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Marginal Column

Apply internationally, adapt locally


March 2016


On the way to Industry 4.0, Bosch Rexroth is collecting valuable practical experience via the application at its own plants around the world. The goal: the networked Smart Factory.

In a first step, Bosch Rexroth has demonstrated how work at the Smart Factory with the multi-product line could look in the future. But Industry 4.0 won’t happen overnight. It is an evolutionary process, evolving piece by piece. “Through the application in our own factories, we are learning very quickly and can take the next steps”, explains Dr. Steffen Haack, member of the Bosch Rexroth Executive Board. What has proven itself in the multi-product line in Homburg, is currently being implemented in Chinese plants, for example in Wujin, in similar form, but adapted to the local requirements. The factory in Xi’an is also getting ready to become a Smart Factory. There RFID tags are already the basis for the servicing of frequency converters. Error recognition is thus possible via app and remote services.

Also very active is the factory in the US city of Bethlehem. With QR codes and the ActiveCockpit from Rexroth, transparency features very prominently there. The management in Bethlehem is also driving the development of the factory of the future. The course for the next steps is set out in a four-year plan. In the electronics factory in Lohr, the vertical integration of the ERP system via MES and MAE modules has already been implemented. This allows real-time condition monitoring of production stations and tools, preventive maintenance and fast remote service.

In addition to remote maintenance made possible by access to data, engineers from Bosch Rexroth have already piloted Smart Glasses to assist employees in service activities. In Mellansel, Sweden, the company manufactures, among other things, large hydraulic drives for conveyor belts, paper mills and the helms of large ships. Whenever these heavy engines, which are used worldwide, require servicing, the engineers rely on augmented reality, and hence, on Smart Glasses. Here’s one example: The service technician puts on the glasses in front of a machine at the customer’s site. The image is also visible on a computer at Bosch Rexroth in Mellansel, where an expert for the respective machine is sitting. The expert’s hands are filmed by a stereo video camera above the monitor and then transmitted in turn to the customer. They appear on the technician’s Smart Glasses and thus directly in the machine.

In addition, there is also voice transmission. “We don’t need very much bandwidth in order to transfer this data. All we need is a 3G mobile connection”, says Anders Palm, Project Manager of Industry 4.0 projects in Mellansel. Together, the two employees can get the job done, although they are perhaps thousands of miles apart. “The system has several advantages. The customer gets quick service. And we save time and money on travel expenses. In addition, our experts in Mellansel can be very well utilized thanks to the Smart Glasses”, says Palm.

These projects for our own manufacturing are one thing. But moreover, the experts from Bosch Rexroth around the world are involved in committees to establish standards and initiatives to promote the concept of Industry 4.0. One example is the commitment to the technology initiative SmartFactory KL e.V. at the University of Kaiserslautern under the leadership of Professor Detlef Zühlke.