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

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,

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.

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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

Contact person for press inquiries:
Thilo Resenhoeft, phone: +49 711 811-7088

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Technology and innovation location Bosch officially opens new research campus in Renningen Chancellor Merkel: “Research and innovation are the sources of our prosperity”

  • Governor Winfried Kretschmann: “Impressive demonstration of faith in Baden-Württemberg as a location for innovation.”
  • Bosch CEO Denner: “Renningen is Bosch’s own Stanford.”
  • Applied industrial research for better quality of life
  • Expansion of key competencies in microelectronics and software
  • New work and office environment for innovators
Renningen, Germany – A completely new work environment for creative minds: with its Renningen research campus, Bosch wants to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration, and in this way further enhance its innovative strength. At the new center for research and advance engineering on the outskirts of Stuttgart, some 1,700 creative minds are doing applied industrial research. At a ceremony attended by Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel, Baden-Württemberg Governor Winfried Kretschmann, and many other guests from politics, business, and academia, the research campus has now been officially opened.

“With this research campus, Bosch is setting new standards,” said the Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel. She underscored the significance of applied industrial research: “Research and innovation are the sources of our prosperity.” She noted that Bosch has set itself the task of realizing ideas that nobody else has even had. “Bosch wants to stay one step ahead of developments,” the Chancellor said.

Governor Winfried Kretschmann said that the new research campus is “an impressive demonstration of faith in Baden-Württemberg as a location for innovation.”

“Like a university, our campus brings together many faculties. Here, we want our researchers to do more than just think about what the future could bring. We want them to be successful entrepreneurs as well. Renningen is Bosch’s own Stanford. And at the same time, the center is an expression of our faith in Germany as a technology location,” said Dr. Volkmar Denner, chairman of the Bosch board of management. The company has invested some 310 million euros in the new location. The research campus, whose motto is “Connected for millions of ideas,” is the hub of Bosch’s global research and development network. The supplier of technology and services also intends to strengthen the spirit of entrepreneurship there. It is precisely here that Denner sees Germany at a competitive disadvantage. “In Germany, there are neither the opportunities nor the willingness to establish companies. Especially among its young university graduates, we need more start-up spirit. In this respect, universities have to do more than prepare their students for exams in highly specialized fields.”

Innovations for better quality of life
The hope for the future is that even more innovations will be created in Renningen that improve quality of life. The campus brings together many disciplines from science and technology. Whether electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, analytics, chemistry, physics, biology, or microsystems technology – in Renningen, a total of 1,200 associates in corporate research and advance engineering, plus 500 PhD students and interns, are now working on the technical challenges of the future. Up to now, these researchers were spread over three locations in the greater Stuttgart area. Chancellor Merkel was clearly impressed by the innovative research institute: “What you have managed to achieve here is the networking not only of research locations, but also of scientific disciplines.” On a campus such as this, she said, it will be much easier to keep an eye on the big picture.

Governor Winfried Kretschmann wished the research campus a successful future: “Our hope for this campus is that it will create decisive stimuli for the development of automated driving, succeed in facilitating a breakthrough for electromobility, and drive forward ideas for connected industry. The research center wants to create the right conditions for such work – an environment in which creativity and productivity can thrive. Our wish is that this research campus will be the seedbed for many future innovations – innovations that are not just technically outstanding and economically successful, but also continue to live up to the company’s sense of social and ecological responsibility.”

Technological breadth in research and advance engineering
In the special campus atmosphere, Bosch’s pioneering minds will work on both new products and innovative manufacturing methods. Their work will focus on areas such as software engineering, sensor technology, automation, driver assistance systems, and battery technology, as well as on improved automotive powertrain systems. One area that is becoming increasingly significant is software expertise – particularly for IoT connectivity. “For Germany to stay technologically on top of its game in connectivity, it has to preserve and extend the key competencies of microelectronics and software. If it fails to do this, German industry will be left behind. We have no reason to fear competition with IT companies. But for our industrial enterprises, this competition will not be a walk in the park,” Denner said.

As for Bosch itself, Denner believes it is well prepared for the connectivity trend. For example, the company is not only the global market leader for micromechanical sensors, but has also been extending its software competence for some years now. The Bosch Group now employs more than 15,000 software engineers. Three thousand experts are working on the internet of things alone. Bosch especially sees huge business potential in the services that will arise as a result of connectivity. “If we do not want to let others seize these opportunities, then we have to be even faster and less risk-averse than before,” Denner said. “At an earlier stage than ever before, our engineers have to think like businesspeople. The things that are technically feasible should not only excite our researchers, but our future customers as well.”

Germany has to learn to be daring
Denner added that large enterprises such as Bosch have to create the space in which enterprise and entrepreneurship can flourish. Bosch is leading by example. The company has set up its own start-up platform for new business fields. Denner stressed that if the “Silicon Valley model” really is to be the way forward for Europe, “we have to learn to take risks.” Bosch Start-up GmbH helps Bosch researchers become successful businesspeople. For example, it takes care of things such as premises, financing, and other administrative tasks. In this way, new businesses can focus right from the start on their product and bringing it to market. The Bonirob agricultural robot is one of the first products to emerge in this way. The Bosch start-up Deepfield Robotics developed this robot, which is the size of a compact car, as an aid for plant breeding and crop farming.

The best working conditions for creative ideas
On the expansive research campus, there is plenty of space to test the agricultural robot. Apart from the main building, eleven laboratory and workshop buildings, and two buildings for site maintenance, there is also a modern proving ground for testing driver assistance systems. A networking matrix was used to determine who should occupy the individual buildings. It was based on analyses of how intensively individual disciplines exchange information with each other: The closer units work together, the shorter the physical distance between them on the new campus.

Quiet corners, collaboration zones
Bosch paid particular attention to working conditions in Renningen. Whether inside or out, the researchers will encounter a modern work environment. Essentially, the entire campus is a workplace. “Brainwaves in the fresh air, technology at the water’s edge – all this is possible here in Renningen,” Denner said. Wifi connections are available in every building and everywhere on the grounds. Laptops, tablet computers, and voice over internet mean that work can be done in every corner of the campus. Explaining the idea behind this, Denner said: “In Renningen, we offer our innovation team both quiet corners and zones for collaboration.” Office layouts have been designed on the basis of a comprehensive analysis of the innovation process. When they are exploring ideas, researchers need to have peace and quiet. Later on, exchange and collaboration with others take on more importance. These phases, as well as associates’ wishes, were considered when planning the complex. “Associates want more freedom to use their creativity in research and development – and fewer administrative duties. This is something the employee representatives actively supported,” says Alfred Löckle, chairman of the central and combined works councils. “The days when the design of workplaces was decided from above are over. Our associates spend a lot of time at their workplaces. It’s only right that they should also have a say in their design.”

The result of the joint consultation with everyone involved was a completely new office concept. Apart from individual workplaces, 270 meeting rooms of various sizes are the salient characteristic – meaning that there is sufficient room for both focused activity and teamwork. On average, each associate is just ten meters away from the nearest meeting room, and thus possibly also from the next innovative breakthrough.

Link to a fact sheet about the new research campus
Link to press releases about specific areas of research
Link to research and development at Bosch
Link to the Bosch Renningen website
Link to article about Renningen in the Bosch annual report

Contact person for press inquiries:
René Ziegler, Phone: +49 711 811-7639

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Bosch's own “Stanford” A speech by Dr. Volkmar Denner,
Chairman of the Board of Management
of Robert Bosch GmbH,
at the inauguration of the Renningen research campus
on October 14, 2015.

Madam Chancellor,
Mr. Minister-President,
Ladies and gentlemen,

As a CEO, today makes me proud. As a physicist, it makes me almost envious. Here in Renningen, we are inaugurating Bosch’s new research center – a center we deliberately refer to as a campus. Just like at a university, it brings together many different faculties. It is a place where engineers and scientists of all disciplines can exchange ideas. It is, if you like, Bosch’s own “Stanford.”

I could also say that it will be a fine place to do research, and this is what makes my physicist heart skip a beat. I could imagine that this is a feeling you understand well, Madam Chancellor. After all, you too have had to forsake physics. That said, the two of us would perhaps give a lot to be young physicists again here on this research campus – not to gain insights into the inner workings of the world, but to look for new and meaningful solutions relating to driving, energy efficiency, or even digital connectivity. Here, at all events, the technological future is still open.

What very few people now remember is that Renningen has a history of paving the way for the future. If we go back 20 years, to a time when a campus was the last thing people were thinking of, we find our engineers using the adjoining airfield for driving trials. They were putting ESP through its paces – the electronic anti-skid program that was to hit the headlines a few years later, following the legendary elk test. In other words, Renningen was the site of the first trials for a system that would be such a blessing that it is now standard equipment in vehicles in many parts of the world. According to a study by the University of Cologne, this electronic guardian angel has prevented nearly 260,000 traffic accidents and saved some 8,500 lives in Europe alone. At Bosch, this is what we mean when we speak of “Invented for life” – a technology that gives our work so much meaning that it is an extra reward for our engineers.

Renningen is therefore a good place for pioneering technological achievements. For me, the story of ESP is an inspiration for the future – a future that will also see us further automating driving, and thus making it accident-free. And while not every Bosch innovation has such an immediate life-saving effect, our technological solutions can at least improve quality of life. For all our business interests, this is what motivates Bosch and its engineers. In the 20 years ahead, my expectation is that we will be seeing a lot of technology “Invented for life” emerging from Renningen.

At all events, we have invested more than 300 million euros in our new research campus on this prestigious site. After being spread over three locations in the greater Stuttgart area, 1,700 creative minds will now work together more closely and intensively than ever before. At the same time, Renningen will be the central hub of our global research and development network, with its 45,700 associates at 94 locations in 25 countries. This is on top of our 250 partnership arrangements with the world’s best universities and research institutes. Both locally and globally, we are networking our research and development.

We are not solely concerned to improve connections among our brightest technological minds – we also want our technology itself to be connected. At Bosch, we regard the internet of things as an epoch-making development, on a par with the advent of electronics in the car 50 years ago. Vehicles, machines, household appliances, and energy systems will soon communicate automatically with each other. When they do, it will affect the industrial heart of the German economy. In an age of digital connectivity, how can Germany stay technologically on top of its game? It can do so above all by promoting the key competencies of sensor technology and software. However, IoT-related business also arises out of new services. And if we do not want to let others seize these opportunities, then we have to be even faster and less risk-averse than before. Or to put it another way: our engineers have to think like businesspeople – at an earlier stage than ever before.

To this end, large companies such as Bosch have to grant people creative freedom, beyond the classic organization. It is no coincidence, therefore, that we have set up our own start-up platform for new business fields. But we can only make the most of this creative freedom if we have associates who act like businesspeople. Wherever possible, we want young graduates to bring this dynamic mindset with them. I want to see German university education infused with a greater sense of entrepreneurship.

Many people seem to believe that Europe can become some kind of “silicon valley.” In reality, however, there are neither the opportunities nor the willingness to establish start-ups. This is not just about a lack of venture capital, therefore, but also a lack of boldness. It has to be a matter of concern for us that only 25 percent of Germans can imagine setting up a company, while the figure for the U.S. is 40 percent. To make matters worse, fear of failure is the reason cited by 80 percent of Germans, while in the U.S. this figure is only 30 percent. Especially among its young university graduates, this country needs more start-up spirit. In this respect, universities have to do more than prepare their students for exams in highly specialized fields. For example, a lot could be gained by university chairs that combine technological subjects with the development of business models. If the “silicon valley” model really is to be the way forward for Europe, we have to learn to take risks.

At a company like Bosch, at all events, the path from the campus to the market must be a short one. After all, we do not want technology for its own sake, but technology that is “Invented for life.” No less than the future of the company depends on this. This research campus is a promise that Bosch’s best minds will work together to come up with innovations of the caliber of ESP – innovations that leave a lasting mark on the world.

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