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

Trout Fishing and Automation: They Have More in Common Than You Think

The first thing one notices about trout fishing in western Pennsylvania on a clear April morning is the stunning, unnerving calm. The quiet that blankets the shores of the state’s waterways right around 5 a.m. is so still and peaceful it’s nearly sacred.

It’s a serenity that commands respect. It forces grown men to creep along its pathways like children sneaking downstairs on Christmas morning. If they talk, they only do so in a whisper. If they break the silence by snapping a twig, they twist up their faces in embarrassment and apologize profusely but quietly.

There’s a lot of art in fishing—especially fly-fishing—but there’s a fair amount of science involved too.

Knowing the best time of day and what bait to use can mean the difference between winning and losing.

While it might sound simplistic, that’s pretty much the way applying automation and technology to oil and gas operations works. The more data an operator collects on its surroundings and the better it knows the environment, the better chance it has of being successful.

Streaming Data

In the early morning, just after a light rain, as the sky clears and the sun comes out, drops of water collect on leaves and begin to pool. The weight of the water pulls the leaf down and a trickle of water spills out into the river. A small amount of water joins the flow and becomes part of one large stream.

The same goes for the information that unknowingly streams into our networks on a daily basis. Piece by piece, information is collected from offshore platforms and onshore oil wells and transmitted via microprocessor-controlled electronic devices called remote telemetry units. One stream means one thing and came from a specific place, making it usable when operators collect it and learn from it.

HMI/SCADA

Watching a river pass by is not unlike how operators learn about their processes through a SCADA system. Operators interact with the SCADA system by using a human machine interface (HMI), which can be something as simple as a computer screen that displays the SCADA interface.

Automation in Trout fishingThe data coming into the SCADA system can be as simple as a picture of a tank filling with an animation that represents a certain capacity. When the tank in the field is half full, an animation of the tank onscreen rises to 50%.

In addition to visual cues, the SCADA system also provides alarms that indicate if there’s a problem. There also is the “control” aspect, which refers to the operator’s ability to remotely operate the equipment.

Historical Data

What if every piece of information needed to catch every fish on the first cast could be captured?

Today’s powerful historian software does just that. It logs data continuously without fail, collecting thousands of pieces of data and locking them away. For oil and gas companies, this means being able to take years of data from their operations and capturing them into a robust, never-fail locker.

Once those data are captured, they can be analyzed for trends to make better decisions. These practices, while grossly oversimplified, are how companies use Big Data to make things better. Companies analyze years and years of operational data and search for commonalities and trends that will provide insight into how they can improve in some areas or discover deficiencies in others.

A Cybersecurity Strategy

What if fishing wasn’t just a hobby for you? What if your favorite fishing hole was actually the sole source of food for your family, and you needed to protect it at all costs? What if you could segment your part of the river from the rest of the world and cloak it in such a way that no one else could see it?

In the wake of high-profile attacks on big businesses, oil and gas companies across the country are getting serious about implementing a cybersecurity strategy. The Industrial Control System Cyber Emergency Response Team, or ICS-CERT, recommends a defense-in-depth approach involving specific countermeasures to create an aggregated security posture. It can help defend against cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities that affect an industrial control system.

That technology exists now, and oil and gas companies are using it to hide critical parts of their network. These cybersecurity solutions can sit on a network and cloak high-value assets, servers and endpoints to safeguard against cyber breaches.

Standard Operating Procedures

Standard operating procedures are beginning to change in a very real way. The practice of locking down standard operating procedures makes a lot of sense for a number of reasons.

First, it ensures all operators respond to specific situations in a certain predetermined way. Next, it captures the best practices of the best operators before they are lost to retirement. Finally, it ensures that the critical steps required to complete certain activities, some of which may be regulated by government agencies, are followed strictly and documented diligently.

While the variables involved with fishing are part of the game, for the oil and gas industry, technology has become quite adept at weeding out variability in such a way that it becomes a nonfactor. The technology exists today to predict outcomes with great certainty, forecast asset failure accurately and connect people with real-time data so they make informed decisions.

This post originally appeared online for Hart Energy’s E&P Magazine.

How’s the Weather: A Test-Bed for Technology

Let’s talk weather. It might be one of the most basic exchanges of small talk, but recently it’s become even more.

According to Jamie Carter of TechRadar, it’s becoming a test-bed for modern technology such as big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), and even cloud storage.

The data mostly comes from “weather stations, observation systems at airports, meteorological satellites, ocean buoys, ships, aircraft and – most recently – personal weather stations in people’s homes that are connected to the internet.”

Carter said  that if crowd-sourcing weather data is on the rise, (as are sensor-packed smartphones) this can help meet the demand for hyper-local weather data.

With mobile devices and other IoT devices, even the average smartphone owner might be able to give the weather industry more real-time data that can be used to create more sophisticated weather prediction models.Weather-Data

Who doesn’t want a more accurate look into the weather? You can’t predict the nastiest of extreme weather patterns, but we might be getting closer.

The IoT even offers different, cheaper ways to collect weather observations.

“Existing observation networks are limited in number but highly calibrated, because they’re expensive to run and operate,” said Charles Ewen, chief information officer at the Met Office in the TechRadar article. “However, the IoT offers a high density of observations of an unknown quality.”

And analyzing weather data isn’t just convenient for knowing when to wear raincoat. Per Nyberg of InformationWeek said that “early, granular, and accurate” weather reports could benefit everyone from healthcare providers to retailers.

“Granular and early forecasts can create business opportunities — for example, alerting a brewery to supply distributors and points-of-sale greater inventory in anticipation of an unusually warm spring weekend in the Northeast,” said Nyberg. “Or suppose a blizzard is due to hit Atlanta on Black Friday — with enough notice, retailers could adjust their plans.” 

Per Nyberg, InformationWeek

Of course, Carter notes that while predicting weather has always been about clouds, it’s now also about the cloud. He said the cable TV company, The Weather Channel, used about 13 data centers and generated a whopping four terabytes of data an hour. But by using the cloud, The Weather Channel is now processing a predictions “in milliseconds, and every 15 minutes rather than once per hour.”

Here’s a few other stories from this week worth noting. 

Should Banks Prepare for the IoT?

A recent report from Deloitte has shown some major potential for the IoT in both the retail banking and capital markets. According to Christopher O. Hernaes of TechCrunch, because banks rely on data for risk management and credit analysis.

“In addition to adding new data sources to credit scores, sensor technology could revolutionize loan collateral tracking and balance sheet reporting for both SMEs and corporate clients,” said Hernaes. “Imagine the possibilities for real-time monitoring of inventory or livestock for manufacturing and agriculture segments. This would potentially enable banks to perform automated and near real-time balance sheet reporting.” 

In addition to banking, we’re already seeing “smart” payments like with Apple Pay. MasterCard is apparently even allowing payments through the fitness wearable, Jawbone.

Continue reading this post from TechCrunch.

4 Network Requirements for the IoT

According to Ben Rossi of Information Age, the hype over the Internet of Things is full-speed and not going to slow down any time soon.

Rossi said there are four important network requirements for enabling the IoT before taking advantage of the transformations it has to offer:

  • Broadening the horizons of the network’s visibility
  • Determining your IoT fit
  • Smarter feedback for smarter decisions
  • Defending “dumb devices”

Read more about these here.

Know Thy Enemy

A recent article by Edward Jones of Entrepreneur suggested a new kind of cyber security strategy– hire a hacker.

If this sounds unconventional, you’re not alone. If hackers cause so much damage, why would anyone want to hire them?

Jones said there are multiple reasons, however, to consider hiring ethical hackers:

  • Everyone’s under cyber-attack
  • Ethical hackers spot vulnerabilities
  • Can be worth the money in the end

Read more about ethical hackers.

Media We Link To:

“Cloud on Clouds: How Weather Data is a Test-Bed For New Tech” – TechRadar

“3 Ways Big Data Supercomputing Change Weather Forecasting” – InformationWeek

“Banks Should Prepare For the Internet of Things” – TechCrunch 

“4 network requirements to enable the Internet of Things” – Information Age

“Know Thy Enemy, Hire a Hacker” – Entrepreneur

How Cincinnati MSD is Pushing the Envelope with Technology

Here’s the first thing you should know about the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati: The people working there are serious about technology.

They have a long history of using cutting edge software to protect public health and the environment, and provide sustainable water reclamation and watershed management. (That’s part of their mission, by the way).

Now the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, more commonly known as Cincinnati MSD, is taking it a step further. The only difference is this work isn’t just about improving things for the people of Cincinnati – it’s also about creating a solution that can be replicated to solve problems across the country.

In a September 9 press release, Cincinnati MSD announced its intentions to use new technology to address the city’s wet-weather challenges.  With the help of Gray Matter Systems, Cincinnati MSD will use technology from GE Intelligent Platforms to optimize its wet-weather facilities, equipment and operations, and reduce overflows.

Cincinnati will be able to capture data on excess water produced during periods of heavy rainfall or snowmelt, which can exceed the capacity of the sewer system or treatment plant and result in the discharge of pollutants into nearby streams, rivers or other bodies of water.

Cincinnati prides itself on being at the forefront of using technology to make things better for the community, said Tony Parrott, Director of Water and Sewers.

Embracing new technology to solve problems — like those that arise from Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO) — is the norm for Cincinnati.

[su_box title=”Go In-Depth”]Interested in learning more about Combined Sewer Overflows? Click here.[/su_box]

The exciting part, the thing Parrott calls “powerful,” is how the solutions can be replicated across the country.

“Not only does this enable us to meet our own needs, there’s something to be said about developing new capabilities and solutions to improve water quality that can be leveraged by other CSO communities across the country,” Parrott said. “That’s powerful stuff — we’re not only solving problems here with technology, but nationally as well as others implement similar platforms.”

Powerful Stuff for the People of Cincinnati

First, look at using technology versus doing things the old way.

The traditional way (one of them, anyway) of reducing overflows with wet weather operations is to add infrastructure — literally shoveling dirt, pouring concrete, building bigger pipes, adding storage tanks, etc.

“That’s a significant cost,” Parrott said in the press release. “Wet-weather operational optimization will complement our capital program, allowing us to accelerate water quality improvements and reduce costs with technology.”

If Cincinnati optimizes wet-weather operations using technology, it doesn’t have as many new assets to own and maintain in the future.

“If we’re able to successfully do this — reduce overflows at costs lower than just relying on capital project — then imagine the cost savings for the community and ultimately across the entire wastewater industry,” Parrott said in the press release.

Powerful Tools for Compliance

In addition creating water quality standards, The Clean Water Act of 1972 found the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) outlining the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters across the country.

Among other things, The Clean Water Act made cities responsible for reducing — or in some cases completely stopping — the release of untreated wastewater into the environment through combined sewer overflows and sanitary sewer overflows.

These releases are in no way an everyday occurrence. The EPA says that, most of the time, combined sewer systems transport wastewater to the sewage treatment plant, where it’s treated and released.

The small percentage of the time in which it becomes a problem is during significant rain events or heavy snowmelt and the system is overwhelmed.

Cincinnati MSD will use GE Industrial Automation Solutions to capture data on excess water produced during periods of heavy rainfall or snowmelt. The City will use advanced analytics to find the best ways for manage flows through the system, resulting in the reduction of discharge of pollutants into nearby streams, rivers or other bodies of water.

Powerful Solutions for the Country

The true power of the work Cincinatti MSD is doing is that it’s repeatable, a fact that Parrott tacks onto every sentence in the press release.

The work Cincinnati is doing — addressing an issue with technology in a way that uses existing infrastructure — could do a lot of good for the EPA-estimated 772 CSO communities across the nation.

Cincinnati’s enthusiasm for embracing technology is an indicator of what’s happening in the community as a whole.

There’s always been a passion in the nation’s public sector to improve the lives of the people in the community. At the end of the day, the people that treat wastewater and make drinking water safe have the most important goal in mind: the health and safety of the public.

The only difference is technology now exists that enables people in water/wastewater to make this happen in ways previously thought impossible.

Are you are pushing the envelope with technology? What does this mean to you?

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