Company founder Robert Bosch introduced the suggestions book in 1924
Two associates at Bosch foundry have received the highest possible cash reward of 150,000 euros
Christoph Kübel, Bosch director of industrial relations: “Associates' ideas enhance our innovative strength”
Stuttgart – For 90 years now, Bosch has systematically benefited from its associates' creativity and innovative spirit. In the past ten years in Germany alone, the company has saved some 395 million euros thanks to suggestions for improvement made by its associates. Last year, the global supplier of technology and services paid out 7.7 million euros to associates at locations across Germany in reward for their ideas, which had saved Bosch some 33 million euros. In total, a good 21,900 associates submitted their suggestions, an increase of 2.4 percent over the previous year. In the fall of 1924, Robert Bosch announced the launch of a company suggestions book. In so doing, he laid the foundation stone for what has since become a global ideas management program. His aim was to “perfect work processes and improve products, or reduce the cost of producing and managing them.” Bosch recently received the 2014 DeutschenIdeenPreis (German idea prize) for the best ideas management program in the automotive supplier category.
“The creativity of our associates continues to fuel our innovative strength,” said Christoph Kübel, member of the board of management and director of industrial relations at Robert Bosch GmbH, on the occasion of the anniversary. “The experience, creativity, and proactive thinking of each associate makes us more competitive and leads to better products. Often, small ideas that are beyond the scope of everyday tasks can make a big difference,” Kübel said. According to Kübel, such ideas are also the product of a working culture that values cultural diversity and promotes creativity.
Ideas management: more than making suggestions At Bosch, associates at every location are encouraged to submit suggestions for improvement. Ideas can include, for instance, ways of optimizing operations, improving product quality, avoiding waste, or promoting environmental protection. Associates are also encouraged to submit ideas that may even go beyond their direct areas of responsibility. If an improvement is implemented and results in cost savings, the associates concerned are given a cash reward of up to 150,000 euros. In addition to this company suggestion scheme, Bosch also relies on systematic ideas generation. “We don't just submit suggestions, but also generate ideas,” said Peter Schmid, who is charge of the Bosch Group's ideas management program. “For example, coordinators attend workshops to learn how they can use creativity techniques to actively support associates at their locations. Knowledge platforms, advisory services, networks, workshops, and further training can contribute to continuous improvement.” Associates can even train to become “Bosch Innovation Agents.”
Clever ideas – making clogged pipes a thing of the past Two associates at the Bosch site in Lohr, Germany, received the highest possible cash prize of 150,000 euros. Ferdinand Schneider and Xhafer Istrefi, who work at a foundry of the Bosch Drive and Control Technology division, came up with an inexpensive way to clean pipes through which molten steel flows: they use oxygen. “In the past, clogged pipes resulted in frequent down-time, and there were often delays before the next processing steps could take place,” Schneider says. The two associates went ahead and improved the process, without thinking of a potential cash reward. “We didn't submit our idea as a suggestion for improvement until we noticed while testing it out that production numbers had improved,” Istrefi says.
U.S. plant in Charleston: leading the field in ideas management The suggestions scheme that the company founder Robert Bosch introduced in Germany is now part of a comprehensive ideas management program. Designing and implementing customized idea generation shapes the basis of innovation. Today, Bosch ideas management is successful around the world. The program comprises a network of more than 60 coordinators, who support Bosch locations in systematically coming up with ideas for improvements. This is in addition to the ideas that associates come up with by chance. The Charleston location in the United States has been especially successful of late. HR boss Kübel described the plant as having by far the best ideas management. In Germany, the Ansbach plant leads the field.
Suggestions for improvement 2.0 – standardized ideas management around the world In the future, ideas management around the world will be even simpler. Many associates can already submit ideas electronically, and now the different IT systems used at Bosch locations in Germany and beyond are set to be standardized. At the Jaipur site in India, for instance, an online system has already been introduced. At easily accessible terminals, each associate can see whether or not their supervisor has already looked at their idea, and whether it has already been put into practice. At Bosch, today's ideas management program reflects the words of Robert Bosch, which continue to inspire associates around the world: “We should all strive to improve on the status quo: none of us should ever be satisfied with what they have achieved, but should always endeavor to get better.”
Proven Bosch occupational training model paves the way for professional competence development
Some 50 Bosch trainees in Vietnam since the center opened one year ago
Demand for qualified skilled workers rising in Asian growth markets
Ho Chi Minh City/Stuttgart – Sigmar Gabriel, Germany's Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, visited Bosch's training center in Vietnam today. Last year, the company became the first to introduce occupational training based on the tried-and-tested German “dual system” in Vietnam. Since then, some 50 young Vietnamese men and women have taken the first step toward their future careers by training to become industrial mechanics at Bosch. The occupational training model combines theoretical instruction at a vocational school with practical training at the company.
“The strong economic relations between Vietnam and Germany are boosting demand for an increasingly well-trained Vietnamese workforce,” Gabriel said during his visit to Bosch as part of his trip to this year's Asia Pacific Conference of German Business in Vietnam. “Initiatives such as Bosch's cooperation with a local vocational school are breaking new ground in vocational training in Vietnam.” Vietnam's prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung has also expressly encouraged Bosch to promote the system's further development in the country.
High demand for Bosch occupational training model in Asia At Bosch, vocational training can look back on a long tradition. Robert Bosch set up the first occupational training department at his company in 1913. Today, the supplier of technology and services is training some 6,900 apprentices in a total of 20 countries. Nearly 2,000 of those apprentices are based outside Germany.
In Asia especially, the need for qualified skilled workers is growing at an increasingly rapid pace. “For Bosch, Asia Pacific is an important growth region. We see professional competence development both as a part of our localization strategy and as essential for our growing business in this dynamic region,” said Peter Tyroller, the Bosch board of management member responsible for Asia Pacific. Over the past ten years, Bosch has more than doubled its sales in Asia Pacific to 11.1 billion euros. The company aims to double its sales in the region again by 2020. In addition to large countries such as China and India, the growth markets of Southeast Asia are set to make an increasing contribution to this development.
Along with the center in Vietnam, six other Bosch locations in Asia offer training according to the German model. In Thailand, the “dual system” was introduced in 2013. In China, Bosch opened the first of four training centers in 2007. The center of excellence for vocational training in India has been in existence since 1961 and has repeatedly been named the best in the country. In light of the increasing competition for the best people, Bosch plans to continue opening additional training centers around the world in the future.
Bosch in Vietnam Bosch has been present in Vietnam since 1994 and opened its first branch office in Ho Chi Minh City in 2008. Since July 2014, Bosch's headquarters in Vietnam have been located in Dang Nai province. The Bosch plant in Dong Nai produces pushbelts for continuously variable transmissions. In 2010, Bosch set up its first software engineering center in southeast Asia. Located in Ho Chi Minh City, the center employs around 650 associates. In July 2014, Bosch opened an additional development center for automotive technology there. Altogether, Bosch currently employs some 2,000 associates in Vietnam.
Stuttgart – Effective November 17, 2014, René Ziegler is taking charge of media and public relations at Robert Bosch GmbH. Within the Bosch press department, the 34-year-old has so far been responsible for economic and business affairs as well as electronic and digital media. In the future, the politics and economics graduate will be responsible for all topics concerning the global supplier of technology and services. In this function, he will report to his predecessor Dr. Christoph Zemelka, who is now senior vice president of corporate communications. Ziegler has been working in communications in the Bosch Group for some ten years now. During this time, he has held several posts in various communications disciplines. Before moving to the press department, he worked in change and communications management.
Jörn Ebberg spokesperson for mobility issues Jörn Ebberg has been with the Bosch press department since July 2014. The main focus of his work as press spokesperson is on automated driving. A 33-year-old social sciences and economics graduate, Ebberg gathered professional experience at various agencies following his journalistic training. Before joining Bosch, he worked for Motor Presse Stuttgart.
Nicole Neuer joins economic and business affairs team Nicole Neuer joined Bosch as a spokesperson for economic and business affairs at the start of October 2014. The economics graduate joined the department from BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH, where she was deputy head of corporate press and public relations. Before that, the 37-year-old was involved in communications work at companies in various industries.
Agnes Grill coordinates international press work In November 2014, Agnes Grill moved from Bosch communications in China to the corporate press department in Germany. The 31-year-old will act as spokesperson for international issues. A media management graduate, Grill has worked for Bosch since 2012, coordinating media relations in Asia Pacific from her base in Shanghai.
Christian Fronek deputy head of corporate communications At the beginning of this month, Christian Fronek assumed the position of deputy head of corporate communications. The 41-year-old joined Bosch in 2005, initially as a spokesperson for business topics. He coordinated media relations in central and eastern Europe as well as for the Consumer Goods business sector. He was later responsible for communication on numerous change projects before being transferred to the U.S. and heading up communications there. He has been head of internal and digital communications since 2011.
Increasing significance of Africa as major growth market
Growing middle class, well-educated young people, and an abundance of raw materials point toward positive development for many African countries
Two further locations in Algeria and Ghana planned by end of 2014
Stuttgart – Bosch is steadily expanding its presence in Africa. The supplier of technology and services opened two new African branch offices at the end of October 2014 – one in Luanda, the capital of Angola, and the other in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. This brings the total number of African countries in which Bosch has a regional subsidiary or branch office to seven. These will soon be joined by Algeria and Ghana, where the company is opening two new locations by the middle of next year. These activities underline Africa’s growing significance as an important growth market for Bosch: “The growing middle class, ever more well-educated young people, the continent’s wealth of raw materials – all these point toward positive economic development for many African countries,” said Bosch management board member Uwe Raschke. This makes the region attractive for Bosch, he explained. “We can contribute to improving quality of life for local people with our products and services. In this respect, we are concentrating on the needs and demands of the individual markets and of our local customers,” Raschke said.
The new branch offices in Angola and Mozambique will initially focus on the sale of automotive spare parts, workshop concepts, power tools, security systems, and thermotechnology. In the future, though, machinery for the safe and resource-conserving packaging of pharmaceutical products and foodstuffs such as rice and flour will also be offered. The expansion of local know-how is also an important concern for Bosch. For instance, the company offers training for local automotive workshops. These are often jointly conducted with local partners, such as automobile associations or other institutions.
Bosch in Africa Bosch has been present in Africa since 1906. The company’s more than 600 associates in Africa generated total sales of some 340 million euros in 2013. The focus of the company’s activities is currently South Africa, where there are two manufacturing sites, in Brits and Midrand. They primarily manufacture automotive components and assemble packaging machinery. Bosch has further regional subsidiaries and branch offices in Egypt, Morocco, Kenya, and Nigera. In addition, the company’s subsidiary Bosch Rexroth has held a 50 percent stake in its sales partner Hytec Holding since the beginning of October 2014, making it one of the leading manufacturers of hydraulics and drive and control technology in Africa.
Bosch also actively promotes talented young people in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2008, it was one of the initiators of Afrika kommt!, an initiative of German industry for junior managers from sub-Saharan Africa. Since 2008, Bosch has been part of a group of some 20 companies who offer scholarships to African junior executives so that they can spend a year in Germany completing a professional training program. The goal of the program is to foster mutual exchange and learning between budding African executives and German companies.