Supply Chain Management / Energy Management

Georgia showcases industrial technologies at annual event

Sheila Kennedy unveils new innovations in data, manufacturing, material handling, and energy management.

By Sheila Kennedy

The Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) showcased the state’s hottest new technology companies at its 2014 Georgia Technology Summit on March 26 in Atlanta. Now in its 10th year, the event was attended by more than 1,200 technology professionals, executives, entrepreneurs, and academia.

“Each year, the Georgia Technology Summit honors cutting-edge innovators who represent the very best of our technology community,” says TAG President Tino Mantella. “TAG is proud to introduce them to the world.” Distinctive solutions for parts distribution, garment manufacturing, data mapping, and fleet management benefit the industrial space, and keynote speaker Ted Turner shared his commitment to renewable energy.

Visual parts search

Finding industrial machinery parts is difficult when the part name, number, or vendor is unknown. A new visual recognition application pioneered by Partpic provides a quick, simple, and more accurate way to request replacement parts. Users can open the app on a smart device, snap a picture of the needed part, and a proprietary algorithm will search the database, identify the part, locate a distributor, and let the user order it directly from the app.

“We are bringing an emerging technology to an industry that has been relatively slow to change and adapt. We are disrupting processes that have been in place for decades in order to help the parts distribution industry address changing customer tastes and expectations,” says Jewel Burks, CEO at Partpic.

Sheila Kennedy is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics.Sheila Kennedy is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics. She established Additive Communications in 2003 to serve software, technology, and service providers in industries such as manufacturing and utilities, and became a contributing editor and Technology Toolbox columnist for Plant Services in 2004. Prior to Additive Communications, she had 11 years of experience implementing industrial information systems. Kennedy earned her B.S. at Purdue University and her MBA at the University of Phoenix. She can be reached at

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Robotic sewing

Garment manufacturing’s labor-intensive nature contributed to the industry’s decline in the United States, but new technologies aim to reverse that trend. High-speed machine vision systems and material handling and manipulation systems being developed by SoftWear Automation are automating the sewing process. Sewing machines with the company’s patented ThreadCount Technology are intended to operate without a human operator. A Cartesian coordinate robot transfer device, branded LOWRY, transfers fabric and garment parts into the automated sewing operation.

“The LOWRY robot, operating in a 24/5 plant environment, can pay for itself in under 12 months,” says William Lockhart, CEO at SoftWear Automation. “It is a key differentiator in production costs because it allows domestic manufacturers to match the offshore cost of sewing a pair of basic blue jeans, which is $1. It will no longer be necessary to cut the fabric components in the United States and ship them offshore to be stitched together.”

Big data mapping

Providing simple visual maps from large data sets is made easier with MapLarge’s big data visualization and analytics mapping technology. It is designed for organizations needing real-time geospatial business intelligence, for instance, global oil and gas companies managing distributed leases, wells, pipelines, facilities, and retail outlets. From any Web browser, users of the elastic, cloud-based geospatial platform can scale billions of location events and trillions of historical events in seconds. MapLarge also supports network graph analysis for fleet routing, travel directions, closest facility, and service area.

Fleet tracking telematics

A new GPS-based fleet tracking and management solution is currently available from NexTraq. Suitable for fleets of any size, the cloud-based system delivers real-time fleet data and metrics to any device with an Internet browser. It provides visibility into asset and equipment locations, job scheduling, driver behavior, fuel consumption, and maintenance schedules. With NexTraq, companies can drive operational improvements such as reduced fuel costs and increased mobile workforce safety and productivity.

Renewable power

Ted Turner, chairman of Turner Enterprises and founder of CNN and Turner Broadcasting, was inducted into the Technology Hall of Fame of Georgia at the Summit. "No one has done more to raise the visibility and success of Georgia's innovation industry than Ted Turner," says TAG’s Mantella.

One of Turner’s current missions is the advancement of renewable energy, including solar, wind, and geothermal, which he considers an environmental imperative, as well as a prudent financial decision. Turner Renewable Energy is an active investor in the technology. For example, the Luckie Street Solar Project, which is helping to power the nine-story Turner Building in downtown Atlanta, is the largest installation of its kind in the area. Turner Renewable Energy, in partnership with Southern Company, has been acquiring large-scale solar facilities across the United States.

“I think we need to move away from fossil fuel because of the emission problem,” says Turner. “Our No. 1 priority right now is to move away from fossil fuels to modern, clean, renewable energy.”

Read Sheila Kennedy's monthly column, Technology Toolbox.