Gasoline injection, ABS, ESP, sensors Examples of outstanding Bosch innovations Thirteen exceptional achievements from more than 100 years

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  • October 09, 2015
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Stuttgart and Renningen, Germany – In mid-October, Bosch will be opening its new research campus in Renningen, near Stuttgart. The company has invested more than 300 million euros in the site, and created 1,700 jobs in a modern and inspiring environment. Bosch research and development is not only concerned with innovative products, however, but also with continuously refining manufacturing processes. In this way, the company has come up with many innovations since it was set up in 1886. A selection of some of them is presented here:

1902: high-voltage magneto ignition system with spark plug
In the summer of 1901, Robert Bosch gave his colleague Gottlob Honold the brief of designing a magneto ignition system without the breakdown-prone break-spark rodding generally in use at that time. After just a few months, Honold presented his high-voltage magneto ignition system, based on what was known as electric arc ignition. By means of two coils on the armature, it generated a high-voltage current. This was conducted to a spark plug via a simple cable connection. The spark jumped the gap between its electrodes. This historic invention has shaped automotive design to this very day. No spark-ignition engine would run without an ignition system. Over the course of the decades, Bosch has refined ignition systems. Its Gasoline Systems division now manufactures modern ignition systems for a global market. In this way, Bosch plays a significant role in meeting legal emissions limits and fuel-efficiency targets, thus protecting the climate.

1927: diesel injection system for commercial vehicles
Around 1920, experts were vaunting the diesel engine as the powertrain of the future. Bosch was quick to latch on to this trend: diesel engines did not require any electric ignition, which was Bosch’s most important product at the time. This jeopardized the company’s existence. In 1922, therefore, Bosch began developing injection pumps for diesel engines. The first diesel truck was rolled out in Germany in 1924, enabling engineers to test the new pumps under normal driving conditions. Bosch started production of in-line pumps and injection nozzles for trucks on November 30, 1927. Nowadays, modern diesel injection systems are indispensable in trucks. Nearly 100 percent of all trucks worldwide are powered by diesel. In the passenger car segment in Europe, this figure is some 50 percent of all newly registered vehicles. With its highly efficient common-rail systems, Bosch is one of the world’s leading suppliers of diesel injection systems.

1932: Bosch hand motor and Bosch hammer drill with impact mechanism
In 1930, Bosch engineers began developing hand-held tools for use in manufacturing. Their design was based on a hair trimmer. Featuring an integrated motor, the Bosch power tools could be flexibly put to use in production processes. They proved to be particularly useful in the production of diesel injection pumps. The company recognized the tools’ market potential, and from 1932 sold them to builders and tradespeople as well. The same year also saw the market launch of the Bosch hammer drill. The “Bosch hammer” was the forerunner of the company’s heavy electric hammer drills used in the construction industry. Its impact mechanism, which the company developed and mass produced, proved its superiority over other designs in heavy continuous operation, and was soon in use worldwide. Today, the Bosch Group’s Power Tools division is the global market leader for power tools, power-tool accessories, and measuring technology. And in 2015 as well, Power Tools will again launch more than 100 new products in its four areas of business: power tools, accessories, measuring technology, and garden tools.

1933: first refrigerator
In 1933, Bosch built the first refrigerator designed to be affordable for the general public. There were already electric refrigerators in the market, but they were so expensive that only wealthy people or businesses (e.g. grocery stores and restaurants) could afford them. The Bosch refrigerator cost 298 reichsmarks, which was far less expensive than the other popular models of the time. Today, Bosch is Europe’s most popular household-appliance brand, and continues to set trends worldwide – for example, with a connected fridge featuring integrated cameras which allow shoppers to check online whether there are still tomatoes in the fridge.

1953: hydraulic plow lift
In Europe at the start of the 1950s, farming still involved a lot of manual work. Any technology consisted in replacing draught animals with tractors. It was here that Bosch focused its efforts: in what work processes could technology be used to reduce the burden on people? The first thing Bosch came up with was a plow lift. It used a motor mounted on the tractor to assume the heavy work of lifting and lowering the plow. The basic idea was to connect a hydraulic system comprising pump, oil tank, control unit, cylinder, and pressure lines to the engine. Suddenly, what had been a strenuous task became child’s play. A gentle pull on the control lever was enough. The pump used the power from the engine, transferring it to the work cylinder, which used the pressure lines to determine the position of the plow. Engine oil was used to transmit force in the pressure lines. The plow lift was the birth of mobile hydraulics at Bosch. In 2001, this area was pooled with the competence of the industrial technology company Rexroth. Today, Bosch Rexroth is one of the globally leading suppliers of drive and control technology, helping to move machinery and plant of all sizes.

1967: Jetronic electronic gasoline-injection system
In 1959, Bosch began developing an electronically controlled gasoline injection system. When this system, called Jetronic, was launched in 1967, it was the first mass-produced system of its kind in the world. Nowadays, efficient injection systems are indispensable for modern cars. Bosch’s gasoline direct injection goes from strength to strength.

1978: ABS antilock braking system
The success story of ABS began in 1978 with the start of production of the first electronically controlled four-wheel antilock braking system for passenger cars. It was a development Bosch engineers had been working on for nine years. Their pioneering technical approach formed the basis of all modern braking control systems. If the wheels lock up, ABS reduces brake pressure then increases it again – up to 40 times a second. This keeps braking distances short, even on slippery surfaces, and the vehicle remains steerable. Today, all new cars in the EU are sold with ABS. For motorcycles, the EU has mandated the system for all new type approvals from 2016. Since 1978, more than 190 million ABS systems have been manufactured at Bosch.

1985: Junkers/Bosch combined heating and hot water boiler with condensing technology
The most important heating technology innovation of the 1980s was the introduction of the wall-mounted gas-fired condensing boiler in Germany. Hugo Junkers had described the principle behind this technology as early as 1894. The eponymous company he founded was the origin of today’s Bosch Thermotechnology division. The technology reuses the waste heat in exhaust gas. This waste heat is fed back into the heating circuit, thus considerably increasing efficiency without increasing consumption. Condensing technology has become established in many European countries, and will become the de facto standard in the EU from September 2015. Bosch innovations are further increasing the efficiency of heating technology. The “SolarInside” control unit, for example, optimizes the interplay of condensing boiler and solar thermal system. With sales revenue of more than 3 billion euros, Bosch Thermotechnology is a leading European manufacturer of energy-efficient heating products and hot-water solutions.

1995: micromechanical sensors (MEMS) in mass production
In the 1980s, Bosch worked on making sensors smaller, more reliable, and more energy-efficient – ever more sensor data was needed for increasingly sophisticated cars. The previous manufacturing process – called “wet etching” – was no longer suitable for these tiny sensors. A Bosch research team thus invented “plasma etching,” which in the industry is now known as the “Bosch process.” When it started mass production in 1995, Bosch laid the foundation stone for this modern technology. Its current portfolio includes acceleration, yaw, mass-flow, pressure, and environmental sensors, as well as microphones. The company took 13 years to manufacture its first billion MEMS sensors. Nowadays, at its modern wafer fab in Reutlingen, near Stuttgart, the Bosch Automotive Electronics division manufactures the same quantity in less than year. Today, more than four million sensors are manufactured every day. On average, these tiny helpers are between one and four millimeters thick. Bosch is the world’s leading supplier of MEMS sensors.

1995: ESP electronic stability program
Using smart sensors, ESP compares 25 times per second whether the car is actually moving in the direction that the driver is steering it in. If an analysis of these data indicates that a dangerous – and uncontrollable – situation is imminent (e.g. skidding), ESP intervenes immediately. By reducing engine torque and deliberately braking each wheel individually, the system helps the driver stabilize the vehicle and prevent skidding accidents. Since being launched in 1995, ESP has prevented 190,000 accidents and saved more than 6,000 lives across Europe. In Europe, more than 80 percent of all new vehicles are now fitted with this safety system, while the worldwide figure is some 60 percent. Bosch is the world’s leading supplier, and celebrates a milestone this year: it will soon have sold 150 million ESP systems since production began 20 years ago.

2008: ultrashort pulse lasers used in production
Using precisely controlled, ultrashort laser pulses, extremely hard materials can be very accurately machined. Bosch has been driving forward development in this area for many years, and together with several partners in industry and academia, succeeded in making this technology market-ready. Finally, Bosch succeeded in achieving a world first – namely, operating the laser in the machines it developed in-house so precisely that reliable mass production was possible, with all the associated benefits. This technology was put to initial use in the manufacture of lambda sensors. Today, one of the ways Bosch uses ultrashort laser pulses is to drill the extremely fine nozzles in the injection valves of its gasoline direct injection system. This allows fuel to be distributed even better in the combustion chamber. The result is a fuel saving of as much as 20 percent in gasoline engines, and lower emissions.

2015: smart mowing 2.0 with the Indego 1 200 Connect
The unique, tried-and-tested “LogiCut” navigation system ensures that the Indego 1 200 Connect robotic lawnmower mows efficiently along parallel lines. This enables it to mow the same lawn area at least 30 percent faster than robotic lawnmowers that mow at random. Using a smartphone app, the lawnmower can be simply and conveniently operated from anywhere. The app computes the best time for the next cut. To do so, it uses a complex algorithm as well as information about environmental conditions such as temperature and precipitation. Using this web-based weather forecast, Indego Connect mows the lawn when the conditions are right: not too hot, not too wet, and not too cold.

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The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 375,000 associates worldwide (as of December 31, 2015). The company generated sales of 70.6 billion euros in 2015. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 440 subsidiaries and regional companies in some 60 countries. Including sales and service partners, Bosch’s global manufacturing and sales network covers some 150 countries. The basis for the company’s future growth is its innovative strength. Bosch employs 55,800 associates in research and development at 118 locations across the globe. The Bosch Group’s strategic objective is to deliver innovations for a connected life. Bosch improves quality of life worldwide with products and services that are innovative and spark enthusiasm. In short, Bosch creates technology that is “Invented for life.”

The company was set up in Stuttgart in 1886 by Robert Bosch (1861-1942) as “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering.” The special ownership structure of Robert Bosch GmbH guarantees the entrepreneurial freedom of the Bosch Group, making it possible for the company to plan over the long term and to undertake significant up-front investments in the safeguarding of its future. Ninety-two percent of the share capital of Robert Bosch GmbH is held by Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, a charitable foundation. The majority of voting rights are held by Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG, an industrial trust. The entrepreneurial ownership functions are carried out by the trust. The remaining shares are held by the Bosch family and by Robert Bosch GmbH.

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PI9036 - October 09, 2015

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