Hands collaborating on puzzle
Hands collaborating on puzzle

More collaboration, more innovation

In September, we celebrated the official opening of the second building at our Customer and Innovation Center in Ulm. We’ve been making good use of these facilities and the opportunity they provide for different departments to collaborate and create new innovations that will transform your world.

Anyone who visits our Customer and Innovation Center at the moment cannot fail to pick up on the bustling atmosphere. It may only be two months since the second building and TechPark were unveiled, but for the last two years we’ve been working at this location, pressing ahead with strategic forward-looking topics and developing ideas for new business models that will benefit you.

One such example is Smart MechatroniX, a new solution platform for factory automation. We realized early on that smarter, more flexible, connected software-based solutions are what’s needed to make the Factory of the Future a reality. And ideally these solutions should be available from one source. Talking to our customers reinforced this view and gave us confidence that the market need was there.

High-speed development

So, in 2019 we set-up an intensive four-week task force in Ulm – and from this, the vision behind Smart MechatroniX was born. It combines the basic components of linear motion technology with sensors, automation and software and therefore manages to create brand new solutions for the Factory of the Future. Every product from the Smart MechatroniX solution platform fulfills three key value propositions for our customers: fast and intuitive commissioning, increased productivity and degree of automation, as well as open interfaces.

Smart MechatroniX in Model Factory

With the idea and strategy in place, the speed of development was critical. The team from Bosch Rexroth’s Linear Motion Technology business worked eagerly on the new product ideas for the remainder of 2019, then in 2020 the sub system’s Smart Function Kit for pressing and joining applications was established in the market.

We’ve received excellent customer feedback that confirms we’re on the right track.

Simon Hertenberger

Head of the Smart MechatroniX product division

With such an enthusiastic customer response to these initial products, the Smart MechatroniX team was keen to create more versatile innovations that can be used in a variety of different ways in factory automation. A second solution package for handling was launched recently. Simon Hertenberger and his team are now working hard on the development of a third version for dispensing, which they plan to make available to customers in 2022.

First product developed from scratch at the new center

Another new product, the Smart Flex Effector, is not only an exciting new innovation – it’s a landmark development for us, being the first solution that we’ve created from start to finish at the new Customer and Innovation Center in Ulm. Changing the world of handling isn’t an easy task, so we decided to start from a blank page and spoke with industrial partners and customers to create something completely different.

Smart Flex Effector

The result is the Smart Flex Effector, a sensor-based compensation unit for robotic arms, which increases the precision of articulated as well as cartesian robots (multi-axis systems). The position of the workpiece is detected with high-resolution sensors and translated into active correction movements of the robot. Thanks to the smart connection, the adjustment is carried out in real time. This tactile technology has multiple benefits for customers – it reduces errors, simplifies and speeds up processes, and therefore saves time and cost.

One of the benefits of being part of the wider Bosch Group is that we have strong support and expert know-how available in all fields when we’re working on new developments.

Simon Hertenberger

Head of the Smart MechatroniX product division

In this instance, we were able to carry out a practical test of an example application at Bosch. Refrigerator glass shelves are currently inserted manually, as robots don’t yet have the required sensitivity to tell whether a shelf is sitting right, and this can result in shelves getting scratched. The Smart Flex Effector makes the robotic arm more flexible and improves its sensors, so that adjustments can be made.

The refrigerator is just one of many examples of how this new product could significantly increase the degree of automation in the future. Other use cases include battery manufacturing, installations and cable assembly, but the possibilities are extensive.

Collaboration is key

The Smart MechatroniX team is not only breaking new ground in terms of product – its approach in terms of work culture is also an important part of this project’s success. Working with other departments within Bosch Rexroth and other businesses in the wider Bosch Group gives us a significant advantage, so it’s something we do as a matter of course. But in addition to this, a new team spirit has emerged that fosters motivation and creativity among associates. At our Customer and Innovation Center, we’re implementing flat hierarchies, which encourages a culture where people can be open about failure, be encouraged to contribute ideas and take on more responsibility. This in turn creates a culture that is conducive to innovation.

Bosch Rexroth collleagues with Smart MechatroniX

It’s not only our associates in Ulm who are convinced that this approach works. Ultimately, it’s about creating new products that will solve our customers’ challenges.

An unbiased perspective and a willingness to break new ground are required. Feedback from customers is even more important than approval.

Simon Hertenberger

Head of the Smart MechatroniX product division

With regard to the Smart Flex Effector, the team are delighted that there’s been a lot of interest from customers who have provided consistently positive feedback. “This is a good example of how beneficial collaboration is and also how important it is to get the early involvement of our customers when we’re developing new innovations”, concludes Simon Hertenberger.

Simon Hertenberger

Simon Hertenberger, Head of the Smart MechatroniX product division

Find out more about Smart MechatroniX