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.

Register for Digital Day

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

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Digital Efficiency

The age of the industrial Internet is upon us, which means water and wastewater utilities are now taking advantage of newer technologies that are changing the landscape of our sector. With a few pieces of software, utilities can now optimize their operational performance, enhance asset reliability and accurately monitor their systems.

Some of the brightest minds on the planet are developing software for the next-generation of Industrial Internet technologies, and the potential advantages for the industry are nearly unlimited. These products allow for more intelligent management of assets by harvesting and processing massive amounts of data to produce actionable information.

The rate and complexity of this technological development can be both exciting and unnerving, even it may be unclear how everything fits together or what to do with all the available information.

So how does one even begin to incorporate it all?

Adapting to the technology can be tricky, but the first step is mentally preparing for this fundamental shift in your operational philosophy.

Getting started can be the hardest part, but it’s also the most important step in protecting your operation from unplanned downtime that can directly impact the bottom line; when optimized, these technological changes could save your organization millions of dollars.

It’s better to start with smaller changes, especially for your employees – this allows them to gradually get comfortable with new processes before adopting more advanced technologies.

Most importantly, a well-formulated plan will help your organization transform from a reactive and unpredictable operator into an efficient, intelligent and highly-profitable one where data is now your best business partner.

A Modern Utility’s Guide to Digital Efficiency

Free Event, hosted by the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, the City of Akron, and the Akron Global Water Alliance
Up to 7 CEUs Available
Nov. 12 – Cincinnati Nov. 18 – Akron

Monitor Your Assets

To kick off your journey, let’s begin with basic monitoring of your most critical assets.

This is done by equipping critical machinery with sensors and control networks that read and manage the actions of that specific piece of equipment. By collecting and simplifying the data produced, an operation starts to form a solid foundation that determines how all the separate parts of the system are supposed to function as a complete unit.

While experienced personnel might believe they are very good at catching and solving problems before they become much worse, data is much more accurate and more reliable – it never takes a vacation or sick day. In other words, data is the key to all the dirty little secrets your machines keep from you.

As the industrial process unfolds, the installed sensors pick up information about the speed of each stcomputer-components-1192101ep, the volume of liquids, the internal temperature of a pipe, and where a leak may be letting air or water into the system.

The sensors and controls are doing the heavy lifting for you, which eliminates any doubt about what is happening within the machines. Once the data is harvested and funneled to one location, engineers can now watch and focus primarily on the data from an entire operation; they can access the information in a central office or remotely.

One way to access the system data is through an online Human Machine Interface/ Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (HMI/SCADA) system at the point of control. This technology allows operators to view all systems in the process from one location, giving them greater access to real-time information and allowing them to make more informed decisions.

The other way to evaluate the data is through the cloud, which allows access from an established control center, but it also enables engineers to examine real-time data from a wireless Internet connection; this could be within the control center or out in the field. Now, any data being collected on the sensors can be analyzed at a central location, and controllers can remotely manage their assets.

Mobilize Your Workforce

Let’s take monitoring a step, or many miles, further. Using mobile applications, engineers have front line access at their fingertips from anywhere they can connect to the web.

Engineers can log in using apps on their iPad, pull up data for all systems under their watch, and monitor real-time information. Insightful and actionable information is always at the ready, so informed decisions can be made without delay, which helps avoid disastrous results and reduce unexpected

Regular maintenance and upkeep will still be required, but the technology definitely helps keep small surprises from becoming major disruptions. Think about the cost avoidance from preventing a water line break: those costs alone makes it well worth it to know ahead of time when things might be starting to break down.

Fixing problems based on data and generally catching problems before they become catastrophic is beneficial on its own, but it still requires constant attention; even manual control leaves a lot of room for error. If that worries you, then you’re ready for some advanced analytics to take you to the next level of protection.

Diagnose Your Pain Points

When analytics come into play, the benefits of intelligent data come into focus – this is when your organization begins to learn the answer to “why?

By deploying an effective analytics strategy, you can begin to understand the data at a deeper level.

Even if history wasn’t your favorite school subject, you’ll learn to love it now because your data history holds the key to preventing major disruptions and optimizing your systems in the future. Instead of physically mobilizing the maintenance team, trained personnel can check the history of the data to discover the root of the problem. Once identified, the team will be able to write a new analytic to give warnings next time a similar data trend

Predictive software works in a few ways. Some systems use cluster analysis or similarity-based modeling. Others use Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) loops to save millions of dollars in unneeded equipment wear-and-tear that can result from large-scale process variability. These systems identify normal equipment behavior as they predict future behavior. This level of intelligence takes numerous variables into account, so these highly-complex relationships (with the data that accurately predicts future states) are based on any particular variation in one or more inputs.

Here’s how it all happens.

Imagine you’re the only person who drives a given road every day to work – there’s no traffic, no lights, no turns.

This is how a machine would work if no other factors came into play, but it’s never that simple. As the area around your commute gets developed, you start to encounter stop signs, crosswalks, construction that blocks a lane or two, and (usually when you’re running late) you get stuck behind a garbage truck. Even though every day your drive is different than the last, you gradually learn from experience, so you’ll know how to react to each future interruption for a safer commute.

This is essentially what happens with advanced analytic modeling. New input variation – new equipment, new materials, new processes, temperature and seasonal changes, and so on – has an effect on the function of each dependent system. Engineers can trust that a certain fluctuation of one input will have a standard reaction in a system down the line.

For example, a drilling operation in a harsh environment with volatile weather patterns would have an established analytic model that determines what the proper internal temperature of a machine should be, compared to the outside temperature. This allows for variation in “proper” internal temperature and makes it easy to distinguish when any deviation is acceptable or if it requires further examination.

The frozen winter months in Michigan will keep internal temperatures on the low side, but it’s a different scenario when everything starts to thaw: you will know how strong the correlating rise in machine temperature is supposed to be, or if the deviation is too extreme and signifies a real threat to the system’s stability.

Learn from History

They say those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, so why limit how much history you can reference?learn-1241297-1279x1933

Water and Waterwater treatment both produce a massive amount of data that is eternally useful; limiting your amount of data only limits your ability to make informed decisions. Industrial Big Data gives you the freedom to mobilize much more information than previously possible.

With the right applications, you will be able to gather data from more sources over a greater duration of time than ever before. You can compare all this data to your real-time activities to make quicker, more informed decisions than ever imagined.

In addition to the emerging technology, cloud-based applications are a major factor with Industrial Big Data because massively scalable storage environments can collect from (and disperse to) variable locations give you the flexibility to work on more data and do it faster.

For example, solutions built on Hadoop®, can handle large data sets by clustering large numbers of low-cost commodity computers together to act as a single storage entity. Historian software allows for economical storage while maintaining rapid access speeds. These solutions scale vertically, for any velocity, as well as horizontally, for any volume and variety.

Optimize Your Operation

Now that your operation is working smarter and leaner, and you’ve built your trust in predictive analytics, you’ll be ready to move further down the efficiency continuum. More sophisticated software analytics won’t only catch problems before they happen, but they also allow you to standardize your process across all parts of the operation to optimize performance and value. Electronic instructions are provided to operators to ensure that the best methods of work are followed every time at every place, regardless of experience or training.stability-1-1240118

The most modern predictive analytics software available now allows you to move from self-defined analytics to a stage where machines learn on their own and constantly write their own analytic rules. You could call it artificial intelligence, but it’s a very realistic shift from unplanned to planned downtime, which could potentially save your company millions of dollars. Predictive-analytic software reduces maintenance costs and improves asset lifetimes to a greater degree than human monitoring could ever do.

Yes, we will still require human interaction and maintenance, but some things simply can’t be done manually. Advanced software can adapt to variations much faster than humans, where the system sends signals to automated controllers that keep everything running in optimal balance.

The point of control goes from the HMI/SCADA system (or iPad app), and becomes starts to become embedded into the controls hardware itself. The information runs in a closed-loop system that greatly reduces the human element, requiring manual interference only when a major issue arises.

Now Dive In!

When all layers of software are incorporated into your maintenance and oversight strategy, you have reached your destination: you are a lean, mean, data-using machine. By taking each step one at a time and steadily marching towards the goal of automation, your oil and gas facility will be at peak performance in no time. Without having to worry about managing emergencies or wasting money on unnecessary procedures, think how much better your job will be at a safer, efficient and more cost-effective operation.

About the Author

AlanHAlan is the Vice President of Water/Wastewater at Gray Matter Systems. Alan has over 20 years experience working in water/wastewater and is an expert is water distribution information technologies. Alan is a frequent speaker at industry events around the country.

This content appeared originally as part of “Damned If We Don’t!: Ideas for Accelerating Change Around Water” and is being reproduced with the permission of its author, Alan Hinchman.

ICYMI: Automation News Roundup, Week Ending April 24

The Game has Been Changed

Data isn’t meant only for scientists and analysts. Recently, athletic performance has been measured through data analysis, according to an article in The Guardian.

Photo courtesy Chilli Head

It’s possible to now track players’ speed and agility and touches of the ball, which can make a huge impact on athletic growth.

But that’s not all- the data side of sports can also affect the business side, as well.

“The good news is, managers and fans alike appear to be addicted to data. So, the opportunity to collect more will inevitably make sports more compelling for fans and attract larger audiences. The opportunities for brands, if they can get the fit right, is enormous,” according to the article.

Eventually, it can even mean a more exciting and engaging experience for the viewer.

“As Professor Steve Haake, director of the Centre for Sports Engineering Research at Sheffield Hallam University, says: ‘Sport has adopted technology rapidly over the last ten years, collecting data to improve athletic performance. Now, professional clubs have realised that this data is valuable in other ways too, to make the match-day experience more exciting and to reach those at home, not even at the game. This is the current revolution in sport,'” quoted in The Guardian article.

Mobile Trends of 2015

What does “going online” or “browsing online” mean to you? Do you conjure up an image of accessing a PC or a laptop? Or do you see yourself pulling your smartphone out of your pocket to access the web?

Photo courtesy Jake Stimpson

According to a recent report done by Pew Research, that seems to be the reality these days.

Nearly two-thirds of all Americans now own a smartphone, up 35% from 2011.

The report revealed that mobile browsing is actually a crucial connection to the web, as 10% of Americans now use smartphones as the sole avenue to go online. These individuals choose to not have access to the Internet in any other manner.

And as many probably expected, the age bracket of 18-29 rely heavily on mobile browsing.

What are we looking up when we use our smartphones?

  • 62% use their smartphones to look up health-related conditions or ailments
  • 57% do online banking
  • 44% are interested in real estate or places to live
  • 43% look up information related to a job (18% actually submit a job application with their smartphone!)

 Read the full report here. 

Getting Digital in the Grocery Aisle

Phys.Org recently shared how start-ups are beginning to make appearances in the food industry.

Photo courtesy USDA

The app, Fetch Rewards, allows grocery shoppers to gain savings and loyalty points while shopping. The app even gives valuable data to both the grocer and the product manufacturers.

“As he makes his way through the store, Hansen, 65, scans bar codes from milk, cheese, mushrooms and other items as he puts them into his cart. The app keeps a running total of his selections, automatically applies discounts and allows him to speed through a special check-out line. ‘I just hate the electronics, but the money savings I like,’ Hansen said, ” in the post.

Read more at:

Keeping the Glass Half-Full

According to GE Reports, water scarcity is becoming a hot issue once again. Droughts like in California and in Texas prompt the need to possibly begin rationing water.

Photo courtesy jenny downing

Unfortunately, lack of water is a problem faced by many countries. GE reports that a study done by the U.N. found that  two-thirds of the world’s population could be vulnerable to water shortages and 1.8 billion people would be living in “countries or regions with absolute water scarcity” by 2025.


[su_quote]In Algiers, the capital of Algeria, residents could not depend on having enough water in their pipes to fill up their teapots for decades. But in 2008, the North African country built the continent’s largest desalination plant and tapped a huge body of water located on its doorstep: the Mediterranean Sea. Today, the plant, located in the central Hamma neighborhood, is using GE technology to supply the city with 53 million gallons of drinking water every day. That’s enough to satisfy one quarter of Algiers’ daily usage.[/su_quote]

Read the rest of the report by GE. 


Media we link to:

“A whole new ball game: how data and tech are changing sport” – The Guardian

U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015″ Pew Research 

Startups put digital technology in the grocery aisles” –

“A Glass Half Full: These Water Treatment Technologies Are So Powerful They Can Fight Drought in the Desert” – GE Reports 


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