutions is irrefutable. Flexible cloud-based platforms are providing the end-user customer, the warehouse and distribution center, the manufacturer, the supplier of raw materials to the manufacturer, a simplified process to meet the unique challenges of selling and activating connected devices.

Year-round consumers demand a seamless retail experience whether in brick and mortar stores, on-line worldwide, or on their phone. The transaction has to be exact and quick – whether it’s a custom luxury vehicle, personalized smart-phone case, or tall Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino.

Bringing new product to a consumer who maintains a positive experience with a brand will drive dramatic, even exponential revenue growth. A grim diagnosis awaits manufacturers and brands that ignore the customer demand for variety and unique personalized purchasing.

What do you think? Let’s have a conversation! Contact us and see how we can work together to solve these kind of data-driven challenges.

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