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Eric Huston joined GTI Spindle Technology’s leadership team as a vice president and chief operating officer of the GTI Predictive Technology subsidiary to aid in the evolution of the Spindle and Predictive brands. He answered a variety of our questions about the future of the industrial space in light of his new responsibilities.

At GTI Spindle, Huston will drive the development and launch of subscription-based business solutions for machine tool spindle repair enabled through digital transformation. At GTI Predictive, Huston provides leadership and focus encompassing the whole value chain with emphasis on customer excellence, sales, marketing, business and product development.

“Eric’s track record of developing leading-edge solutions while remaining passionate about customer success is paramount to helping us achieve our strategic goals,” says Tom Hoenig, president.

“I am excited to join the leadership team of GTI Spindle Technology as we embark on the development of new go-to-market approaches for machine tool spindle repair business through implementation of servitization, digitalization and outcome-based business models," states Huston.

Earlier in his career, Huston gained extensive experience in industrial aftermarket services and digital transformation in both domestic and international markets. He has an affinity for the influence and contribution of precision maintenance, proactive reliability, energy efficiency and environmental management upon the profitable growth and sustainability of industrial facilities and fleets.

Prior to GTI, Huston held executive positions with increasing responsibility at Schaeffler, SKF and Honeywell (Measurex) after starting his career as a maintenance engineer with International Paper (Champion International).

Huston holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Maine. He is a member of several professional organizations, having served as vice chair of the Manufacturing Technical Group and as chair of the Plant Engineering and Maintenance Division for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). He is currently a member of the Best Practices and Benchmarking Committee for the Society of Reliability and Maintenance Professionals (SMRP).

Huston is a certified maintenance and reliability professional (CMRP), and a former certified energy manager (CEM) through the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE).

Q: What are three key things that a machine builder, system integrator or manufacturer should know about your company?

Eric Huston, vice president, GTI Spindle; chief operating officer, GTI Predictive: GTI Spindle Technology has been dedicated to fulfilling one specific mission: to provide our clients with the highest quality and most extensive range of machine tool spindle repair services and new spindle applications with unsurpassed customer service.

As part of this mission, the GTI Predictive Technology subsidiary was developed by taking advantage of technological advances to bring the industrial reliability maintenance community powerful, affordable and industry-changing solutions.

Through integration of our general machinery knowledge, and more specifically our in-depth machine tool spindle knowledge, our predictive technologies and repair services, GTI is well-equipped to lead the market development of outcome-based business models in support of customers who are looking for a supplier to take more responsibility and create additional value.

Q: What new technologies are driving your product development and why?

Eric Huston, vice president, GTI Spindle; chief operating officer, GTI Predictive: GTI Predictive Technology utilizes one of the most powerful platforms available today and leverages that with a friendly user interface. Apple’s iOS and iPad platform allows GTI to use the best technology combined with economy-of-scale benefits to provide an amazing predictive maintenance solution. We further enable our technology using wireless communications, low-power consumption electronics and a variety of measurement technologies. We use this approach to identify the best approach at optimal cost to identify and follow machinery faults along the P-F (potential-failure through failed-to-function) curve based on asset criticality.

Q: How does the Industrial Internet of Things figure in your business strategy?

Eric Huston, vice president, GTI Spindle; chief operating officer, GTI Predictive: GTI Predictive Technology offers a product family that combines vibration data collection and analysis with balancing, shaft alignment, thermography and ultrasound into one affordable and scalable solution on one simple-to-use Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platform. The use of IIoT is important to GTI for improved demand response and thus increased customer satisfaction—Supply Chain 4.0—especially as we adapt to requests to support outcome-based business models.

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Q: How will machine automation and controls alter the way companies staff their operations in the future?

Eric Huston, vice president, GTI Spindle; chief operating officer, GTI Predictive: There will be a continued trend for increased use of automation, in part driven by digital transformation but more importantly due to the innovations required to operate during a pandemic as we all are experiencing. Remote work is just one example where staffing may not change significantly but rather the location of where personnel work changes. As closed-loop automation—cobots, robots—plays a greater role in operations, the role of staffing will shift to the oversight and management of these technologies. There is hope that this will not significantly impact staffing levels, but certainly the required skillset of staffing will change as we move forward.

Q: How is the development of software solutions impacting your requirements for hardware?

Eric Huston, vice president, GTI Spindle; chief operating officer, GTI Predictive: Due to the increasing commoditization and transfer of technology from the retail consumer space, we are seeing a “race to the bottom” on the pricing of hardware sensing technology albeit with some significant compromises in the fidelity of data—vibration measurements. Nonetheless, the lower price points on hardware opens new market opportunities, as well as increased propagation of new analytical techniques to decipher increased amounts of data. For example, what we have been calling “predictive” from a machinery health perspective by analyzing high frequency time waveforms and FFT spectra for many years is now also referred to as “predictive” when alternatively using event anomaly detection, artificial intelligence and machine-learning techniques. Technically, these are different approaches aimed at similar if not common outcomes. Still, at the end of the day the fundamentals remain. Bad inputs will not create good outputs—that is, how we see the requirements of hardware on our software development.

Q: As engineering and IT continue their convergence, which one is and/or will be leading the direction of future automation and technology at your organization?

Eric Huston, vice president, GTI Spindle; chief operating officer, GTI Predictive: From my perspective, it is not about who leads but rather the teamwork and collaboration. I like your use of the term convergence in this regard. In my experience, IT delivers the highest value when they are integrally involved and helping those in product development, operations and maintenance achieve the overall business goals.

Q: Looking into the future, how will technology change your company over the next five years?

Eric Huston, vice president, GTI Spindle; chief operating officer, GTI Predictive: In our manufacturing industry, the future trend is moving toward a subscription-based economy where suppliers are compelled to take more responsibility for their customers’ business outcomes—pay-per-use, pay-per-output. The management of risk, and of reward, for this increased responsibility is highly dependent on the increased use of digitalization—technology—supported by servitization—knowledge and knowledgeable people.

About the Author

Mike Bacidore | Editor in Chief

Mike Bacidore is chief editor of Control Design and has been an integral part of the Endeavor Business Media editorial team since 2007. Previously, he was editorial director at Hughes Communications and a portfolio manager of the human resources and labor law areas at Wolters Kluwer. Bacidore holds a BA from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He is an award-winning columnist, earning multiple regional and national awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He may be reached at [email protected]