Bosch in South America: 60 years of success in Brazil Innovative solutions for safety, security, and mobility

  • Security for stadiums and subways
  • Bosch FlexFuel technology in nearly every Brazilian vehicle
  • Production primarily for the local market
Dynamic development, tremendous diversity, and warmhearted people: Brazil quite rightly is attracting the world's attention – and not only for major sporting events. With a GDP of 1.7 trillion euros, Brazil is now one of the world's seven strongest economic powers. The Bosch Group has been involved in the country's remarkable development for a very long time. The company's first agency opened in 1910 in Rio de Janeiro. Sixty years ago, the first sales office opened in São Paulo. Since then, Bosch has been officially present in Brazil. Two years later, production started at the first manufacturing facility in Campinas, around 100 kilometers from São Paulo.

Today, the Bosch Group is active in Brazil at eight locations with all four of its business sectors – Automotive Technology, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. In 2013, the company employed 8,600 associates in the country, who generated 1.3 billion euros in sales in the local market. This is 80 percent of Bosch's total sales volume in South America. Including non-consolidated companies, the Bosch Group is present in six other South and Central American countries, including Argentina, Venezuela, Chile, and Colombia, with a total workforce of roughly 1,000 associates.

Market with long-term growth potential
Thanks to its excellent long-term growth potential, South America is a strategically important region for Bosch. Over the past ten years, Bosch has invested around 750 million euros in South America, the majority of which in Brazil. Given the region's roughly 400 million inhabitants, low median age, and the increasing purchasing power of a growing middle class, the company expects to see a rise in demand for technology that is “Invented for life” – i.e. products and services for more energy efficiency, lower CO2 emissions, and improved safety and security. For example, demand for automotive technology in particular is likely to rise in Brazil, considering that not even one in four Brazilians currently own a car. In addition, ABS became mandatory in 2014 for all vehicles produced in Brazil and Argentina. The company expects this to offer an additional impetus.

Security for millions every day
Bosch Security Systems technology has provided the cameras, fire alarms, and evacuation systems that ensure millions of Brazilians are able to travel safely every day. One such example is the subway system in São Paulo, South America's largest city. Every day, 900,000 people pass through the central hub at Praça da Sé. Traffic on the “Bandeirantes” and “Anhanguera” freeways – which link the metropolises of São Paulo and Campinas – is also equipped with Bosch technology. Since 2000, the private operator CCR AutoBan has been keeping an eye on 360 kilometers of freeway, and can quickly warn drivers of hazards or intervene in cases of emergency.

Bosch products also keep visitors safe at many of Brazil's stadiums. This is the case, for example, at the Arena Itaipava Fonte Nova in Salvador da Bahia. 280 cameras, 500 speakers, and 4,000 fire alarms from Bosch are installed there. Thanks to this security technology, the 50,000-seat stadium can be evacuated in eight minutes in an emergency. It is also equipped with Bosch solar collectors, which provide the facility with hot water. These products are manufactured in Alphaville, near São Paulo.

Broad product portfolio
The example of the stadium in Salvador attests to the Bosch Group's key strength: the ability to use the expertise of various divisions in order to offer a broad portfolio of solutions. In South America alone, there are currently 190 such projects. Alongside sporting venues, these encompass projects in the mining and construction industries. For customers in South America, Bosch communication centers in Sao Paulo and Joinville offer a broad range of services. These include services in areas such as marketing, customer support, finances, security, and IT support in Portuguese, English, and Spanish. The two centers are part of a global network of more than 20 locations offering services in some 30 languages.

FlexFuel – a “local for local” development
Bosch's Brazilian locations are an example of the company's “local for local” strategy. This means that production for the local market happens locally. As part of this, local management ensures that each region's specific demands are catered to. An example of this is the FlexFuel technology Bosch developed especially for Brazil. This technology makes it possible to run vehicles on gasoline as well as ethanol in any mixture. Since the 1970s, Brazil has relied heavily on locally-produced ethanol in order to reduce imports of gasoline and diesel. Diesel engines are still prohibited in passenger cars. Today, roughly 90 percent of all passenger cars there are equipped with FlexFuel. In 2013, the twenty-millionth vehicle featuring this Bosch technology was manufactured in Brazil. Other important markets are the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Bosch is currently further developing FlexFuel technology for diesel engines. DualFuel is the new solution which allows trucks to run on natural gas as well. Using this technology, up to 90 percent of a vehicle's fuel needs can be covered by gas instead of diesel. Bosch components from the Curitiba location are already in use in nearly every diesel-powered truck driven in Brazil.

Qualified apprenticeships since 1960
As it does in elsewhere, Bosch offers a qualified apprenticeship program in Brazil based on the tried-and-tested German dual education model, a combination of theoretical study and practical training. As early as 1960, the company established a partnership with the state apprenticeship program SENAI (Serviço Nacional de Aprendizagem Industrial), and took on its first apprentices. Some 1,400 young people have now graduated from the technical schools at the Bosch locations in Campinas and Curitiba. Today, a total of 60 young people begin apprenticeships there each year. Over the past ten years, Bosch has hired more than 90 percent of its apprentices after the completion of their training, which is considerably higher than the national average of 50 percent.

Commitment beyond business interests
The Bosch Group's activities in Brazil extend far beyond its business interests, however. Driven by a fascination with Brazilian history and culture, in the 1960s the company began building a specialist library for first editions of the most important works covering many aspects of the country. Today, the collection has around 1,000 volumes, including a letter from Columbus written in 1493 in Latin, as well as the 1482 Ulm edition of Ptolemy's Cosmographia, which does not yet include the Americas.

Since 2003, the Instituto Robert Bosch has supported apprenticeship and professional training programs at Brazilian locations. In the spirit of the company founder, the organization supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. For example, in conjunction with the municipal authorities in Curitiba, it runs courses for more than 500 young people. Upon completion, some 70 percent of them find work in a skilled position. The Instituto Robert Bosch also works closely with organizations such as Primavera Hilfe für Kinder in Not e.V., an aid organization established by Bosch associates to help children in need.
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With funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research: Conductive lubricants will protect the electric motors of the future Basic and industrial researchers are developing new greases

  • Progress on the road to sustainable e-mobility
  • Ionic liquids already effective
  • Very promising research findings
     The vehicles of the future will require higher voltages than current models.
     New electrically conductive lubricants will help protect electric motors and alternators
     from wear. Thanks to the joint efforts of basic and industrial researchers in Germany,
     the new substances required to achieve this have already been developed.

Stuttgart – In the future, electrically conductive lubricants will protect electric motors from the surface damage that can result from electrical discharging in the bearings. With these findings, which are the result of a joint research project, a group of German basic and industrial engineers have taken an important step toward achieving the sustainable electromobility of the future. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research.

The initiative was launched to prepare for the vehicles of the future, which will require higher voltages than current models. At present, 12 volts are required to provide all automotive electric systems – from lights and radios to air conditioners – with sufficient power. Within the next few years, the figure is expected to rise to 48 volts, as electric power is required for a growing number of functions. The voltage levels of electric and hybrid vehicles are even higher: these vehicles can require as much as 400 volts.

Stronger alternating electric fields
“In alternators and electric motors, higher volage levels mean that alternating electric fields are stronger than they once were,” says Dr. Gerd Dornhöfer, one of the Bosch associates taking part in the “SchmiRmaL” project (Switchable intelligent tribological systems with minimal friction losses and maximum lifespan). This can cause, for instance, electrical discharge in the ball bearings of motors and alternators. When this occurs, sparks may fly that can melt tiny areas of the metal’s surface. This, in turn, leads to uneven raceways. As a result of this, the ball bearings first begin to make noise, and then to malfunction too soon. “We can already prevent this from happening reliably with the lubricants we have developed,” says Dornhöfer as he looks at the measurement results on his computer. The chief expert for lubrication technology works for the corporate research department in Gerlingen, close to Stuttgart.

Anyone who has ever gotten a small electric shock from a doorknob is familiar with static charges. When the finger is just a few millimeters from the doorknob, an electric spark jumps between the two. The higher the electric tension, the further the spark travels. The air between the door handle and the finger acts as an insulator until the finger is close enough to the knob.

Lubricant film acts as an insulator
The same thing can also happen when a current is generated between the shaft and housing of an electric motor, as the lubricant coating in the bearing acts as an insulator. As rotation speed increases, the lubricant greases in the ball bearings separate the bearings from the raceway. This is comparable to hydroplaning on wet roads. Unlike on roads, however, this phenomenon is desirable in ball bearings, as it minimizes the friction generated by the bearings as well as the surface damage. However, this can also lead the bearings to recharge when the lubricant film is intact, similar to a capacitor. When the built-up voltage is sufficient, it can penetrate the insulating lubricant grease. This energy suffices to briefly melt a tiny area of metal on the bearing’s surface. If this happens repeatedly, tiny imperfections eventually appear on the bearing. “We want to prevent this at all costs, as it can result in greater damage to these spots over time,” says the Bosch scientist. Engineers refer to this as electrical pitting. The process results in damaged areas on the raceway that are comparable to potholes. In the future, the energy of these discharges may become greater as the power density and voltages of automotive electric systems increase.

In light of this potential problem, the SchmiRmal project’s strategy focuses on developing new lubricants, whose substances remain conductive even at higher voltage levels. As a result, these lubricants do not act as insulators to begin with. Voltage levels no longer build up, nor does potentially destructive electrostatic discharge.

“This can be achieved in several ways,” said Dornhöfer. “One could, for instance, add fine metal particles to the grease to conduct the current. But this would mean that the lubricant grease would also act as an abrasive, and of course we want to avoid this.” Here, ionic fluids are more suitable. In chemical terms, these comprise molecules known as ions that conduct an electrical charge. “Ionic fluids conduct electricity, and this is why we add these substances to our lubricants,” said Dornhöfer.

Resistance reduced by a factor of ten million
Following countless tests, the scientists have now come up with greases that are less and less resistant to electricity. In other words: the lubricant conducts electrons as desired in the ball bearing and thus prevents the dreaded electrical flashovers. The initial material was a commercially available industrial lubricant. “By using the right ionic fluids combined with conductive carbon, its resistance can be reduced by a factor of ten million,” says the Bosch scientist. This is enough to prevent the unwanted electrical discharges.

While the new grease is black, it otherwise largely resembles its predecessor. At present, Dornhöfer is focusing in part on investigating all of the grease’s characteristics. To ensure a long life cycle, ball bearings must be heat resistant and have cold flow properties. Moreover, the new additives should not compromise the grease’s corrosion protection properties. And it goes without saying that the new grease should not pose a hazard to human health or the environment. All of this is currently being tested as part of the BMBF project. “So far, our findings have been very promising”, Dornhöfer says.

Many scientists from a broad range of disciplines and sectors have contributed to this success. “No one can find these solutions alone. We are all contributing and learning from one another,” Dornhöfer says. The project is set to run until April 2015. “Chances are high that the new lubricants will find industrial application after the project.”

A longer service life for many machine components
The benefits of the project’s work go well beyond applications for electric motors. The new lubricants can also increase the service life and reliability of machine elements that experience high levels of strain, especially roller and plain bearings and transmission components. Moreover, performance can be improved for motors of the same size, or maintained if motors are smaller. At the same time, the lubricants contribute to reducing energy consumption and to increasing efficiency.

The project participants
Klüber Lubrication SE & Co. KG (Munich) is one of the world’s leading and most innovative specialty lubricant manufacturers. IoLiTec-Ionic Liquids Technologies GmbH (Heilbronn) develops ionic fluids. Schaeffler Technologies GmbH & Co. KG (Herzogenaurach) is an automotive supplier that develops and manufactures rolling bearings. The company’s role in the project is to assess how new types of oil can improve the service life of bearings. Inprotec AG (Heitersheim) develops highly effective coatings that protect against abrasion. Over the course of the project, SCHUNK GmbH & Co. KG (Lauffen/Neckar) is working on improving the durability of a valve. Using computer models, the Fraunhofer Institute for Algorithms and Scientific Computing SCAI (Sankt Augustin) is making forecasts about the potential environmental impact of new ionic fluids. Over the course of the project, the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM (Freiburg im Breisgau) is focusing mainly on the potential lubricating effect of ionic fluids. Bosch is applying these new lubricants and testing their suitability under real-world conditions.

Klüber Lubrication München SE & Co. KG:
IoLiTec-Ionic Liquids Technologies GmbH:
Schaeffler Technologies GmbH & Co. KG:
inprotec AG:
Fraunhofer Institute for Algorithms and Scientific Computing SCA
Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM
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Bosch heads up Industry 4.0 research project IT infrastructure for smart factories Optimizing and connecting production facilities

  • CoCoS project to bolster German manufacturing with support of German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy
  • Development of an infrastructure for cyber-physical production systems in smart factories
  • Flexible communication instead of fixed, hierarchical levels
Stuttgart – In the future, cyber-physical production systems (CPPS) will allow industry to manufacture more flexibly and efficiently. Made up of intelligent machines, storage systems, and operating resources, these systems can autonomously exchange information, trigger processes, and control each other. An important foundation still missing for CPPS, however, is an integrated information and communication infrastructure that connects the entire system and other CPPS to each other, even between companies. A research team has set itself the task of developing this infrastructure. Supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the CoCoS (Context-Aware Connectivity and Service Infrastructure for Cyber-Physical Production Systems) project kicked off at the beginning of this year and is set to run through the end of 2016.

Shifting away from the automation pyramid
Present-day production systems are organized hierarchically. In line with the classic automation pyramid, each process is assigned to a level. The fact that each level has its own function and sometimes even its own communications technology can lead to data discontinuity. As a result, changes in the production process – especially at interfaces – are cumbersome, time-consuming, and consequently expensive. In contrast, CPPS can promptly respond to a changed need. Because all technical production processes are closely linked to the business processes, they can be easily and flexibly controlled or modified to allow optimum use of resources. CPPS relies on cooperative network architectures, not hierarchical ones; this means the entire CPPS is connected, including all sensors and actuators. Moreover, it is designed to connect to several CPPS and also integrate isolated solutions. This allows companies to control the entire production process uniformly and across locations, from management to logistics.

Networking and services platform
Working in what is known as a multi-layer approach. CoCoS project researchers want to use standardized software to integrate the individual production components into the overall system – merging what were previously separate levels to create a flexible structure. The CPPS landscape is based on two platforms. First, the networking platform, which is scalable and hence easily expanded, determines the way in which the manufacturing components as well as the embedded sensors and actuators communicate with each other. Building on this networking platform, the services platform comprises software for controlling the entire modular system and includes smart applications such as software agents, knowledge databases, and business apps. This structure supports the development of new electronic services and makes modern manufacturing facilities more autonomous. Cloud computing can be used to integrate and couple together different cyber-physical production systems.

Research collaboration
A consortium of industrial companies and academic partners are working on the CoCoS project. Heading up the project is Robert Bosch GmbH in Stuttgart. Additional partners are the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence GmbH (DFKI) in Kaiserslautern, DMG Electronics GmbH in Pfronten, Technische Universität Berlin, trustsec IT-Solutions GmbH in Stuttgart, and XETICS GmbH in Stuttgart. To document the performance capacity of the new platform philosophy, three of the partners – Bosch, DFKI, and DMG – are each building a demonstrator. These individual demonstrators will then be coupled together and evaluated.

Contribution to Industry 4.0
The CoCoS findings will lend themselves to application wherever production is split into several steps, such as the delivery of raw materials, the manufacture of components, or finished products – even when the production steps take place in different companies or at different locations belonging to a single company. CoCoS is thus helping to establish CPPS, which in turn will form the core of smart factories. Industry will be able to use the structures and functions of the internet of things to create smart, flexible production systems, making them a vanguard of the so-called fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0). This could give Germany a distinct competitive advantage both as a manufacturing location and as a leading global provider of plant equipment. Part of the “Autonomics for Industry 4.0” technology program, CoCoS is receiving some 2.4 million euros of funding from the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), following a decision in the German Bundestag.

The participants:
German federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)
Robert Bosch GmbH
German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence GmbH (DFKI)
DMG Electronics GmbH
Technical University Berlin
trustsec IT-Solutions GmbH

Project website (under construction):
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