Industry 4.0: Develop ideas and implement solutions together

Dr. Steffen Haack, Member of the Executive Board responsible for the Business Unit Industrial Applications and Coordination Sales of the Bosch Rexroth AG

The development towards Industry 4.0 is currently progressing rapidly. Next to drive and control technology, hydraulics, the second important drive technology, is increasingly meeting the requirements to be capable of integration. Rexroth has electrified hydraulic actuators and power units and equipped them with their own intelligence.

However, treating Industry 4.0 only as a technical subject is short-sighted. Once the technical requirements are met, it is important to use it to develop new ideas and business models. In this context, Bosch Rexroth is getting involved across the Industry 4.0 workgroups. For example in Germany with the technology network it’s OWL (intelligent technical systems OstWestfalenLippe) or the SmartFactoryKL or with the Industrial Internet Consortium in the US. Bosch Rexroth emphasizes two subjects here: On the one hand, it's about the evolutionary development of automation, especially through open interfaces and common standards, on the other hand, such discussions create ideas for revolutionary production processes and business models.

As lead operator of Industry 4.0, we are also exploring further potential in numerous pilot projects in our own plants. In doing so, we are employing all drive and control technology products capable of integration and are collecting valuable application experience. For example with an integrated assembly line for the wide-ranging production at the Bosch Rexroth plant in Homburg: Based on standard hard and software from the Rexroth portfolio, decentralized intelligent assembly stations are integrated in the company IT via RFID tags. This has reduced the workload for associates by creating individually tailored work instructions and has already increased productivity by 10 percent. Moreover, based on these experiences, new software features have been created which now benefit all users.

The experience with these pilot projects shows that the transition to industry 4.0 does not happen all at once. In fact, we see the most progress where quickly manageable changes are being implemented. This could be a single decentralized intelligent station where the user collects experience and builds on this to convert other stations. This could also be the first application of condition monitoring for individual axes in order to develop anticipating maintenance for the entire machinery.

The technological basis for Industry 4.0 has been broadened tremendously over the past three years, and the evolution continues. Integrating production can only succeed if end users, machinery manufacturers, science, and automation manufacturers implement it in small but quick steps.


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