, 2017-09-08

The factory of the future creates added value through flexibility and agility

Dr. Heiner Lang, Senior Vice President Business Unit Automation & Electrification Solutions, Bosch Rexroth AG

The software industry started to abandon its old business model a few years ago. While it used to sell programs on CDs, today IT providers from Adobe to SAP rely on subscription models with regular licensing income. Even in the automotive industry, the most important consumer sector for machine tools, a similar change is in the offing. If you speak to automobile companies about the future, they increasingly see themselves less as pure car manufacturers who sell their products to the same drivers over and over again. Additionally, they want to establish themselves with car sharing models as mobility providers who also operate vehicles themselves. As a result, series sizes will be considerably smaller – with significant effects on future production environments as well. There will be even greater demands on adaptability than previously, especially since product lifecycles will be shortened and quantities will decrease even more.

This development, which cannot be planned in advance in the usual scale, will require considerably more flexibility and agility in manufacturing and can only be realized by separating hardware and software in automation. Bosch Rexroth AG promotes this development primarily with a broad product spectrum from sensors to drive and control technology to software solutions. All modules, software packages and services first have to prove themselves in our plants. After four years of implementation experience with Industry 4.0, three important insights have emerged for us which we use as the basis for developing our automation solutions for the factory of the future:

Firstly: the only immovable elements in the factory of the future will be the four walls, the roof and the hall floor. Everything else will be changeable and mobile and will have its own decentralized intelligence. The concept of distributed intelligence will be more prominent than in all previous drive technologies, even in electrified hydraulics and mechanics.

Secondly: distributed intelligence and connectivity via open standards are inextricably intertwined. Open communication profiles and standardized interfaces form the framework for cross-vendor communication between components and machines within manufacturing. Moreover, controls will need to be programmable in all established high-level languages in the future. This is why manufacturers and operators implement their proprietary technology solutions economically and quickly and provide an optimal product that has been adapted to its requirements.

Thirdly: flexibility and agility in manufacturing must also be possible with today's already installed foundation. Here, retrofit solutions that come up with their own control intelligence and sensors and that integrate themselves with added value into the higher-level machine control will come out on top.

The distributed drive and control architecture with continuous connectivity enables the factory of the future to manufacture flexibly in an agile and contemporary way. Components with their own drive and control integrate into the production network, communicate with and learn from partners in order to achieve optimized operating conditions. They deliver valuable data for future status diagnosis for the preventative maintenance of all machines involved in manufacturing and independently improve their machine availability. In many industries, only those manufacturers who master their manufacturing costs, short delivery times and quality even in batch size one, in line with the factory of the future, will be successful.


More information about Bosch Rexroth under:

Bosch Rexroth at EMO 2017: Hall 25, Booth D94


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Susanne Herzlieb
Maria-Theresien-Straße 23
97816 Lohr am Main
Phone: +49 9352 18-1573

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