TechHub: The Year of Cyber Disasters, Manufacturing Technology Orders Back on Track & More

Ending 2017 Strong: Manufacturing Technology Orders Back on Track

Manufacturing technology orders in September continued their upward trend, ending the third quarter on a strong note, according to Industry Week.

The rise in orders in September surprised some analysts, who had expected orders to remain weak until December.

“Manufacturers are concerned about Washington’s impact on economic growth and pace of technological change, as well as the general evolution in technology. It is necessary for companies to invest in current technologies to stay competitive, but they’re doing so at a moderate pace,” said Doug Woods, President of the Association for Manufacturing Technology.

Regionally, the North Central West, Southeast and Northeast regions as reported by USMTO benefited from strong activity in contract machining shops, forging and stamping, automotive, and consumer electronics. Notably, orders from the consumer electronics and computers sector were up 132% nationally.

The key leading indicators for manufacturing technology are positive, leading analysts to believe there will be an acceleration in orders at the close of 2017.

The Year of Cyber Security Disasters

2017 was the year of industrial cyber attacks.

Ransomware crippled hospitals in the U.K., hit U.S. pharmaceutical company Merck, infiltrated Russian oil giant Rosnoft, shut down Ukrainian power grids and more.

Special Agent Keith Mularski, Unit Chief of the FBI Cyber Initiative & Resource Fusion Unit, spoke at GrayMatter’s annual conference on industrial cyber security.

Operational technology is at a risk in the digital age now more than ever before.

According to Gartner, “the number one issue in vulnerability management is that organizations are not prioritizing their patching and mitigating controls, nor are they mitigating the exploitation of commonly targeted vulnerabilities.”

Companies are struggling to find the common ground between “what can I fix” and “what will make the biggest difference in the time and resources I have.”

The answer: a risk-based approach.

CyberX’s ICS Attack Vector Prediction technology combines a deep understanding of industrial protocols, devices and applications with:

  • ICS-specific asset discovery
  • Continuous real-time monitoring and incident forensics
  • Risk and vulnerability management
  • Threat intelligence

“It helps business leaders and OT personnel quickly understand the top threats to their most critical industrial assets, and how to most efficiently reduce their top risks.”

This unique approach reduces complexity by addressing all four requirements of Gartner’s Adaptive Security architecture — Prediction, Prevention, Detection and Response — in a single, holistic platform.

“Our customers are often concerned about what they don’t know. CyberX’s Attack Vector Prediction technology allows them to predict and visualize scenarios for real-time planning of operational cyber strategy,” said Jim Gillespie, CEO of GrayMatter.

Learn more about implementing a predictive cyber approach

About CyberX

CyberX provides the most widely-deployed industrial cybersecurity platform for continuously reducing ICS risk. Supporting all OT vendors and seamlessly integrating with existing IT security tools, CyberX’s platform combines a deep understanding of industrial protocols, devices, and applications with ICS-specific asset discovery, continuous real-time monitoring and incident forensics, risk and vulnerability management, and threat intelligence.

GrayMatter VP on OT Cyber Security at 2017 ARC Industry Forum

GrayMatter VP Kemell Kassim speaks to Sid Snitkin, VP of Enterprise Advisory Services of ARC Advisory Group, during the 2017 ARC Industry Forum in Orlando, FL.


TechHub: $5 Billion Investment in U.S. Manufacturing, IoT in Water & More

Goldman Sachs, China Team Up to Invest $5 Billion in U.S.Manufacturing

Goldman Sachs and China Investment Corporation (CIC) have announced the formation of a new partnership that will create a $5 billion fund named the China-US Industrial Cooperation Partnership, aimed at investing in U.S. manufacturing, according to the Business Review USA.

Tu Guangshao, Vice Chairman and President of CIC.

The fund will invest into businesses that have or can develop a connection with China, designed to promote market access for U.S. firms in China, in addition to improving the trade balance between the two countries.

“CIC has invested in the US for ten years and is committed to be both an investor and facilitator to develop a stronger China-US investment relationship,” said Tu Guangshao, Vice Chairman and President of CIC.

The fund will create a number of opportunities for American companies to export their products to the expansive Chinese market, with Goldman Sachs acting as the sponsor and investment manager of the fund.

Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs said, “The Cooperation Fund will increase Chinese investment in the United States, creating more opportunities for American workers and contributing to China’s economic transition and growth.”

Testing the IoT Waters

Originally Published in CRN

Solution provider GrayMatter is navigating the turbulent IoT waters, using its technical expertise and operational technology background to successfully deploy connected drinking fountains in public places like schools.

“We did a connected smart water fountain [with DC Water] – people think of that as a [classic] IoT application,” GrayMatter CEO James Gillespie told CRN. “That’s a good example because it combines a whole bunch of innovation.”

The Pittsburgh-based GE partner worked with the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority to create drinking fountains that monitor water quality and flow in real-time, which gives users more confidence in the water they are drinking while saving money spent on maintenance and testing.

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The smart drinking fountains, which will initially be installed in hospitals, daycare centers and schools, are equipped with sensors that use real-time data and analytics to monitor water quality and flow levels. The sensors then send that data to the cloud and back with alerts if water quality measurements begin to deteriorate.

Gillespie said the flow and water quality sensors give an accurate indicator of when the lead filter should be changed compared to traditional filters — like refrigerator filters — that measure flow only.

If water quality begins to deteriorate, alerts are sent by text or email to water managers, while… (Read More).

Data Management Tool Saves Big

A control system that’s responsible for servicing over 150,000 people has multiple applications, each with its own data source, and requires a tedious, time-consuming process of manually sifting through paper logbooks and binder after binder of printed reports when gaps exist in data sets.

This wastes time, money and causes a major headache for plant employees.

The City of Barrie was determined to fix this, saving 60 to 70-percent of the time previously used as a result of digital transformation.

By implementing a new data management tool, e.RIS, it allowed for:

  • Data commenting
  • Workflow for report approvals
  • Tag merge
  • Lab data integration and electronic logbooks

Learn more about e.RIS and catch up on other success stories:

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Q&A: GrayMatter CEO Jim Gillespie on the Industrial IoT Opportunity

GrayMatter CEO Jim Gillespie sits down with CRN for a Q&A during GE’s Minds + Machines 2017 conference in San Francisco, detailing rapidly evolving interest in the Internet of Things over the past year and expected trends for 2018 among industrial customers.

Originally published in CRN

Q: Can you talk about GrayMatter, who you guys are?

GrayMatter’s goal is to transform operations and empower people. We work with some of the biggest companies in the world to transform their operations and help every operator be empowered to act like the best one.

We help them connect their critical assets and work smarter to make better decisions. We see them and think about helping them play Moneyball with their digital assets. A lot of our focus is on manufacturing, digital utilities, connected field services and with the industrial IoT.

Q: Talk about industrial IoT, what kind of services are you guys offering around that area?

The industrial IoT is a really big opportunity. We help people with assessments, we help people sort through what the strategies and opportunities can be and we look into putting a plan together, a strategy, quick proofs of concept and really start to generate information to make those assets better.

We help people identify assets that are breaking before they’re broke, alerting the field service team to get the right person with the right skill set with the right parts out to those assets at the right time.

Q: Looking forward to 2018, what kind of trends should we look out for around the industrial IoT space?

We’re really excited about it. At the main stage of Minds and Machines here today, they talked about how 85-percent of the clients know they need digital transformation, and only about 13-percent of the people are acting.

So there’s a huge opportunity to close the gap between aspirations and action. We get together with the clients, do a lot of co-innovation to solve through these issues and layout a road map, really helping them get to their aspirations around digital.

Another trend is this whole new world of connecting the products out there and closing the loop with the field service transformation. You could transform the service first and then connect the products, or vice versa – that wasn’t really possible five years ago, so the art of the possible is a trend.

Q: What kind of language do industrial customers use when they talk about IoT? Do they actually say ‘the Internet of Things?’

I think that lingo is interesting because we’ve done edge connectivity for 25 years but that term has only recently come into the OT space.

That was a networking term that is now used for OT connectivity.

We do see clients using industrial IoT and IoT lingo – some people in manufacturing think of the term ‘Industry 4.0’ as sort of a way to think about it.

In the utility space, people are thinking of digital utilities.

“We help them connect their critical assets and work smarter to make better decisions. We see them and think about helping them play Moneyball with their digital assets.”


Q: What’s causing the digital gap? What challenges are industrial customers facing?

I think the gap is made up of a lot of subparts – a skill gap, knowledge gap, people, culture, execution – it’s sort of a perfect storm of all those things.

We have a lot of manufacturing clients, so there’s a lot of legacy challenges that came before them – what’s legacy-installed, and getting it up into that digital world and integrating the supply chain. So an overall view of the supply chain is a big deal. And our second biggest client is digital utilities – we think a lot of wastewater and power are working through that as well.

Q: How are you first bringing up the discussion around IoT projects with industrial customers?

I think there’s two ways – when we work with someone like DC Water, we’re really a co-innovation partner with them, so if you asked them they’d say they come to us when they’re looking to solve a problem they couldn’t solve before, and they come to us to find out the art of the possible.

The other way is we think about what are the outcomes the customers are looking for, and what’s the best way to achieve those outcomes.

Q: What’s one use case where you’ve successfully deployed an IoT solution?

We did a connected smart water fountain [with DC Water in Washington, D.C.] – people think of that as an IoT application. That’s a good example because it combines a whole bunch of innovation. It’s IoT and the value of the network, so when you have multiple drops on the network you can now get like a Google map picture of the water quality instead of the traffic with blue, yellow and red signifying how the water quality is in different points of consumption.

At the same time, we’ve made the devices intelligent so they check their own quality, and they try to clean themselves and let someone know if they need help being cleaned. It’s kind of a confluence of all these things that weren’t possible coming together.

Q: What’s another use case where you’re working with GE to help a customer transform operations?

We’re working with GE Current – it’s energy savings combined with IoT, so the lights are intelligent.

The byproduct is the lights can tell you if your real estate is being used as efficiently as it could be, so it’s almost the practices we have in manufacturing of efficiency, but applied to conference rooms or gathering spaces at a university, or bank branches wondering about the pattern usages of customers – so we get new applications from IoT.

Energy savings pays for it but then you have the cool additional efficiencies

“85-percent of the clients know they need digital transformation, and only about 13-percent of the people are acting.”


Q: What kind of demand are you seeing around edge computing and analytics in the industrial market?

Edge is almost a continuum of possibilities, from server with tons of edge computing power and storage, down to a really simple not expensive lower intelligence to just bridge the data up to the cloud, so it depends on how much latency you can handle in an application, how much local intelligence needs to go on. For a manufacturing plant, it’s very important to close the loop locally, for other applications like lighting going up to the cloud, you don’t need as much at the edge.

It’s a conversation around the outcomes, so you really have to understand the right questions to ask and the right way to design a solution. We would weigh in with the client and design something that meets the outcomes they’re looking for. Almost everything has edge computing, and then it depends where the analytics need to happen, and there’s some sort of connectivity or either local buffering or on ramp to the cloud.

Q: What kind of security services do industrial customers want for their industrial control system and assets?

The two main areas of interest that clients are driving for us are an easier, better way to segment the networks, and protect the things that can’t be upgraded, so there’s a whole area around how do we harden, temper and better segment the industrial control systems.

And then number two is almost an ADT monitoring approach, how can I have something watch over those assets and keep a software watch on what’s going on, so segmentation and monitoring are two places where we’re seeing more interest than anywhere else. A third thing is customers might not know what they have or how vulnerable they are and want it assessed. We still find that here in 2017, it’s not surprising to us to find that.

Q: What kind of priority level are customers giving cyber security and IoT in their budgets?

There’s operational parameters, like downtime, there’s formulation theft possible, and it could be expensive to repair assets if they’re damaged by a bad actor.

I would say we’re starting to see a trend, more people are prioritizing it as strategy level now, and how do we go from where we are to where we’d like to be. We’re seeing more conversations at a strategic level, and that’s a high-level conversation we’re having much more frequently in 2017 than we did last year, and we’re super pleased with it.

Innovation on the Brain

Gray Matter Systems celebrates 25 years of technology and software with a dedicated person-to-person approach.

By Tim Hayes, TEQ Magazine

Pittsburgh’s favorite neighbor, the late Fred Rogers, once said, “The thing I remember best about successful people I’ve met all through the years is their obvious delight in what they’re doing…and they love it in front of others.”

It may sound cliche, and even a little obvious, but people make the real difference. Mister Rogers said so. And with the right tools, people can make good organization run even better– all the way to great. Respecting their intelligence and enthusiasm provides a key.

That’s the impetus behind the success of Gray Matter Systems, based in Warrendale, which offers technology, innovative software, and a dedicated person-to-person approach to help some of the world’s leading manufacturers and critical infrastructure operators enhance their performance in meaningful measure.

“Our approach has always been how to control big data that transforms operations, while empowering people,” said Gray Matter Systems CEO Jim Gillespie.

Gray Matter Systems understands that using technology to run a successful operation is more than just software and products. It’s also about people: people who understand problems, can architect solutions within a budget, deliver benefit, and work with plant operators to adopt the solution.

“Everyone gets excited today about the ‘Internet of Things’ but we’ve been working with this approach for 25 years,” Gillespie said. “The technology of today enables it more easily and cost-effectively than ever, through smartphones and other devices.”

Gray Matter Systems creates a digital “twin” for the operational side of major manufacturers, a virtual operation running in parallel with the actual physical plant. Using this tool, Gray Matter Systems steers its customers to understand, identify, and address issues and opportunities in real time, thereby creating ROI that may not have been captured before.

One example is Erie-based GE Transportation, where Gray Matter Systems supports the “Brilliant Factory” program, allowing GE people to make better decisions about how it runs its operations hour-by-hour, day-by-day.

“By designing and implementing a real-time replica for GE Transportation, one where they can make decisions in real time without needing to interrupt or impact their actual manufacturing process, we have enabled them to make things better, right now,” Gillespie explained.

“Our system support is designed to make every operator the best operator, by addressing generational issues, digitizing data and enabling better decision support,” he added. “GE has told us that other firms have come in, consulted with them, and left. We go through the ebbs and flows that happen throughout a project.”

Each engagement is a custom fit. Gray Matter Systems gives bite-sized digestible steps, each with its own ROI, that create an appetite for more. Our customers say, ‘We need more of this, faster– why wouldn’t we?’

“It comes back to empowering people. How can your best people perform better, while operations need to keep running? We’re going to be with you to answer those questions. We’re not leaving you in the dust.”

In addition to firms like GE, Gray Matter Systems also works with global brands like Procter & Gamble and others, as well as major infrastructure providers like DC Water and Wastewater, which provides the nation’s capital with water and sanitation services. Gillespie’s company has offices and professional staff nationwide, serving customers around the world. Interestingly, however, cybersecurity has emerged as a growing category for the company — one that cuts across all verticals.

“People realize they don’t have adequate cyber protection,” he said. “It’s like, the front door is solid metal, with deadbolts, chains, locks and a motion detector– but the back porch window is wide open. The massive information breach, after all, began by hackers getting into information related to an HVAC provider. Our data-digitizing approach applies to customers hoping to enhance their online security, as well.”

Gray Matter Systems hopes to more than double its revenues organically within the next three years, partly by continuing to draw from the strong Pittsburgh connection. “We want to help Pittsburgh as much as Pittsburgh has helped us,” Gillespie said.

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