TechHub: Digital Disruption, IoT Expanding Digital Footprints and More

Digital Disruption Transcending Industry Borders

With the first quarter of 2017 coming to a close, it’s clear that the exponential growth within the technology industry is not slowing down.

25,000 new information-related jobs were created in February this year alone, according to Forbes.

As this tech push continues, we’re seeing more and more of the Digital Twin emerge as physical and digital worlds blend together.

The Digital Twin is the computerized companion of physical assets, using data sensors to show real-time data analytics.

The adoption of this trend is becoming increasingly popular as companies realize the countless benefits that the Industrial Internet of Things provides, and Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence become mainstream.

The biggest mistake companies are making right now is assuming these technologies won’t influence their business or impact their industry.

Industry 4.0 is real, and it’s here.

Smart technology is becoming integrated into every facet of life, resulting in customers having the ability to buy anything, anytime, anywhere.

“The convergence of cloud, mobile, social and data have ushered in a new wave of business models that will present unique challenges for various industries,” said Bob Weiler in Forbes.

With this new technology comes new challenges and questions emerging for industry leaders.

To stay ahead of the competition— and win— organizations will need partners who can provide a new level of knowledge and experience within the industry, according to Forbes.

Rethinking business models within critical industry operations is necessary to maximize performance.

The pace of change is accelerating fast. Organizations need to jump on board and embrace emerging digital technologies.

To learn the first three questions to ask in your digital transformation, join our webinar on Thursday, April 6, at 2:30 PM EST: Transform Your Operation: Vision Before Action.

Gray Matter Director of Professional Services John Benitz will demystify the beginning of the digital journey for you using his expertise on various transformations like the GE Brilliant Manufacturing process.

Reserve My Spot

Digital Transformation: Solving Big Manufacturing Problems

The top problems manufacturers are struggling with are visibility into operations, sharing information across one or multiple plants and allowing the right people to access the necessary data.

The solution? Digital transformation of plant operations.

“Digitizing production processes is more about running an efficient business than it is about jumping onto the next technology bandwagon,” said Industry Week.

Automating processes and storing big data on the cloud allows for a single connected platform with production visibility. It allows for a single-set of accurate data and increases the control plant operators need, according to Industry Week.

Instead of having information documented on manual paper processes like Excel spreadsheets, it can be accessed in real-time across one or multiple plants.

Access to product information, inventory, quality data and more increases the productivity and decreases downtime throughout the plant.

Automating the plant is also automating the communication, in turn freeing up people and resources. Instead of having to track down the necessary information and data, workers have instant access to it at a moment’s notice.

Going paperless and automating processes is a critical step within the industry, and lays the groundwork for future innovations.

Gray Matter has a new solution to help transform manual data entry processes into digital insights for manufacturers, utilities and energy companies.

Mobility@Work digitizes information that would have been buried in stacks of paper and puts data in a format that can be used for big picture analysis.

Hauling manifests, inspections, scheduling, incidents, inventory and time sheets are all transformed from piles on someone’s desk to an easy to read digital presentation.

“There are a lot of correlations you can make if you have the data working for you instead of in a stack of paper.” – Kemell Kassim, Gray Matter VP

Download the free white paper to learn how Gray Matter solved the manual data entry problem and helped save a leading energy company nearly $1 million in just the first year.

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IoT Devices Expanding Digital Footprints & Vulnerabilities

Security Week defines IoT devices as convenient.

They allow us to have access to data remotely and process it faster than ever.

However, with the convenience comes risk, and most people aren’t locking down their systems like they should be.

There are more avenues now than ever for cybercriminals to breach systems as more devices are connected and the digital footprint of plants are expanded.

The reality of IoT hacks is eminent. Recent research highlights how PLC controllers can be hacked and potentially taint water supply, according to Security Week. Not enough devices are accounted for, and too much personal and business data is intermingled.

The top recommendations to fix this are to get a clear policy in place, designate accountability and segment your network.

By having clear rules, placing risk and responsibility on people or teams and designating sections of your network help block the threat of cybercriminals. It makes finding an easy path into the network nonexistent.

IoT devices have a lot to offer in the world of operational technology and plant management, the risk just needs to be mitigated and vulnerabilities need to be tracked.

Gray Matter offers a vulnerability assessment for OT networks that creates a security baseline for each asset with an IP address.

In a recent interview with ARC Advisory Group, Gray Matter VP Kemell Kassim detailed recent cyber initiatives and ROI case studies.

Download the Q&A Here

How Big Data Can Help Cut Healthcare Costs

We are in a digital era. It’s likely that very few people would argue otherwise.

Like most industries, the healthcare sector has digitized important records and filed them away in electronic databases– creating a trail of electronic health records (EHR)s for about a decade by now, according to a recent article by CIO.

It should come as no surprise then that healthcare professionals are beginning to see value in leveraging the volumes of patient data.

Data that could be used  for research such as finding environmental triggers in asthma attacks, for example. Or in cancer research.

Dr. Arjun Sharma of the University of Maryland said that cancer screening could be an example of using the massive amounts of data to personalize patient care at the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM) annual meeting. Sharma even described an app that could match patient data to the right demographics and personal risk factors– meaning a detailed analysis that could help to tailor a treatment process for patients.

Electronic health records aren’t only being used in cancer or asthma research, either. The answer to many medical questions may be hidden in the mountains of data.

And according to a report from McKinsey & Company, leveraging this data is going to save the healthcare industry  billions.

While it certainly seems difficult to place a dollar value onto healthcare data, the McKinsey report estimated savings to be between $348 billion and $493 billion.

“Based on early successes in the application of big data analyses, McKinsey estimates savings in healthcare costs between 12% and 17%.  Extrapolated to the $2.9 trillion spent on healthcare in 2013, this translates to between $348 billion and $493 billion in cost reductions,” said Greg Freiherr of the CIO article. “And that is in 2013 dollars.”

Of course, savings of this context might sound a little outlandish at first. Freiherr said that early successes might come first from the genetics databases. Or even in the data being collected by the CDC.

It may not be clear which arm of the healthcare industry will benefit first, or the fastest, but it is known that mountains of healthcare data are being collected every day– data sets that are full of opportunities to make informed decisions and improve patient care.

Here’s a few other notable stories from this week: 

Using Cellular Data to Fix Traffic Nightmares

According to Fortune Magazine, AT&T, UC Berkeley, and California’s state transportation authority are using big data to help alleviate heavy traffic in the the LA area.Big-0

The study maintains that by collecting drivers’ cell phone location data, the future design of highways and transit can be optimized. Of course, those involved in the study swear that the users’ privacy will be protected.

“The idea of using cellular data for mobility is not very new,” admits Alexei Pozdnukhov, assistant professor in UC Berkeley’s Smart Cities program in the article.“What is new . . . is that our approach is much more detailed modeling. We can simulate very detailed scenarios, and answer questions.”

It’s the hope of the researchers that the data will help planners overcome traffic congestion events, which take place about 5,000 to 6,000 times per year, or 50% of traffic delays, on the I-210 in their area.

Food Manufacturing Q&A With GE Digital’s Katie Moore

Katie Moore is an industry marketing manager at GE Digital with a passion for manufacturing.  And according to her LinkedIn profile, Moore believes that brilliant manufacturing is transforming the industry.

“Why? Because machine to machine connections coupled with software analytics will lead to smoother operations, more up-time and better overall visualization in the plant,” said Moore on her LinkedIn page. “The result will be flexible manufacturing lines that can respond quickly to market demands, enabling early adopters to win. Software, data analytics and people will work together in new ways to drive huge incremental value to manufacturers.”

Moore told Food Manufacturing that starting small is the key, however, and much more in a recent Q&A about modernizing plant operations.

The IoT & Our Mobile Future: An Infographic

Millions of devices are being connected to the Internet each month. Some researchers say this number could even grow to the billions by the year 2020, according to Jeff Desjardins of ResourceClips. 

Not to mention the “connected lifestyle” now also means more wearables, smart homes, and connected appliances.

These stats can be rattled off over and over, but there’s something much more satisfying about visualizing the data: Click here to view an infographic that details the Internet of Things and our mobile future.

Media We Link To:

“How Big Data can help save $400 billion in healthcare costs” – CIO 

“The Big Data Revolution in the Healthcare Industry” – McKinsey & Company

“How AT&T is using drivers’ cellular data to help fix California traffic” – Fortune Magazine

“Food Manufacturing Q&A: GE Digital’s Katie Moore Talks Brilliant Factory Technologies” – Food Manufacturing 

Infographic: The internet of things and our mobile future – Resource Clips” 


ICYMI: The Industrial IoT, a New ISA Standard, and More

The IoT Life

It’s no secret that the Internet of Things (IoT) is building momentum in our everyday lives.

In fact, a recent USA Today article posits that in a not-so-distant future we could expect our
fridges to order milk when we are close to running out. Or tell the house to cool the temperature down before we are even in the car, driving home from work. We could even own light-bulbs that would warn us when they should be replaced.

It’s exciting to think of all the possibilities that the IoT brings.Industrial IoT and More

But as security experts warn, what about the potential for increased cyber crime?

Elizabeth Weise of USA Today points out that a thief could use information from our smart devices against us. For instance, criminals could deduce that a week without opening our fridge means that’s a week we’re not home.

The annual conference called Black Hat convened this month– full of hackers and security experts alike, and almost all panels agreed that the “wave of connected devices” poses a threat, according to Weise.

“In about a minute to an hour, I can reliably unlock the door on a car,” said Silvio Cesare, an Australian researcher for a security firm.

“It’s taken almost 20 years for the world to accept that security requires updates. Software pushes to fix problems come to our phones, our laptops and our tablets with sometimes annoying frequency.

We’ve learned the hard way that without updates, the more time that elapses, the greater the likelihood our computer will be hackable.

Americans may not be quite so keen to go around the house updating the software on their rice cookers or sprinkler systems,” said Weise.

ISA101: A Gray Matter Link

This week the ISA published ISA101, a standard the organization says will set standards, recommended practices, and/or technical reports pertaining to human-machine interfaces in manufacturing applications. pencils

The standard was conceived by a group of  thought leaders which included Gray Matter Systems’ Director of Professional Services, John Benitz. Specifically, Benitz collaborated on Clause Six: Display Types.

According to the ISA, the standards, recommended practices, and/or technical reports developed by ISA101 will be directed to those responsible for designing, implementing, using, and/or managing human-machine interfaces in manufacturing applications. Unless noted otherwise in a specific ISA101 document, the documents will apply to all manufacturing industries.

Learn more about ISA101. 

ISA: Realizing Value from the IoT

Speaking of the ISA, Greg Gorbach and Chantal Polsonetti of the ISA publication, InTech Magazine, offered perspective on how the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

And since so much has been said on the Industrial Internet and the IIoT, it’s great that Gorbach and Polsonetti define what the IIot encompasses:

  • Intelligent assets
  • Data communications infrastructure
  • Analytics and applications to interpret and act on the data
  • People

While the authors recognize that those in the industrial space have pursued connectivity to reach operational excellence for some time now, they also assert the potential the IIoT has to transform operations.

“Along with Industrie 4.0, information technology (IT)/operational technology (OT) convergence, and smart manufacturing, the IIoT is cited as the latest means for making manufacturing production more flexible, more cost effective, and more responsive to changes in market demand,” said Gorbach and Polsonetti. “Not surprisingly, numerous market forecasts attempt to quantify the potential inherent in the IIoT, promising that billions of “things” or devices, worth trillions of dollars, will soon be connected.”

Read more from this cover story from InTech Magazine.

PIB 2015 Retrospective: What I Learned on an Island in Ohio

(From the August 17 blog post from Mandy Urey, Director of HR & Operations at Gray Matter Systems)


I have the benefit of seeing so many different sides to our biggest event of the year, the annual user group meeting at Put-in-Bay, OH.

I see the hard work the entire Gray Matter Systems team puts into preparation, which actually starts the week after the event ends for the next year. Then I see the team begin to come even more together as it gets closer to August.

We prepare early to make sure that we offer the best breakout sessions with the most helpful speakers while also making sure that every moment is planned.

While attending the event, I see all the hard work we do to make sure that we deliver on our promise of a top-quality user group meeting that is worth a several-day commitment from Gray Matter Systems, our vendors, and most importantly, our attendees.

But my absolute favorite part has to be the relationships our attendees form because of this event.

I see people from different industries catch the early ferry in a rush to get on the island and back in touch with the people they met last year.

I see an operator from a Houston-based steel company walking through the tabletop trade show, talking excitedly about a new solution with the guy he met last year that works in a water plant just east of Cincinnati. In any other situation, these two people probably would pass each other on the street without thinking twice about each other’s situation but here at our event, they find common ground.

But my absolute favorite part has to be the relationships our attendees form because of this event.

So while I am sure there are many that talk about the experience of the user group with a lot of technical speak, being in HR I am naturally drawn to observe the people. And I see people having fun, forming relationships, displaying their passion, and it is my favorite three days of the year.

Read more from this blog post.

Media We Link To:

“Security experts take aim at the Internet of (unsafe) Things” — USA Today 

“ISA101, Human-Machine Interfaces” — ISA

“Realizing value from the Industrial Internet of Things” — ISA InTech Magazine 

“PIB 2015 Retrsopective: What I Learned on an Island in Ohio” — Mandy Urey, Gray Matter Systems 


ICYMI Automation News Roundup: Smart Sleep, Smart Firefighting, and the Industrial Internet

Photo courtesy Transformer18

Moving Towards the Industrial Internet

According to GE and Accenture Research, executives and leaders across industries are now beginning to see the importance of harnessing the Industrial Internet. Together, they released this infographic detailing the statistics and figures behind it:


To see more of the infographic, click here.

Catching Some ZZZ’s with Big Data

The wearable technology trend is upon us and many fitness trackers also record and analyze your sleep patterns. But according to Jeffrey O’Brien of Fortune Magazinethe CEO of Fullpower Technologies, Phillippe Kahn, has already been leveraging the power of sleep data.


And since the CDC said as many as 70 million Americans have a sleep disorder, it looks like we need to.

The company is behind Jawbone UP and the Nike Fuel wearables, but is now attempting a large, “sleep experiment” — and he’s got the data to do so.

“He thinks that by combining qualitative lab data and quantitative real-world data with machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other analytics technologies, he can unlock the secrets that so many of us walking dead are looking for: a better night’s sleep,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien speculates, if we can predict machine breakage and find power outages quickly, why can’t we also optimize our sleep patterns — allowing for more efficient human bodies?

 “I believe that 15 years from now, if we do this right, we can actually tackle epidemics like obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure, and any number of lifestyle diseases,” says Kahn. “We’re going to help people live longer and better lives.”

3D Printing in Global Manufacturing

Rick Smith of Forbes said this past week that industrial 3D printing has “reached it’s tipping point” and will soon reach mainstream heights to revolutionize the industry and economy.

“In 2014, a PWC survey found that 11% of manufacturing companies had already switched to volume production of 3D printed parts or products.  As costs continue to drop and quality rises, it will be impossible to put this genie back in the bottle,” Smith said.
Photo courtesy Creative Tools

Photo courtesy Creative Tools

Smith goes on to detail seven ways that 3D printing will change business as we know it.

True rapid prototyping, or creating physical replicas of parts or product designs are now truly rapid, unlike past years.  In addition, low volume production eliminates the need for set-up costs. For companies with production runs less than 1,000– this is the revolutionary, cost-effective option.

Among these benefits in Smith’s list are customization, virtual inventories, and product innovation. Click here to read more about the ways 3D printing will disrupt global manufacturing.

Smart Firefighting

Federico Guerrini of Forbes pointed out in a recent article that putting out fires requires time and plenty of information. The more information about that burning building, the more lives they can save.

And according to the National Fire Protection Association, a whopping 1,240,000 fires were reported in the U.S. in 2013 alone.

So what could data do for the way fires are put out?

Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Fire Protection Research Foundation say that data collected and analyzed at the scene could allow firefighters to make better, safer decisions. 
Photo courtesy U.S. Navy Page

Photo courtesy U.S. Navy Page

Information that help the process include the location and health of responders, images from surveillance cameras that show the location of individuals inside the building, and thermal conditions.

Plus, drones have already been used to monitor wildfire incidents– they could also one day be put to use indoors, as well.

Of course, Guerrini warns that access to all this data could harm, overloading or “task-saturating” firefighters in crucial, dangerous moments.

Media We Link To:

GE & Accenture’s Infographic – GE 

7 Ways 3D Printing is Already Disrupting Global Manufacturing – Forbes

Can Big Data Help You Get a Good Night’s Sleep? – Fortune Magazine

 How The Internet Of Things Can Help Firefighters Save Lives – Forbes

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