Wide range of applications planned, including in the automotive sector
Stuttgart – Complex construction projects show us how important it is to work through the scenarios of all possible future uses and plan accordingly. But this isn't true for construction clients alone; industrial companies, too, can plan more accurately and cost-effectively if they put their products through a “virtual stress test” early on in the development process. The EffektiV research project aims to develop just such a testing method, initially for at the automation industry.
Making entire systems fault-proof The research team's first task is to develop a testing method for motion control systems, which are used in the automation industry to electronically control the movements of conveyor belts, robot arms, and the like. Motion control systems are made up of a whole series of components that must interact absolutely smoothly. But what happens if one of these components develops a fault during operation? For instance, individual chips within the control unit might malfunction, a motor might overheat due to faulty bearings, or a sensor might provide erroneous data. Faults of this kind must not be allowed to cause the entire system to breakdown, nor to irreparably damage individual components. It is just as important to prevent incidents in which people are injured – when a robot arm wheels around, for example.
Tests on virtual prototypes Using the method developed in the EffektiV project, motion control systems can be put through their paces early on in their development – by employing virtual prototypes. A virtual model of the system is created in advance of the real prototype. Playing out all relevant fault scenarios in this model makes it possible to avoid faults and make the entire system safer and more robust. Currently, the automation industry relies on traditional hardware prototypes – but this means that it is only relatively late in the development process that the various components are brought together for testing as an overall system. “Virtual models can be tested much earlier and more comprehensively than today's hardware prototypes. That brings down the number of development cycles and avoids costly redesigns,” says Dr. Jan-Hendrik Oetjens, who coordinates the EffektiV project at Robert Bosch GmbH. Since the risk of discovering a malfunction at a late stage is particularly high in new, highly complex products, it is for these that stress testing makes the most sense.
Safety despite increasing complexity Even though this testing method is being developed for the automation industry, it is intended to be applicable in a range of other branches as well. For instance, it can help to make a vehicle's ESP® electronic stability program, driver assistance systems, and airbag systems even safer. The EffektiV project is also helping to prepare the German economy for “Industry 4.0”, a vision of future industrial manufacturing that is heavily networked and hence extremely complex. Here, products themselves will be in charge of their own production process, adjusting it to match custom requests. It is a vision that depends on what are known as cyber-physical systems, which combine real objects with the virtual world. In this way, EffektiV is helping to keep up the pace of innovation while maintaining the highest possible level of operational safety – and to improve the competitiveness of Germany's high-tech sector.
Three companies working with four research institutions EffektiV stands for “efficient fault simulation with virtual prototypes for the qualification of smart motion control systems in industrial automation.” Launched in October 2013 and set to run for three years, the project brings together three major German companies and four German research institutions. The hope is that access to such a depth of expertise will ensure the stress test and the associated method are widely applicable. Robert Bosch GmbH is the lead partner, with Infineon Technologies AG as development partner and Siemens AG as application partner. The research tasks are being carried out by the FZI Research Center for Information Technology in Karlsruhe, the University of Bremen, the University of Paderborn, and Eberhard Karls University, Tübingen.
Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is providing over seven million euros of funding for the EffektiV research project as part of its IKT 2020 research program.
Information in real time thanks to fully virtual supply chain
Bosch board member Asenkerschbaumer: networks are now more efficient, flexible, and eco-friendly
VDA president Wissmann: intelligent production a major competitive advantage for Germany
Expert judges praise the solution's consistency
Frankfurt. Bosch has received the Association of German Car Manufacturers' (VDA) Logistics Award. The global supplier of technology and services has been awarded the prize for completely virtualizing physical flows of goods, which can now be tracked in real time with intelligent software systems. The analysis of the data obtained helps manage and further improve processes. Successful data sharing across the company has been one of the project's major achievements. Standardized data can now be exchanged and shared between companies seamlessly and in real time. This makes it possible to optimize production and supply networks in a comprehensive manner. “Suppliers and customers can open up their processes for each other and integrate them with each other. This is making the vision of consistent data transmission in industrial supply chains reality. The result is efficient, flexible, and eco-friendly production and logistics networks,” said Dr. Stefan Asenkerschbaumer, the deputy chairman of the Bosch board of management, at the awards ceremony in Frankfurt. For instance, over the course of a pilot project at Bosch's Homburg site in Germany, the efficiency of logistics processes was improved by some 10 percent.
Intelligent production strengthens Germany as an industrial location Matthias Wissmann, the VDA president, emphasized the significance of the awarded innovation: “Intelligent production and logistics processes strengthen Germany's competitiveness as an industrial location. With their product and process innovations, German suppliers are playing a major role in ensuring that the German automotive industry is always one step ahead of the competition. With the help of the award, outstanding, innovative logistics concepts can serve as inspiration for all companies that are looking for creative and intelligent logistics solutions.” The standardized data-sharing concept that Bosch has now applied across the board is based on the findings of the RAN research project (radio frequency identification (RFID)-based automotive network). The project was set up with the aim of developing new management concepts for automotive industry production networks.
Using virtual reality to improve the real world “Changes in industrial production, which in Germany are generally referred to as Industry 4.0, have long been underway. These changes are now being put into practice and are thus becoming visible,” said Asenkerschbaumer, the member of the Bosch board of management responsible for purchasing and logistics. On the path to integrated industry, the company is building on the Bosch Production System, which has been successfully applied for years. In the past, the approach focused on optimizing physical production and logistics processes – in other words, on the things that take place in the real world. But new IT technologies have now made it possible to virtualize these processes and flows of goods. This is done via automated data collection, which gathers data on the status of products or transport containers throughout the production and logistics process. Technical aids such as RFID technologies can be used for this purpose. In the past, the physical flow of goods was entered manually into an IT system, a time-consuming exercise that reflected past status rather than present status. Error rates were high and data was never up to date. The flow of information was not in sync with the flow of goods.
From data to knowledge, from knowledge to benefit The large quantity of current and thus high-quality data can be analyzed with the help of software. Intelligent algorithms are applied to illustrate the relationships and interactions between parts of the process. This information can be applied to help further improve the entire system. “The production process optimizes itself,” says Andreas Müller, a Bosch project manager, pointing out the benefits of the modern approach. “New data provides new insights, and these make it possible to further improve the system. In turn, the improved system generates new data, which helps build new, beneficial knowledge. It's a virtuous circle.”
Cooperating to improve the value-added chain By standardizing the flow of data between companies, additional partners can be involved in efforts to optimize processes, including customers and suppliers. “Networked and thus intelligent production and logistics can only become reality once solutions are consistently applied between companies. By implementing this approach with its partners, Bosch has successfully realized the vision of supply chain management,” said Professor Wolfgang Stölzle of the University of St. Gallen, in explaining the judges' decision. Over the course of the pilot project, Bosch is working an engine manufacturer and a supplier of reusable containers.
Outlook: process, sensor technology, and software expertise Bosch is currently implementing the new approach at its own manufacturing sites around the world as well as with additional partners. The company is also working to further develop its technical solutions. Today, RFID tags are common information and data carriers. In the future, web-enabled sensors will also transmit status information about objects. The quantity and quality of data will continue to increase. Intelligent software solutions and high-performance algorithms will evaluate data, and this will open up new potential for improvement. As a leading global manufacturer of sensors, Bosch can rely on its own products in this area. Bosch Software Innovations, a Bosch subsidiary, offers customized software and system solutions. “By combining our expertise in the areas of processes, sensor technology, and software, we can further enhance our own and our partners' value added. On the path toward integrated industry, we see ourselves as a leading user and a leading supplier of software and hardware,” Asenkerschbaumer said. Especially at the interfaces between value-added networks, there is potential to cut costs and create new services.
About the VDA Logistics Award The VDA Logistics Award was presented for the seventh time this year. It was the second time that Bosch received the honor. An innovative Bosch logistics concept was also singled out by an expert panel in 2009. The award recognizes the efforts of companies whose logistics solutions serve as role models for other companies in the automotive industry. The judges' evaluation is based on the cost-effectiveness of the solutions in question. With the prize, the VDA aims to highlight projects that can increase the competitiveness of the German automotive industry. The judges panel is made up of representatives from academia, an OEM, a supplier, specialist media, a logistics association, and the VDA.
Bosch to invest some 160 million euros in India in 2014
Boost for local research and development
Research and Technology Center will focus on software solutions for internet of things and services
Stuttgart/Bangalore – The Bosch Group is further expanding its business in India. This year, the supplier of technology and services intends to invest some 160 million euros in extending its locations in the country. The investments will focus on extending existing manufacturing sites and research and development facilities. The company announced this at today’s official opening of the new Bosch research center in Bangalore. “India will continue to play a key role for the Bosch Group, even if the next few years will present a few challenges given the recent drop in automotive sales in the country,” said Peter Tyroller, the Bosch management board member responsible for Asia Pacific.
The Research and Technology Center (RTC) Bangalore will focus on the development of connected technologies for the internet of things and services. Other focal points will be methods and tools for the efficient design of software-intensive systems, as well as image processing. The research center is part of the Bosch Group’s second largest development site, employing 10,500 researchers and engineers. One example of the effectiveness of localized development is the two-wheeler engine management system developed for the Indian market. This is now available in Europe as well. Customers from around the world will be able to see such innovations for themselves at a separate Bosch event. This is being staged to coincide with the Auto Expo trade show from February 5 to 8. Further information are available here.
Expansion of Indian manufacturing facilities Over the past two years, the Bosch Group has increased its presence in India. In 2013, its subsidiary Bosch Rexroth opened a new plant in Ahmedabad. And, as India’s largest automotive supplier, Bosch has expanded its manufacturing facility for automotive parts in Chennai. Chennai is also the site of a new Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte plant, currently under construction. In 2012, Bosch opened a new, larger manufacturing facility for packaging machinery in Verna and a manufacturing facility for heating systems in Kumbalgodu. By 2015, a diesel plant will have been moved from Adugodi in the center of Bangalore to a larger site in Bidadi, roughly 30 kilometers away. In the future, the existing Adugodi location will be used for administrative purposes as well as for research and development work.
Bosch in India Bosch has been present in India since 1922. The company currently employs some 26,000 associates at 10 manufacturing sites and 7 research and development locations in the country. The leading global supplier of technology and services is well positioned in India. Its four business sectors Automotive Technology, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology are all present in the country. In 2012, Bosch generated sales of 1.5 billion euros in India. Over the medium-to-long term, the company expects stable growth in the region.
Footage (download-links): http://bit.ly/1lv8E6M: Scenes of typical Indian traffic in Bangalore, renowned Mekhri Circle underpass mural http://bit.ly/1n6bM4B: Outdoor shots: Grounds, buildings, and the immediate environment of the Bosch software site in Bangalore http://bit.ly/1djUBXL Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions: Software development in Bangalore: Practical testing of multimedia and satellite navigation software on the test rig
Bosch CEO Denner: “The breadth of our technological expertise and our presence in diverse sectors of the economy are crucial advantages in a connected world.”
Sales up 2.7 percent to 46.4 billion euros
Disregarding extraordinary burdens from photovoltaics, EBIT margin at roughly 6 percent
Stuttgart – According to preliminary figures, the Bosch Group increased its sales by 2.7 percent in 2013, to 46.4 billion euros, and this despite the difficult economic environment (adjusted previous-year figure: 45.2 billion euros). In the form of negative exchange-rate effects to the tune of some 1.5 billion euros, the strong euro places a considerable burden on the sales revenue disclosed by the supplier of technology and services. Earnings have developed fundamentally better, but are once again affected by the situation of the Solar Energy division, which remained difficult in 2013. In early 2013, the company announced its decision to exit its activities in crystalline photovoltaics.
*Note: Due to changes in the law, Bosch no longer includes its fifty-fifty joint ventures in its accounting. This mainly concerns Bosch Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH and ZF Lenksysteme, whose consolidated sales comes to some 7 billion euros. Due to these changes, current figures for sales, result, and headcount are only partially comparable with the figures previously published for 2012.
Progress in earnings According to preliminary figures, and leaving aside the extraordinary burdens caused by photovoltaics, the Bosch Group EBIT margin comes to some 6 percent. This is roughly one percentage point more than in the previous year. Including the extraordinary burdens as a result of photovoltaics, which are likely to total 1.3 billion euros, EBIT margin some 3 percent. “The many measures taken to improve profitability are clearly working. In fact, we have made better progress with result than expected,” said Dr. Volkmar Denner, chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. In 2014, Bosch will continue to work without let-up on improving its competitiveness and fitness for the future. As regards the targets for sales growth and margin, Denner said: “We have already made progress. We will continue to focus on profitability, growth, and agility.”
Seizing growth opportunities – opening up new market segments The company wants to unlock existing potential for growth and open up new market segments. Various future trends are relevant for Bosch here. Apart from energy efficiency and connectivity, there is the high-spending aging population in the industrialized countries and the rapidly growing middle class in the emerging markets of Asia and South America. Bosch is also working intensively on the mobility of the future, which will be electric, automated, and connected. In 2013, Bosch launched many products and services related to these trends. They include highly efficient gasoline and diesel injection systems, driver assistance systems such as motorcycle stability control, mySPIN smartphone integration solution, telematics services for the management of vehicle fleets, and robotics applications such as the “Indego” lawnmower.
Shaping and participating – Bosch in the connected world Bosch especially wants to open up new market segments with solutions for connected living. “The breadth of our technological expertise and our presence in diverse sectors of the economy are crucial advantages in a connected world. We want to play an active role in shaping that world, and at the same time take advantage of the business opportunities it offers. Bosch’s strategic objective is to create solutions for a connected world,” Denner said. For many, connectivity is already a reality. By 2015, some 75 percent of global population will be online, along with more than 6 billion devices. In Bosch’s view, however, this only scratches the surface of the potential opportunities. In the future, the company will make all its electronic appliances web-enabled. “Connectivity will open up new possibilities for all our areas of work. This goes for mobility, for industrial technology, and especially for energy and building technology – also in connection with our consumer goods,” Denner said.
Systematic preparation: activities and partnerships As the world’s leading sensor manufacturer in terms of sales, the web-enabled MEMS sensors supplied by Bosch are a key technical component for connectivity on the internet of things and services. Moreover, at the beginning of the year Bosch set up a subsidiary for the development and sales of connected terminal devices and solutions based on them. Bosch Connected Devices and Solutions GmbH is headquartered in Reutlingen, where the electronics competence center is based. The company was originally an innovation cluster. Bosch uses these cross-divisional clusters to develop new business ideas for a connected world. There are further clusters related to connected buildings, connected mobility, and connected energy. For example, Bosch will be working with partner companies to make a software platform available for standardized data exchange in smart homes. “Alliances are key drivers of the trend toward connectivity,” Denner said. Since November 2013, Bosch has been testing technologies that will allow the digital networking of an entire city in the “Monaco 3.0” pilot project. “Our broad footprint and technological expertise, combined with the creativity and motivation of our associates, are absolutely essential for innovation and growth,” Denner said. Apart from exploiting new market opportunities for connected living, Bosch will continue to make use of every opportunity that presents itself for its traditional business.
Volatility calls for agility Driven mainly by internet technologies, the connected world is dynamic, complex, and volatile as well. “The way the internet has risen over the past 20 years, as well as some of its repercussions, could not have been predicted. This will be true of future developments as well. As a result, we have to be fast and agile when dealing with a connected world,” Denner said. Increasingly, therefore, Bosch will be starting up new business activities to test their potential. Here, a key role will be played by Bosch Start-up GmbH, a company recently set up in Ludwigsburg, Germany. It will assume the role of an incubator for new business ideas and models. The team will help Bosch researchers quickly launch products and services. Bosch Start-up GmbH will make things such as infrastructure and business economics know-how available to new units with potential for growth. “An entrepreneurial mindset on the part of all associates and a culture that sees failure as part of the learning process are key factors for success. We want to further encourage and strengthen these factors,” Denner said. “We have to boldly venture into new territory and push back boundaries.
Business developments by business sector and region in 2013 The sales developments of the business sectors are also affected by significant exchange-rate effects. The Automotive Technology and Consumer Goods business sectors are especially hard hit by these effects. Regardless of this, the Automotive Technology business sector developed extremely positively in 2013. Its business with gasoline direct injection and diesel injection systems grew significantly. The Car Multimedia division was very successful with display instruments and infotainment systems. In Industrial Technology, the packaging machinery business was able to record good growth. By contrast, the global weakness of the mechanical engineering sector caused a considerable slump in the Drive and Control Technology division. In Consumer Goods, Bosch was once again successful with power tools in 2013, both for professional and DIY users. Developments in the Energy and Building Technology business sector were overshadowed by the situation in the Solar Energy division, which was again difficult in 2013. The Security Systems division was able to generate strong growth with communications services, while the Thermotechnology division was successful with energy efficient condensing appliances.
Significant sales growth outside Europe The strong euro had significant negative effects on the development of regional sales. Nonetheless, nominal Asia Pacific sales exceeded their previous-year level by some 5 percent. After adjusting for exchange-rate effects, sales growth even reached double digits. In North America, nominal growth was more than 3 percent according to preliminary figures. At roughly minus 3 percent in nominal terms, sales developed negatively in South America. When adjusted for exchange-rate effects, however, sales grew by a high single-digit figure. Despite an economy that remained very weak, nominal sales in Europe grew slightly, by some 2 percent.
Slight increase in headcount in Asia and North America Worldwide, the Bosch Group had a total of some 281,000 associates at the beginning of 2014 (adjusted previous-year figure: 273,000 associates). In current business, headcount increased by roughly 1,000. Most of these new jobs were in Asia and North America.
Moderate economic prospects for 2014 According to current forecasts, Bosch expects the economy to develop moderately in 2014. As things stand at present, global GDP is expected to grow by 2.8 percent. The company sees risks in the further development of the countries affected by the euro crisis, as well as in a further appreciation of the euro. Against this background, the Bosch Group expects sales to grow slightly in 2014, with its earnings situation continuing to improve.