TechHub: Smart Drinking Fountains, Malware Threatening U.S. Power Grid, Manufacturing Profiting from IoT & More

Innovative fountains debut at nationwide water technology summit

A live demo of a new innovative smart sensor water fountain made its debut at ACE 2017, the American Water Works Association’s annual conference and exposition, in Philadelphia, PA.

GrayMatter and DC Water have created a drinking fountain that monitors water quality and flow in real time – giving users more confidence in the water they are drinking and saving money spent on maintenance and testing. The groundbreaking co-innovation project addresses lead levels – one of the most pressing issues in water.

“This project redefines public water consumption, putting people and clean water first,” Jim Gillespie, GrayMatter CEO.

The new smart sensor drinking fountain by GrayMatter & DC Water.

The new tech fountains have sensors that use real-time data and analytics to monitor both water quality and flow levels, sending that information to the cloud and back, alerting when water quality measurements begin to deteriorate.

Built with a special emphasis on lead in mind, the fountain will be used initially in schools, hospitals, day-cares and other similar institutions, according to George Hawkins, DC Water CEO and General Manager.

The co-innovation project is just the beginning of many ways private sector innovation and independent operations are joining forces to make water operations more efficient, at a lower cost. The fountains are set to be used in public places this fall, including schools.

Learn more about GrayMatter and DC Water innovations at GrayMatter’s annual conference, Transform 2017 held August 1-3 in Put-in-Bay, Ohio.

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Cyber experts identify malware that could disrupt U.S. power grid

The world was awaken to the dangerous potential of utility hacks in December when one-fifth of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, was without power due to a malicious malware that infiltrated their power grid.

Now dubbed CrashOverride, the same malware that left 225,000 without power in Ukraine, is said to have the ability to be modified and corrupt U.S. power grids as well, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“U.S. utilities have been enhancing their cybersecurity, but attacker tools like this one pose a very real risk to reliable operation of power systems,” said Michael Assante, who worked at Idaho National Labs and is former chief security officer of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, where he oversaw the rollout of industry cybersecurity standards.

cyber

The most concerning — and dangerous — components of CrashOverride are the ability to manipulate the settings on electric power control systems, as well as a “wiper” component that erases the software on the computer system that controls the circuit breakers.

This lets the malware scan for critical components that operate and open circuit breakers, creating a sustained power outage, and then lock the operator out of their system.

Although it has yet to demonstrate the level of complexity needed, according to the Tribune, the malware can theoretically be modified to target other industrial control utilities such as water and gas.

To get a better understanding of your operational technology control network, download our cyber guide, which walks you through the first steps in knowing what’s on your network and has specific advice about the assessment process from our top cyber security consultants.

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GE Digital urges partners to seek opportunities in the Industrial Internet of Things

GE has been one of the largest brands in selling appliances, aviation systems, energy controls, and industrial solutions for years, it’s no secret.

But in 2015, the company announced a new business – GE Digital – marking an effort to bring together its software and IT capabilities, according to CRN.

“Our goal is to co-innovate with the ecosystem,” said Kevin Ichhpurani, executive vice president of global ecosystem and channels and corporate officer at GE Digital.

As GE continues to reinvent itself, according to CRN, strong partnerships are a key element in order to innovate the industrial IoT.

“I think there’s a ton of opportunities around digital transformation overall,” said Jim Gillespie, CEO of GrayMatter. “But inside of that GE has many more opportunities around Brilliant Manufacturing, asset performance managements, field service transformation and cyber security. There’s just a lot of great areas for partners.”

Read more…

Study finds manufacturers are profiting from the IoT

MPI just released its 2017 study results on the Internet of Things with terrific news for the manufacturing industry, according to Industry Week.

The push to jump on the train to digitization or get left behind has been dramatic in recent years, and there’s been a sharp increase in awareness and investment in IoT technology as a result.

Now the numbers are in to prove how switching to IoT enabled products and applications are positively affecting the manufacturing industry for the better:

  • 72% report increased productivity
  • 69% report increased profitability
  • 65% report increased profitability from sales of IoT-enabled products (e.g., embedded intelligence)

GrayMatter co-founders Jim Gillespie & Carson Drake at the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs with top industry thought leaders.

Transforming operations is about connecting your equipment in the right way to eventually create a digital twin to mirror your physical operation and improve productivity. 

The biggest problem as to why manufacturers still aren’t jumping onboard is not knowing where to start.

Download our eBook to see how we’ve helped some of the biggest companies in the world overcome these obstacles and learn how to work smarter as a result:

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TechHub: Industrial cybersecurity, $1 billion fund for advanced manufacturing & mobilizing the plant floor

Market Analysis Report Evaluates Industrial Cyber Security

Cyber security has become a globally recognized issue of national security for industrial companies in light of increased attacks on water and power utilities.

Complex ransomware attacks are becoming more common among industrial companies, resulting in one of the top annual cyber conferences promoting it as a focus.

The RSA 2017 Conference started off with a group of researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a planned water utility hack, demonstrating how much damage a hacker can do by shutting down valves, adjust chlorine levels and falsify readings.

industrial hacks RSA

The RSA 2017 Conference, which featured a live industrial utility hack demonstration.

ARC Advisory Group released a market analysis report that evaluates the current market, as well as a five year market and technology forecast, for industrial cyber security.

Even after a heavy push for protection in recent years, many industrial companies are still struggling to maintain plant security despite having implemented cyber security technologies for protection.

The report cites a lack of resources and lack of cyber security expertise as the key reasons for the insecurity, and that the IT companies the plants use lack a deep understanding of control systems for plant operation.

Industrial companies need to implement the expertise of operational technology professionals that can lock down exposed parts of the network.

Download the GrayMatter Cyber Security Guide for Operational Technology to get a comprehensive understanding of security in the OT world including top vulnerabilities.

The guide walks you through the first steps in knowing what’s on your network and has specific advice about the assessment process from our top cyber security consultants.

Download the Guide

Mobilizing the Plant Floor: Industry 4.0

As we get deeper into the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, plants are becoming digitized and integrated with the Internet of Things (IoT) for faster, better results.

Junot Systems, a specialist provider of integration solutions for industrial companies, released a case study detailing a real customer success story of mobilizing their plant floor for one of the world’s largest producers of printing inks and pigments.

The plant was facing problems such as lacking an audit trail to identify changes to material batches, loose user procedures for necessary validations, lack of mobility on the plant floor and unnecessary manual aspects of order processing.

By implementing NLINK®, Junot Systems’ quick install product suite and SAP certified interfaces, plant floor technicians were given the ability to process orders away from the HMI stations using mobile tablets with each step validated and logged for full traceability.

For a more in-depth look into the validation process in SAP that NLINK® provides, download the case study:

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$1 Billion Fund to Create Advanced U.S. Manufacturing Jobs

80-percent of U.S. manufacturers are facing a shortage of qualified applicants for skilled production jobs, with a decline in employment within computer and electronic manufacturing since 2007.

Apple CEO Tim Cook. Source: TechCrunch (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

There is an extreme need to close the skills gap within the manufacturing industry, which makes up nine-percent of the U.S. workforce.

Apple CEO Tim Cook announced this week that the company has formed a $1 billion fund to promote advanced manufacturing jobs in the U.S., according to TechCrunch.

The first investments will be announced later this month, according to Cook, leaving the specific use for the funds a mystery for now.

 

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.

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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” 

 

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