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Industry 4.0, data mining, metal 3D printing Working on tomorrow’s world: researchers at Bosch Innovative products and new manufacturing processes

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  • October 14, 2015
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Stuttgart and Renningen, Germany – Bosch has invested more than 300 million euros in its new research campus in Renningen, near Stuttgart, and created workplaces in a modern and inspiring environment for 1,700 people. Bosch is not only working on innovative products, however, but also on continuously refining manufacturing processes. These are just some of the scientists working there:

Dr. Lothar Baum: Data mining
The computer scientist Dr. Lothar Baum is an expert in data evaluation. Baum, who joined Bosch in 2006, works in corporate research and advance engineering. Together with colleagues in Renningen, Palo Alto, and Bangalore, he writes software that detects patterns in billions of data points. This includes data generated on production lines at more than 250 Bosch plants worldwide. Super-fast computers are used to analyze this data. If this analysis is done properly, quality can be assured and the process of monitoring workpieces speeded up – saving time and money. “The ability to generate new knowledge from big data is a key competence of the future,” Baum says. In connected industry – also referred to as Industry 4.0 – this data also helps predict when machinery will need maintenance, which avoids downtimes.

Press photos: 1-CR-21636, 1-CR-21637, 1-CR-21638, 1-CR-21639, 1-CR-21640, 1-CR-21641, 1-CR-21642, 1-CR-21643

Torsten Reinhardt: Physical analytics, analysis of functional materials
Torsten Reinhardt has been with Bosch since 2000. One of his tasks in corporate research and advance engineering is to study the inner structure of materials. This means Reinhardt plays a part in ensuring the high quality of new Bosch developments right from the start. In the analytics department, one of his tasks is to make extremely thin cut marks in materials in order to study them under the electron microscope for possible weaknesses. He does this by directing a focused ion beam at the sample in order to ablate certain parts of it. In this way, structures in the sample can be exposed and analyzed at very high resolution. This kind of analysis is accurate to within nanometers (millionths of a millimeter).

Press photos: 1-CR-21695, 1-CR-21696, 1-CR-21697, 1-CR-21698

Dr. Witold Pieper: Metallic functional and composite materials
Dr. Witold Pieper’s work involves exploring new materials for use throughout the Bosch Group. This means that he collaborates closely with many scientists and suppliers. As a physicist who specializes in materials science, his work also includes the analysis of various magnetic materials. “These include metals and ceramics, such as magnets that are based on rare earths,” Pieper says. His team also tests whether it is possible to use new methods such as 3D printing to turn such materials into products with completely new characteristics. In addition, the department provides advice to Bosch colleagues around the world. The data gathered in Pieper’s labs serve as the foundation for computer simulations of materials. Pieper has been with Bosch since 2011.

Press photos: 1-CR-21699, 1-CR-21700, 1-CR-21701

Joachim Frangen: Manufacturing automation, Industry 4.0
In Renningen, Joachim Frangen heads up work on the connected and flexible factories of the future. Collectively, these factories are also referred to as “Industry 4.0.” By connecting people, machines, and materials, a virtual image of the manufacturing process can be generated on the computer – in real time. This combines several advantages. For instance, sensors are constantly gathering and transmitting data on the status of machinery. This data is analyzed by software to detect wear and tear, which means maintenance can be planned in good time. As a result, Bosch can prevent unexpected machine downtimes. Connectivity also facilitates the optimum use of resources such as energy and raw materials. One further advantage is that lines can be adjusted more quickly to new products. For Bosch, this means both improved customer focus and greater competitiveness. Frangen has been with Bosch since 1990.

Press photos: 1-CR-21702, 1-CR-21703, 1-CR-21704, 1-CR-21705

Dr. Martin Schöpf: Manufacturing technology for metals, metal 3D printing
One of the promising areas of Bosch research is metal 3D printing. This area is the responsibility of Dr. Martin Schöpf. Methods such as this open up many new possibilities: instead of keeping large, costly inventories of spare parts, metal parts can be printed as and where needed. In the future, 3D printing is also set to play a role in production processes. This will enable Bosch to bring new products to market more quickly – a major advantage. “What is more, it means we can produce new shapes in metal that are simply not possible with existing processes,” says Schöpf, who has been with Bosch since 2003. Moreover, 3D printing can result in a single piece where once separate components were necessary – saving on joining times and sidestepping the need for seals.

Press photos: 1-CR-21706, 1-CR-21707

Dr. Andreas Michalowski: Laser materials processing
The focused energy of laser beams can work even the hardest materials – precisely and fast. This is Dr. Andreas Michalowski’s area of expertise. It includes controlling physical effects well enough to make the laser suitable for use in industry. Only then will it be possible to process any material precisely on a mass scale, and this in an economical way. One application for this at Bosch is in gasoline direct injection: using lasers, tiny holes can be drilled precisely into the metal of the nozzle. The result is ideal distribution of the injected fuel within the cylinder. Michalowski joined Bosch in 2011 and collaborates with an international network of experts from science and industry. With the number of possible applications for laser technology growing fast, there will be plenty for this passionate researcher to do for a long time to come. In 2013, Bosch, Trumpf, and the University of Jena won the German Federal President’s Future Prize for technology and innovation for this technology.

Presse photos: 1-CR-21708, 1-CR-21709, 1-CR-21710, 1-CR-21711

Dr. Thorsten Ochs: Battery technology
Bosch is researching batteries that will increase electric cars’ range while at the same time weighing a lot less and costing less than current batteries. In this way, Dr. Thorsten Ochs in Renningen is playing a crucial role in the breakthrough of electromobility. “To achieve widespread acceptance of electromobility, mid-sized vehicles need to have 50 kilowatt hours of usable energy,” says Ochs, who joined Bosch in 2000. With conventional lead batteries, this would mean increasing the weight of the battery to 1.9 metric tons, even without wiring and the holder. That is the same weight as a modern-day mid-sized sedan, including occupants and luggage. Weighing 19 kilograms, a conventional lead battery – as found today in nearly every car – stores a comparatively low 0.5 kilowatt hours. In contrast, Ochs is looking to store the necessary 50 kilowatt hours in a battery weighing just 190 kilograms.

Press photos: 1-CR-21622, 1-CR-21623, 1-CR-21624, 1-CR-21625-en,
1-CR-21625-o-Logo-en

Dr. Franz Lärmer: Microsystems (MEMS) technology
Tiny Bosch sensors are changing the way people interact with technology. In fitness wristbands, they measure physical activity and help people achieve better health and well-being. In cars, these microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) sensors identify dangerous situations and instantly alert the control electronic to keep the vehicle on the road. And because sensors measure the earth’s gravity, smartphones can change their screen orientation to suit the user. Dr. Franz Lärmer has been with Bosch since 1990. He is one of the inventors of the method that makes it possible to create the microscopically fine structures found in MEMS sensors. Speaking about his objectives, Lärmer says: “One of the challenges in the ongoing development of our MEMS sensors is their energy consumption. For example, more intelligence in sensors makes it possible for us to reduce energy consumption.” In 2008, Bosch won the German Federal President’s Future Prize for technology and innovation for these smart sensors.

Press photos: 1-BST-20778, 1-BST-20779, 1-AE-20855, 1-AE-20856-e, 1-BST-20755, 1-CR-21650, 1-CR-21651, 1-CR-21652, 1-CR-21653, 1-CR-21654-en, 1-CR-21654_o_Logo-en

Jayalakshmi Kedarisetti: Power electronics
Electromobility is a major topic for Bosch, and thus occupies a prominent place on the new research campus in Renningen. Jayalakshmi Kedarisetti has been working in this field since 2012, developing the necessary new power electronics. These are a central element of electric cars. Power electronics convert the direct current provided by the battery into alternating current to drive the electric car’s motor. They must also convert the alternating current that comes from a power socket into direct current to charge the battery. And all this needs to be done keeping power loss as low as possible. At the same time, these components have to cope with high operating voltages and strong currents while always satisfying high safety standards. Kedarisetti and his team are coming up with lots of new ideas for how to meet these requirements.

Press photos: 1-CR-21712, 1-CR-21713, 1-CR-21714, 1-CR-21715

Dr. Lutz Bürkle: Driver assistance systems
With their research in Renningen, Dr. Lutz Bürkle and his team help improve pedestrian safety. If braking alone is no longer enough to prevent a collision with a pedestrian who suddenly walks out in front of the car, the assistant developed by Bürkle’s team instantaneously computes an evasive maneuver. As soon as the driver starts to steer, the system kicks in to support the lifesaving action. The team’s work focuses on developing the algorithms this requires. “According to our studies, the assistance system can help avoid a collision in 60 percent of cases, provided the driver reacts at least half a second beforehand,” says Bürkle, who joined Bosch in 2002. Bosch plans to start production of the system in 2018.

Press photos: 1-CR-21644, 1-CR-21645, 1-CR-21646, 1-CR-21647, 1-CR-21648, 1-CR-21649-en, 1-CR-21649_o_Logo-en

Professor Dr. Amos Albert: Agricultural robotics
Professor Amos Albert teaches robots eco-friendly farming. “We use Bosch expertise in the fields of mechatronics and algorithms to help make sustainable use of natural resources,” says Albert, who is CEO of Deepfield Robotics, a Bosch start-up that emerged from the company’s research activities. “One thing our technologies do is enable the Bonirob agricultural robot to distinguish between crops and weeds,” Albert says. On the basis of this knowledge, the robot uses a rod to ram unwanted weeds several centimeters into the ground. This obviates the need for herbicides. Thanks to GPS positioning, Bonirob can find its way around to the nearest centimeter. Albert has been with Bosch since 2002. His team is also working on solutions that will allow farmers to use connected sensor systems to gather information on plant growth in order to improve yield and quality.

Press photos: 1-CR-21626, 1-CR-21627, 1-CR-21628, 1-CR-21629, 1-CR-21630, 1-CR-21631, 1-CR-21632, 1-CR-21633, 1-CR-21634, 1-CR-21635-en, 1-CR-21635_o_Logo-en

Dr. Jürgen Kirschner: Executive vice president, applied research and production technology
Dr. Jürgen Kirschner is an executive vice president in corporate research and advance engineering at Bosch. His responsibilities range from battery technology and sensors to production engineering. In its more than 250 plants worldwide, Bosch often needs to use tools and methods that are not yet commercially available. “In those cases we develop them ourselves, which gives us a competitive edge,” says Kirschner, who has held a number of positions at Bosch since 1989. One such novel tool is ultrashort pulse lasers, which can process even extremely hard metal with the greatest precision and at high speed. One of Kirschner’s responsibilities, therefore, is to ensure that research provides Bosch with the processes and methods it will need for the reliable, high-quality mass production of its future innovative products.

Press photos: 1-PE-21661, 1-PE-21662

Dr. Michael Bolle: President, research and advance engineering, technology coordination
Dr. Michael Bolle is the president of corporate research and advance engineering at Bosch. His responsibilities include developing new ideas for future Bosch products. He also focuses on areas in which the company is as yet barely active, if at all; for example, using robots and sensor systems in agriculture. “For this purpose, we also want our researchers to develop a more entrepreneurial mindset,” Bolle says. He joined Bosch in 1992 and has worked for the company ever since, apart from a four-year period spent getting a startup off the ground. “That experience is a really great advantage here in Renningen,” Bolle says. On the topic of the new research campus, he says: “We want to give our colleagues here the ideal working conditions they need to shape the future of Bosch and secure our innovation leadership.”

Press photos: 1-PE-21659, 1-PE-21660

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Thilo Resenhoeft, phone: +49 711 811-7088

Back to overview

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.

Additional information is available online at www.bosch.com and www.bosch-press.com, http://twitter.com/BoschPresse.

PI9087 - October 14, 2015

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