171: AI and the "Art of the Possible" with Gregory Powers, VP of Cool Stuff at Gray Solutions

AI has been a key part of modern manufacturing for a few years now, and it’s here to stay. But we wouldn’t have it without people like our guest on this episode, who’s not afraid to try new things and take bold leaps into the unknown.

With quite possibly the coolest job title ever, Gregory Powers, the VP of Cool Stuff at Gray Solutions, gives us some backstory on how he got that title and what his role involves. His philosophy leans into the “art of what’s possible,” and this curiosity has shaped his career in new and interesting ways.  

Gregory talks about what it means to guide a team when applying new technologies, particularly AI solutions. We hear how manufacturers can get started with AI, where AI is headed in this industry, and how manufacturers can tell they’re ready for it. He also breaks down his best advice for trying out new technology the right way and what bringing AI in could do for your team (hint – it’s not stealing their jobs!) 


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3 Quick Things from this Episode

  1. Applying AI to manufacturing can create a complete control loop where operators aren’t required to change control systems or equipment or even fix things that are out of spec. The AI handles it instead, freeing those operators for more interesting work. 
  2. To get the most out of AI, start with good data. Feed good data into your AI software and you’ll get better results and an AI that actually integrates with your systems.  
  3. Implementing technology for technology’s sake or because everyone else is doing it is the wrong approach. You need a strong business case to start using new tech like AI. 

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Tweetable Quotes

  • “[With AI], the operators can be more proactive about getting things done outside of the traditional stuff that they’re doing now.” 
  • “I keep telling our customers, get some foundation first on your data, structure it, put in the technology and the infrastructure that you need to set up for that future. If you don’t do that, you’re going to probably struggle. 
  • “Don’t be scared to take a risk on some of this stuff, as long as you’re not losing out on big numbers, then it’s okay to experiment. 

Please Scroll Down for Recommended Resources from this Episode

Do you want to connect with other leaders that are moving the needle in manufacturing everyday? Then make sure to join us in the Manufacturing Happy Hour Industry Community on LinkedIn. 

SwipeGuide is empowering frontline excellence through standard work and skills development. The clear-cut platform lets frontline teams coordinate instructions, checklists, and training to optimize processes. Hear how HEINEKEN is using SwipeGuide in Episode 167. 

EPLAN provides software and service solutions in the fields of electrical engineering, automation, and mechatronics engineering. They’ve developed one of the world’s leading design software solutions for machine, plant, and panel builders, providing data-driven panel design capabilities to manufacturers. Click here to listen to our full interview with EPLAN’s International Solutions Architect Sean Mulherrin. 

What We Discuss with Gregory

  • What a VP of Cool Stuff gets up to and how he came up with his own job title 
  • What it means to guide a team to focus on practical applications of technology 
  • Gregory’s philosophy on “the art of what’s possible” and what it means for him 
  • What it means to apply AI to manufacturing  
  • Why AI could become the future of HMI and other ways it could shape the industry  
  • A practical example of how Gray Solutions is leveraging AI for 3D modeling  
  • How manufacturers can determine whether they’re ready to introduce AI 
  • How Gregory enables his team to try new things and experiment with technology 
  • Gregory’s advice for manufacturing leaders who want to stay focused on outcomes and avoid jumping on the bandwagon of new tech 
  • How AI could free up human workers to focus on “cool stuff” 

Recommended Resources

  • Gray Solutions, a full-service automation, operations, and information systems integrator  

Connect with Gregory and Gray Solutions

LinkedIn | Gregory Powers