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Adobe, Hitachi Use AI for IT and OT

WSJ highlights some solid examples of “self-healing” AI systems that companies like Adobe and Hitachi have deployed to handle IT and OT tasks.

At Adobe, AI is correcting errors that result from data batching, or quickly transferring large amounts of data.

At Hitachi Vantara, a subsidiary, an AI network addresses an operational technology task with real-time analytics and sensors that “monitor, analyze and self-correct temperature and airflow in data centers.”

Adobe CIO Cynthia Stoddard. PHOTO: ADOBE

WSJ reports the initiative has saved “38 percent in annual data center costs” and increased storage capacities.

Within three to five years, AI-enabled networks are predicted to become mainstream at big companies, said Rohit Mehra, vice president of network infrastructure at research firm International Data Corp.

Rohit Mehra, VP of network infrastructure at research firm International Data Corp.

Data Analytics, High-Performance HMI Ease Rising Water Utility Costs

The American Waterworks Association reports that consumer charges for drinking water and wastewater service are outpacing the consumer price index.

“Between the 2016 and 2018 surveys, charges increased 7.2 percent for water and 7.5 percent for wastewater. During the same span, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 4.6 percent,” AWWA reported.

Capital spending by utilities hit an all-time high of more than $50 billion in 2017. Many utilities have doubts about how they will keep up with the rising capital costs.

Source: Pexel

The prevailing contention at water conferences like AWWA ACE held last month in Denver, Colo., is that digital water utility assets offer lower-cost solutions.

Dave Geiger of GrayMatter and Scott Duhaime of GE Digital wrote in the latest edition of Opflow, AWWA’s newsletter, that optimization through high-performance HMI graphics is one way utilities are reducing the possibility of costly errors.

“Poor-performing HMI screens are cited as significant contributing factors to mistakes. ANSI/ISA-101, Human Machine Interfaces for Process Automation Systems, is a standard that addresses how information (not just data) is presented to operators. The standard consists of recommendations for providing an operator with the visualization tools and information needed to improve safety, quality, productivity, and reliability,” Geiger and Duhaime wrote.

Visit AWWA’s website to find the rest of the report.

To set up an opportunity to discuss what high-performance graphics can do for your utility, contact GrayMatter.

Time is Running Out to Sign Up for Transform 2019

GrayMatter’s Transform 2019 Industrial Intelligence Conference at Put-in-Bay, Ohio, July 30 – Aug. 1 is getting close to capacity.

If you’ve been thinking about registering for this year’s conference, now is the time. Look for speakers from PPG, Bell, Smucker’s, T. Marzetti and many more.

Put-in-Bay, Ohio, at Dusk during Transform 2018. Photo: Jeremy Boren

Check out our agenda. It has all of our keynotes and breakout sessions for leaders in manufacturing, water, energy, reliability, cybersecurity and more.

We’ll be starting with a Tech Showcase on the evening of July 30. You’ll have a chance to network with conference attendees.

Don’t miss out on the biggest Transform yet!

The post TechHub: Self-Healing AI, Rising Cost of Water, Transform 2019 appeared first on GrayMatter.

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PITTSBURGH — A GrayMatter spin-off company that uses data analytics and machine learning to predict potential home appliance failures will become part of Resideo Technologies, Inc., a leading, global provider of residential comfort and security solutions in Austin, Texas.

Resideo announced Friday it has acquired LifeWhere, which GrayMatter started internally in 2016 and spun out in October 2017 to bring its expertise in industrial intelligence and predictive analytics to the residential utility market.

“It’s a great example of Pittsburgh’s technology ecosystem coming together,” said GrayMatter co-founder and CEO Jim Gillespie. “We knew there was an opportunity for homeowners and HVAC companies to benefit from predictive analytics in the smart-home market, and LifeWhere was able to build a solution that enhances Resideo’s already impressive portfolio.”

GrayMatter and LifeWhere worked with Pittsburgh-based Innovation Works, a nonprofit incubator that supports entrepreneurs, and the University of Pittsburgh’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business to launch LifeWhere. The startup has been based in Alloy 26, a technology co-working space on Pittsburgh’s North Shore.

Gillespie, an alumnus of Carnegie Mellon University, serves on LifeWhere’s Board of Directors. He is also a member of the board at the Carnegie Science Center, and he recently was nominated to join the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s Board of Directors.

LifeWhere’s technology bridges the gap between homeowners and service experts by remotely monitoring critical residential systems, such as furnaces and air conditioners. It provides analytics that professional HVAC companies can use to quickly diagnose a problem and dispatch a technician to fix it before a catastrophic appliance failure occurs.

“LifeWhere is a perfect fit for our portfolio of home comfort solutions and demonstrates our commitment to connecting consumers with the do-it-for-me professional contractor channel to provide a safe, healthy and efficient home, accessible to all,” said Mike Nefkens, president and CEO of Resideo.

“Through our network of 110,000 professional contractors, we are well positioned to help professionals conduct preventative appliance maintenance. By empowering our pros to diagnose and repair ‘behind the wall’ appliance issues proactively, they can mitigate the inconvenience of a catastrophic appliance failure.”

The announcement marks the third acquisition by Resideo since it became a standalone, publicly-traded company following its spinoff from Honeywell in October 2018.

LifeWhere was GrayMatter’s first spinoff company. 

About GrayMatter

GrayMatter, based in Warrendale, Pa., helps your people and your industrial assets become smarter and more visible. We’re a services-first company that starts with your problem and works backwards to help you fix it. We provide consulting, implementation and managed services to the manufacturing, energy, water utility, food and beverage and other industries.

The post Resideo Technologies Acquires Pittsburgh-based GrayMatter Spinoff, LifeWhere appeared first on GrayMatter.

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AI Adoption Can be Tricky — Performance Benchmarks Might Help

Designing an AI solution can be difficult. Comparing different AI tools to one another can be even trickier.

That’s why MLPerf, a consortium of more than 40 technology companies including Facebook and Google, are issuing standards for how AI tools should perform tasks such as “image recognition, object detection and voice translation.”

Andrew Ng, founder of Landing AI, speaking at a conference in Las Vegas in June. Landing AI is part of MLPerf. PHOTO: MARK RALSTON/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

According to WSJ, “David Schubmehl, research director for AI systems at IDC, said benchmarks can help companies better address the complexities around AI adoption, allowing them to make apples-to-apples comparisons on the many AI software and hardware tools available.”

If you’re new to MLPerf (the group started in 2018), here are its goals, which can be found online:

  • Accelerate progress in ML via fair and useful measurement
  • Serve both the commercial and research communities
  • Enable fair comparison of competing systems yet encourage innovation to improve the state-of-the-art of ML
  • Enforce replicability to ensure reliable results
  • Keep benchmarking effort affordable so all can participate
Transform 2019 Almost One Month Away

That’s right — GrayMatter’s Industrial Intelligence Conference set for July 30 – Aug. 1 at Put-in-Bay, Ohio, is about one month away. But there’s still time to sign up to join other operational technology professionals for our premiere, multi-day learning and networking event.

Here’s just some of what we have planned:

• Keynote speaker Cassandra Worthy will be talking about Mastering the Chemistry of Change and how you can motivate your team to embrace digital transformation and empower its members to ensure implementation is a success;

John Baier, senior manager of IS operations at Smucker’s, will give a keynote discussion and Q-and-A session about Smucker’s success in implementing a project to gather data from its production facilities and turn that data into actionable data visualizations that company leaders and floor shop operators can use to make better, more informed decisions;

• Our Becoming Bold Executive Panel: Skills Leaders Need for the Future will feature Jeff Woodard, VP of Operational Excellence,
T. Marzetti; Amy Sausen, IT Global Director, R&D, and Global Manufacturing, Kimberly-Clark; and Mike Matlock, a former DOW executive & operations leader. These experienced digital leaders will talk about risk-taking, experimentation and their bold ideas to drive digitization.

Sign up to attend the conference today — groups of three that sign up together receive a 30-percent discount.

Update: Ransomware Attack Forced Norsk Hydro to Use Pen & Paper

TechHub wrote about Norsk Hydro in late March as the Norwegian aluminum manufacturer struggled to rebound from a ransomware attack that affected dozens of sites and thousands of employees.

After more than a month, Norsk Hydro was still recovering, according to BBC cybersecurity reporter Joe Tidy, who took a tour of a company facility and found that employees were forced to adopt some decidedly low-tech coping mechanisms — like pen and paper.

A screen capture from a BBC report on Norsk Hydro’s ransomeware attack.

Tidy reported that Norsk Hydro relied on reams of paper work to track orders and turned to long-retired employees who had experience with paper record-keeping.

Hydro decided not to pay the cybercriminals’ ransom and instead worked to rebuild its systems.

“I think in general it’s a very bad idea to pay. It fuels an industry. It’s probably financing other sorts of crimes.”

Joe De Vliegher of Norsk Hydro via BBC

There’s a debate going on within the cybersecurity community about whether or not to pay a ransom.

Some, like the City of Baltimore and Norsk, have decided that they would rather take on the arduous task of rebuilding their systems. Others, like Riviera Beach, Fla., decide it’s best to pay.

Riviera Beach’s city council voted recently to pay a ransom of $600,000 in Bitcoin to unlock its systems after a three-week lockout. The ransomware spread after an employee clicked a malicious email link.

GrayMatter Cybersecurity Lead Scott Christensen was interviewed on GrayMatter’s emPOWERUP Podcast about why cities and companies are vulnerable to ransomware attacks and what organizations can do to mitigate the risk of an attack.

Listen here.

The full BBC report on Norsk Hydro:

Coming Up: 2019 GE Digital User Conference Set for Austin

Late September is one of the best times of the year to visit Austin.

Daytime temperatures tend to be lower; the humidity subsides, a bit; and, this year, GE Digital is bringing its user conference to the Texas town nicknamed “Silicon Hills.”

“Over two days, the GE Digital User Conference will bring together a diverse group of users, industry professionals, and subject matter experts to educate, learn, inspire, and network.”

The conference will feature “keynotes, breakout sessions, networking activities, and hands-on demos.” Topics will include how industrial companies can digitize production, improve productivity, optimize maintenance and reliability, and enable operational intelligence.

Stay tuned for more details about the agenda, speakers and events as we get closer to the conference.

The early-bird rate this year is $500 per person (available until Aug. 31). Regular pricing is $750 per person Sept. 1-22.

Register here.

The post TechHub: AI Benchmarks, Transform2019, Ransomware and GE Digital appeared first on GrayMatter.

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Manufacturing is the ‘largest economic engine’ in Illinois

A new study commissioned by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association seeks to raise awareness about an industry that, it says, employs 1 in 10 Illinoisans.

Mark Denzler, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, said the sector is the state’s “largest economic engine,” employing about 600,000 workers directly and hundreds of thousands more in ancillary manufacturing jobs or jobs supported by industry spending.

“People are familiar with Caterpillar and John Deere, but they might not know that food products comprise the single largest sector of the state’s manufacturing, with chemicals second and machinery third.”

Mark Denzler, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers Association

Illinois has struggled to slow population loss and competed with neighboring Midwestern states that have offered tax benefits to entice manufacturers to relocate. Even so, the report highlights the huge economic impact that manufacturing has on the state.

Even so, the report highlights the huge economic impact that manufacturing has on the state.

Of the $65.2 billion in exports from Illinois in 2017, 93 percent came from manufactured goods and products, according toThe Center Square.

Some quick facts about exports from Illinois from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative:

  • In 2018, Illinois goods exports were $65.4 billion, an increase of 22 percent ($12 billion) from its export level in 2008.
  • Illinois was the 6th largest state exporter of goods in 2018.
  • Goods exports accounted for 7.9 percent of Illinois GDP in 2017.
  • The state’s largest manufacturing export category is machinery, except electrical, which accounted for $11.8 billion of Illinois’s total goods exports in 2018.
  • Other top manufacturing exports are chemicals ($9.0 billion), computer & electronic products ($8.6 billion), transportation equipment ($7.9 billion), and food & kindred products ($4.1 billion).
Uncrustables are so popular, Smucker’s doesn’t need to advertise

In a wide-ranging interview with Crain’s Cleveland Business, Smucker’s CEO Mark Smucker revealed that the company known for jams, jellies and peanut butter can’t make its popular Uncrustables ready-made sandwiches fast enough.

Smucker’s produces 2.3 million Uncrustables a day at a plant in Kentucky. It’s still not enough to keep up with demand, and it’s why Smucker’s is building a $340 million plant in Longmont, Colo., that is expected to employ about 500 people to expand its Uncrustables capacity.

It’s set to open in late 2019. It will be the company’s first facility in Colorado.

“The reason we’re building that plant is there’s so much demand for the product. We could easily double the business … and we haven’t needed to advertise the product, because as soon as we did, we couldn’t keep up with demand. … So it’s been almost nothing.”

Mark Smucker, CEO of Smucker’s

Uncrustables PB&Js are frozen, disc-shaped sandwiches. They come in several varieties including PB and grape jelly, PB and honey spread on whole wheat and chocolate-flavored hazelnut.

Once the new plant opens, the company plans to launch a nationwide marketing campaign to advertise Uncrustables.

MIT spinoff prints 3D images with regular ink for consumer packaged goods industry

MIT researchers have developed a method known as nonconvex optimization that uses normal ink and printing presses to produce impressive 3D images on packaged goods, according to MIT News.

Lumii On-Press - Security and Authentication - YouTube

The MIT startup company, Lumii, “uses complex algorithms to precisely place tens of millions of dots of ink on two sides of clear film to create light fields that achieve the same visual effects as special films and lenses. The designs add depth, motion, and chromatic effect to packages, labels, IDs, and more. “

Founders Tom Baran and Matt Hirsch say they’re targeting the $200 billion consumer packaged goods industry with their product, which is launching on Portico Brewing’s Fuzzy Logic beer cans. The cans display some cool-looking 3D triangles.

Lumii’s founders say the technology is a less expensive method of producing 3D or holographic effects on printed goods compared to the foils that are commonly used on ID cards and other applications.

Join GrayMatter at Transform 2019

Time (and room) is running out to register for Transform 2019, GrayMatter’s Industrial Intelligence Conference set for July 30 – Aug. 1 in Put-in-Bay, Ohio.

If you’ve been thinking of registering, now is the time!

We’ve added to our speaker and breakout session list, so be sure to check out our prospectus and share it with your team (and your boss). GrayMatter is hosting speakers from Smucker’s, Amazon, Bell and many more

Learn more about the event and sign up here.

Questions? us.

The post Illinois Manufacturing, Smucker’s Adds Uncrustables Capacity, 3D Printing with Regular Ink appeared first on GrayMatter.

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Rethinking Digital Transformation

IndustryWeek highlights in “Meet Your New Robot Co-Worker” two Intel researchers, Irene Petrick and Faith McCreary, who conducted a survey of manufacturers’ challenges surrounding digital transformation and found a lot of enthusiasm and an equal about of trepidation about the right approach.

Intel’s Faith McCreary, left, and Irene Petrick.

“Workers want to be involved early, they think they should be involved early, and believe they have a lot to contribute from a knowledge perspective about the processes.”

Irene Petrick, Intel

Story includes a few tips for companies pursuing digital transformation:

  • Involve your people early
  • Stop thinking about jobs and “instead break down work into tasks”
  • Invest in training
  • Avoid missing opportunities by thinking big

From the story:

“Mike Mikula, chief engineer for Ford’s Advanced Manufacturing Center, says that when designing applied technology for the factory, his team will bring in both hourly and salaried people “very early in the process” so they can talk about their challenges, share their expertise of the process and contribute ideas for improvement. This not only improves the end result; it empowers team members who will be using the technology, giving them a voice and a stake in its success.”

Natural Gas Use is Growing Thanks to Industrial Applications

Axios notes natural gas is the fastest-growing energy source in the world, according to the International Energy Agency.

For those who follow the industry, that’s not much of a surprise.

What is interesting is what the IEA says is responsible for much of that growth: industrial uses.

Those include the production of chemicals and fertilizers, Axios reports.


Because renewable energy sources can’t replace natural gas in the industrial sector as easily as they can when it comes to electricity production.

What’s next: IEA sees more demand growth ahead, but not as fast as last year’s. It projects worldwide demand will rise more than 10% over the next 5 years, with China alone expected to account for 40% of the increase.


WSJ: CFOs Ponder How Much to Spend on Cybersecurity

Executives from FitBit, JetBlue and other companies talked to WSJ about how to calibrate spending on cybersecurity given the ceaseless carousel of cyber threats companies face.

Some of they key bits of advice included:

  • Make strong relationships with the CISO and other IT managers, said Steve Priest, CFO of JetBlue Airways Corp;
  • Encourage IT managers purchasing teams to work together;
  • Identify the company’s biggest threats and target spending to mitigate them, Judith Pinto, managing director at consulting firm Promontory Financial Group, told WSJ;
  • Build an internal group of cybersecurity experts who manage the company’s cybersecurity budget and objectives, said Ron Kisling, CFO of FitBit Inc.
Register for Transform2019!

Check out the latest speaker prospectus for GrayMatter’s annual Industrial Intelligence Conference: Transform 2019.

It’s filled with keynote speakers from Smucker’s, Amazon, Marzetti and more.

Check it out and sign up today.

The post TechHub: Robot Co-Workers, Natural Gas Use Grows, Cyber Spending appeared first on GrayMatter.

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‘Disruption is a customer-driven phenomenon’

It’s not unusual to hear someone point to a startup or a new technology as the driving force behind an industry disruption.

Examples abound. Taxis and Uber. Cell phones and Apple. Video on demand and Netflix.

But Harvard Business School Professor Thales S. Teixeira contends it’s not only about companies or technologies, it’s about the customers and their willingness to adopt a new solution.

Teixeira also highlights the power of “coupling” services or products for customers to spur growth in revenue and a company’s capabilities.

“New technologies come and go. The ones that stick around are those the consumers choose to adopt.”

Thales S. Teixeira, Lumry Family Associate Professor at Harvard Business School

It’s another way of saying that customers, whether they’re B2B or at the consumer level, value solutions to real problems.

It’s worth investing the time and energy into finding out what customers need and letting that guide a company’s digital transformation.

Read the full HBR article here.

Cybersecurity Expert Analyzes Ransomware Attack on Baltimore, Other Cities

GrayMatter Cybersecurity Practice Lead Scott Christensen appeared on the emPOWERUP Podcast to talk about why so many U.S. cities, including Baltimore, which is reeling from a recent attack, are vulnerable to ransomware attacks.

One of the biggest reasons: Many U.S. cities rely on legacy operating systems and aren’t always diligent about implementing patches and upgrades. It’s a problem that can bedevil manufacturing companies, as well, according to Christensen.

Opportunistic cybercriminals seek out cities because they tend to be easier targets with a valuable trove of data, Christensen said.

GrayMatter Cybersecurity Practice Lead Scott Christensen speaks during GrayMatter’s Digital Disruptors Series event in Pittsburgh on April 25, 2019. Photo by Jeremy Boren

Much of that data is important to the lives of city residents. In Baltimore’s case, the ransomware attack locked down its real estate records, temporarily halting home sales until city officials designed a workaround.

Christensen said some of the top points of entry and reasons that cyberattacks can successfully target cities include:

  • Reliance on USB drives that circumvent many normal “air gap” controls
  • It doesn’t require a high level of technical sophistication to launch a ransomware attack
  • Many legacy technologies aren’t practical to update or replace because of the high cost
  • Phishing attacks can target a large number of government workers

Listen to the full episode here:

Transform 2019: GrayMatter’s Industrial Intelligence Conference Expands Speaker Lineup

GrayMatter has a fantastic lineup of keynote and breakout session speakers for Transform 2019 including:

  • Doug Bellin of Amazon will be talking about how companies and “think like Amazon;”
  • Cassandra Worthy of We are Change Enthusiasts will cover how you can motivate employees to embrace the changes that come with digital transformations;
  • John Baier of The J.M. Smucker Company plans to discuss how Smucker’s is using data visualization and predictive analytics to make its plants more efficient;
  • Jeff Woodard of T. Marzetti Company will provide an update to his talk last year about how Marzetti has capitalized on gains it made by reducing product overfill and building a company culture that rewards employees for excellence;
  • Tim Pryor and Tom Walker of Penn State University will discuss some of the cybersecurity countermeasures in play at institutions of higher learning like Penn State.

Our latest addition to the speaker lineup is Intelligent Assets expert Ken Latino, who will join APM Practice Lead Paul Casto in presenting at Transform from July 30 to Aug. 1.

Here’s a preview of what you’ll learn from Ken.

APM Expert Ken Latino discusses planning your company's APM journey - YouTube
Don’t forget to sign up for Transform today!

The post TechHub: What Really Drives Disruption, Ransomware Hits Cities, Transform 2019 appeared first on GrayMatter.

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WaterForce Adapts to Challenges of Remote Work Sites
Keystone Clearwater Solutions WaterForce - YouTube

GrayMatter co-innovated with Hershey, Pa.-based Keystone Clearwater Solutions to create WaterForce — a new way of thinking about water management solutions for the oil and gas industry.

Remote drill sites are often tucked into hillsides that interrupt radio signals or are too far from populated areas to access cell phone communications.

Those challenges have led many to believe it’s not feasible to use wireless technology to monitor and control water pipeline systems.

That’s why GrayMatter and Keystone Clearwater Solutions worked together to create WaterForce, a smart-sensor, turnkey solution that’s flexible enough to adapt to any terrain.

“One of our customers described it as the Cadillac of automated water management systems.”

Jeff Wehler, Senior Vice President & Controller, Keystone Clearwater Solutions, LLC

Read our latest case study about working with Keystone.

Smucker’s Highlights How Analytics, Data Viz Can ‘Tell a Story’
Powering Our Business With Technology - YouTube

Smucker’s recently published its Fiscal Year 2020 Company Insight, an interactive video series and magazine that explores how the company is innovating.

Smucker’s, a GrayMatter partner, dedicated a section of the Insight report to data visualization and analytics. Smucker’s has invested in gathering actionable data from its facilities to reduce waste and downtime and to help its customers make better business decisions.

VP of Information Services Bryan Hutson writes, “We believe that our use of analytics and data visualization must tell a story that leads to actionable results to be considered valuable. Our organization is fortunate to include people who are passionate about our internal partners and their data. They bring expertise in collecting, connecting, assembling, analyzing and visualizing data to help our business leaders have greater confidence in the decisions they make.”

You can read more of Bryan’s comments here.

Two of Smucker’s top Information Services pros, John Baier and Kevin Briggs, will speak at GrayMatter’s Industrial Intelligence Conference: Transform 2019, which is July 30 – Aug. 1 at Put-in-Bay, Ohio.

Sign up today to learn from top industry leaders like Smucker’s at Transform 2019.

T. Marzetti Co. Set to Open Innovation Center

T Marzetti, a GrayMatter partner, knows the value of innovation. The speciality food company is planning to open its first “innovation center” in Lewis Center, Ohio, this summer reports Columbus Business First.

“The 45,000-square-foot research-and-development facility will help the Columbus, Ohio-based company coordinate some of its product development efforts, and will give its culinary and product development teams a facility to allow them to meet with customers for collaboration.”

T. Marzetti will be presenting at Transform 2019 about its innovation, collaborative work with GrayMatter.

Read more about T. Marzetti’s digital transformation here.

Don’t forget to sign up today for Transform 2019!

The post Disruptive Tech from Keystone Clearwater, Smucker’s & Marzetti appeared first on GrayMatter.

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Procter & Gamble Tests Earth-Friendly Chemistry and Packaging

P&G this month debuted a refillable stainless steel laundry detergent container and highlighted Tide Purclean, which trades petroleum-based ingredients for plant-based alternatives such as coconut, soy and corn.

The showcase was part of the Green Chemistry & Commerce Council conference at the company’s Cincinnati HQ.

Procter & Gamble Co. is trying the refillable container in about 5,000 New York households.

“We’ve got a lot of work underway on how we reduce our dependence on plastic. The best thing we can do frankly is light weighting. So, we’re doing a lot of work on how do just reduce the total plastic that goes into a package.”

Todd Cline, section head of R&D for the company’s North American fabric care unit

Todd Cline, of P&G, said the company has many sustainable innovations available or being developed, according to WCPO Cincinnati.

Tide Ecobox, released in 2018, uses 60 percent less plastic. It’s also easier to ship.

Read more about P&G’s innovations here.

Orbital Insight Gives New Meaning to Big Data

Bloomberg profiled a company that uses satellites and machine vision algorithms to “interrogate the planet” for valuable data about crop yields, oil tanker locations and even shopping habits.

In a fascinating example of how the technology works, Orbital Insight engineers designed a computer-vision algorithm that tracked the number of cars in 250,000 retailer parking lots over four years.

We are proud to announce Orbital GO, our proprietary self-service platform "allowing anyone to interrogate the planet," Read more on @Bloomberg @business: https://t.co/vZQupRczLy #geospatial @technology

— Orbital Insight (@orbital_insight) May 15, 2019

In theory, the data could help retailers better understand shopping behaviors and correlate long-term trends against actual sales figures.

“You could see Black Friday, Christmas, back to school,” said James Crawford, Orbital’s founder and chief executive officer, according to Bloomberg.

For the profile, see Bloomberg.

Industrial Companies Could Be Vulnerable to Another WannaCry Attack

Microsoft is pushing an urgent software patch to try to head off a potential second WannaCry-type cyberattack.

What makes this update different is that Microsoft made the update available for Windows XP and Windows 2003, which it no longer supports with updates, according to Forbes.

Why? Many industrial companies still rely on those versions, so they are vulnerable.

Experts at industrial cybersecurity platform CyberX analyzed traffic from more than 850 operation technology networks and found that 53 percent of industrial sites are still running unsupported versions of Windows. 


The May 2017 WannaCry ransomeware attack was among the worst of its kind, Forbes reported.

Ransomware attacks work by allowing hackers to lock users out out tie up sensitive data and then demand money in exchange for access to the affected data.

“Patching computers in industrial control networks is challenging because they often operate 24/7, controlling large-scale physical processes like oil refining and electricity generation,” says @rdecker99 , VP of Industrial Cybersecurity @CyberX_Labs https://t.co/i51zNlJQF6 #ics

— CyberX (@CyberX_Labs) May 16, 2019

CyberX at Cyburgh

Speaking of CyberX, the company will be part of the 2019 Cyburgh, PA, Initiative organized by the Pittsburgh Technology Council on June 3 in Pittsburgh.

Look for Cyburgh and GrayMatter to learn from other cybersecurity professionals.

Two of Cyburgh’s keynote speakers are Scott W. Brady, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and Rob Karas, who is with the National Cybersecurity Assessments and Technology Services, part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

GrayMatter is a member of the Pittsburgh Technology Council.

See the full event schedule here.

Transform 2019 is Coming Up

Don’t forget to sign up for Transform 2019, our annual user conference! We’re adding to the agenda every week, so keep checking back for updates.

“A lot of the systems that we’ve installed in our plant came from ideas from this conference.”

The Timken Company, IT Professional

Here’s a sampling of the breakout sessions and case study focus sessions we’re planning:

• Breakthrough Data Visualization Techniques at a Florida Water Utility

• High Performance HMI, WebHMI + ISA 101 in the Real World

• Securing Cloud Connectivity

• How a Paper Company Transformed Ideas into Operational Efficiencies

• From the Plant Floor: A Synthetic Rubber Manufacturer’s Plant-Wide Intelligent Assets Rollout

Those are just a few.

For more information and to register, click here.

The post TechHub: P&G Green Tech, Orbital Insight, WannaCry Returns appeared first on GrayMatter.

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Algorithm Knows How to Raise Pesto-Perfect Basil

MIT researchers are using machine learning to control the temperature, light, humidity, and other variables that affect the growth and taste of hydroponically raised basil plants, according to MIT Technology Review.

They didn’t stop there.

Using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, the researchers also measured how certain compounds in the environment affected the basil’s taste.

It’s an object-lesson in allowing technology to help you challenge your assumptions.

“The research showed, counterintuitively, that exposing plants to light 24 hours a day generated the best taste.”

MIT Media Lab food server. Credit: PLOS ONE

University researchers aren’t the only ones deploying machine learning to improve agriculture.

A data science team at Bayer is exploring how machine learning can optimize plant growth in greenhouses used on commercial farms, MIT Technology Review reports.

“Flavor is one of the areas where we are heavily using machine learning— to understand the flavor of different vegetables.”

Naveen Singla, Bayer

You can find the full report on the MIT research group’s work in the journal PLOS ONE.

This Gives New Meaning to Human-Machine Interface

NPR reporter Elise Hu this week tested out a neural-computer link that allows humans to use their thoughts to move shapes on a computer screen (think: Tetris).

The technology is being developed at the University of Washington’s Center for Neurotechnology.

It’s very early-stage technology.

On Gartner’s “Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies,” you can see “Brain-Computer Interface” is firmly in the category of innovations that will take more than 10 years to reach the “Plateau of Productivity.”

Even so, it’s easy to imagine an industrial technology application one day that would allow workers in manufacturing facilities to perform precise or even dangerous robot-assisted tasks by using their thoughts instead of their hands.

“In … studies where we did [mind] control of robotic arms, in a few hours the robotic arm was being assimilated by the brain of the subjects as an extension of the sense of self, an extension of the body of these subjects.”

Duke University neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis

Learn from GrayMatter’s Industrial Intelligence Experts

If you’re here, you know about GrayMatter or you’re interested in what we do.

TechHub, GrayMatter’s emPOWERUP Podcast and our customer stories tell part of our story, but to really get the full picture of what our company offers, it’s a good idea to attend one of our upcoming events designed for end users in manufacturing, water/wastewater utilities, oil and gas, food and beverage, steel, chemical and anyone with cybersecurity or operational technology needs.

Here’s a lineup of our upcoming event offerings:

Transform 2019: July 30 – Aug. 1
Transform 2019: July 30 – Aug. 1

The grandaddy of GrayMatter events.

If you join us for just one event this year, make it Transform 2019 at Put-in-Bay, Ohio, a short drive from the Cleveland and Detroit airports.

Now in its 25th year, Transform has a ton of learning opportunities for operational technology specialists along with top-notch professionals who will be speaking about how their companies are navigating Industry 4.0, digital transformation, creating and using actionable data and more.

Our first keynote speaker this year is John Baier, Senior Manager, IS Operations, The J.M. Smucker Company.

John will be talking about harvesting valuable data from Smucker’s production facilities to improve efficiency. He will also explain how to demonstrate the value of investing in new technology to executives.

It’s a can’t-miss opportunity to hear directly from a top professional in industrial intelligence.

Early-bird rates are available now.

Digital Disruptors Detroit: May 16

We had so much interest and success in October in Detroit, we wanted to return to offer another opportunity to talk about Industry 4.0 with a focus on manufacturing and the automotive industry.

Industry leaders Carson Drake and Coleman Easterly will separate Industry 4.0 hype from reality in this workshop, which is designed to help manufacturers develop practical strategies with breakthrough technology to uncover hidden savings.

When you sign up, let us know if you have specific topics and questions that you want Carson and Coleman to cover, and we can tailor our presentation.

Digital Disruptors Series Cleveland: May 15

We’ve had a great deal of interest in our Cleveland event, so sign up today so you don’t miss out on one of the final stops of our multi-city Digital Disruptors Series Tour.

Carson and Coleman will dive into how to create a digital transformation roadmap and talk about how they’ve successfully deployed roadmaps at hundreds — yes, hundreds — of manufacturing facilities across the country.

Tap into their knowledge and experience.

The post TechHub: Machine Learning Chef, Computer Mind Meld, Smucker’s at Transform appeared first on GrayMatter.

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Early-bird Registration Opens for Transform 2019

We’re excited to announced that GrayMatter has opened early-bird registration for our annual user conference: Transform 2019!

GrayMatter is kicking off registration by announcing the first keynote speaker: John Baier of The J.M. Smucker Company.

John Baier, Senior Manager, IS Operations, J.M. Smucker Company

John leads a group that supports Smucker’s production facilities. He will highlight how his team takes a practical, pragmatic approach to harvesting value to align with initiative roadmaps and to support corporate investment in new technology.

Click the full agenda.

This year’s event will again be in Put-in-Bay, Ohio, July 30 – Aug. 1. It’s designed for end-user professionals in all verticals who are passionate about operational technology and transforming into digital, industrial operations.

Sign up here.

versiondog Backs Up CERN’s Large Hadron Collider

Data management system versiondog, a GrayMatter partner, is backing up the industrial systems that monitor and control the Large Hadron Collider at CERN near Geneva — the world’s largest particle accelerator.

The European Organization for Nuclear Research has used versiondog for about a year to manage the data of about 500 components, making versiondog one of CERN’s standard technologies.

Section of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

“We have made significant gains in certainty and quality when it comes to data availability in areas where many programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are in use. Implementing versiondog has put us on a new quality level,” says Jerónimo Ortolá Vidal, Automation Engineer at the Industrial Controls and Safety Systems Group at CERN.

The Large Hadron Collider was commissioned in 2008 to carry out cutting-edge research into particle physics.

versiondog from Auvesy provides a manufacturer-independent software solution for backup, version control, and documentation of project data for industrial control systems. It uses standardized workflow and centralized data storage, makes automatic backups and ensures comprehensible documentation of each step in the development process. The SmartCompare function enables detailed program comparison with the same presentation as the system editor. It supports audit trail documentation in accordance with ISO 900x, VDA 6.x, FDA 21 CFR 11, GAMP and GMP.

“We want to make all the processes of the control system and their surrounding ancillary equipment homogeneous,” Ortolá said. “Our goal is to always have a clear overview of all PLCs and HMIs and all the changes that are made to their control programs. We want to be able to manage all program versions using a standardized procedure, and it is extremely important to us to be able to store and safeguard data centrally.”

To learn more about implementing a version control solution, contact GrayMatter at 412-741-2410 or via our website at graymattersystems.com.

CERN P&G Takes on Direct-to-Consumer Challenge by Innovating from Within P&G Ventures| PROCTER & GAMBLE

Leigh Radford, Vice President and General Manager, P&G Ventures, discusses in a Forbes story how Procter & Gamble has created a lean, start-up style organization within its own company.

Leigh said P&G’s former CEO encouraged her to develop P&G Ventures as a way to “incubate promising new businesses and new categories for the company.”

A few of the key insights Leigh offered for how she created P&G Ventures include:

  • Recruit senior employees with the skills to take smart risks and make decisions without too much oversight
  • Hire external expertise to augment the knowledge of the internal group
  • Be prepared to make decisions more quickly than the larger organization

While Dave Morgan indicated that P&G was being challenged by DTC brands, P&G Ventures appears to be addressing this by creating a division designed to both drive innovation and thrive in the DTC space. Perhaps this nearly 200-year-old company is more agile than some think.

Check out the full story here.

The post Transform 2019, P&G Innovates, versiondog at CERN appeared first on GrayMatter.

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