With Bosch in lead role, partners on the AMELI 4.0 project are developing the industry sensors of the future
Modified MEMS sensors measure machinery noise to monitor operating status
System to work without need for external energy sources, preventing downtimes and improving maintenance
Stuttgart – Headed by Bosch, seven partners are collaborating on a project, called AMELI 4.0, to develop the sensor system of the future for connected manufacturing, or Industry 4.0. The system is intended to monitor machines and immediately detect deviations from their normal operating status. With the system’s help, factories can go a long way toward preventing machines from having unplanned downtimes. Instead of adhering to rigid maintenance intervals, companies can maintain their equipment precisely when it is needed. This approach is expected to cut the costs of maintaining, inspecting, and repairing machines by up to 30 percent. AMELI 4.0 is a research project aimed at improving the market position of German companies with regard to Industry 4.0. For this reason, it is being funded to the tune of 3.84 million euros by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of its “IKT 2020 – Research for Innovation” program.
Tough demands on sensors Sensors play a key role in Industry 4.0 as the artificial “eyes and ears” of machines and workpieces, for which they capture information about condition and performance. To facilitate intelligent management and connectivity in manufacturing, the sensors have to collect and process huge amounts of data in real time. They also need to be as energy efficient as possible and be easy to integrate into complex production systems. The industry sensors currently in widespread use are limited in their usefulness for Industry 4.0. For many applications, they are not smart or flexible enough, consume too much energy, and are too expensive.
MEMS sensors for industry To fulfill the objectives of the AMELI 4.0 research project, the researchers are turning to one of the key technologies of the connected world: MEMS sensors (MEMS stand for microelectromechanical systems). Even now, it is impossible to imagine cars and consumer electronics without MEMS sensors. They are the core component of the ESP® anti-skid system, for example, and also ensure that the display on a smartphone screen rotates when the device is turned. Compared to conventional industrial sensors, MEMS sensors are small, smart, energy efficient, and economical. However, in many respects they are not yet robust or powerful enough for the demands of an industrial environment. This means that some of the potential to apply condition monitoring in production systems is going untapped. The AMELI 4.0 research team plans to further develop MEMS sensors to make them suitable for industrial applications. Energy supply plays a major role here: the new system will not require either power cables or batteries. It is designed to be completely self-sufficient by generating the necessary power itself from the machines’ vibrations (energy harvesting).
The difference is in the sound To monitor the machines, the new sensor system will measure two types of noise: structure-borne sound, meaning vibrations inside the machine, and acoustic sound, meaning noise emitted by the machine. When a machine is not working as planned, it vibrates and sounds different than it does when operating normally. The system compares the measured signals with stored profiles. It continues learning, and takes action only if the changes in the signals indicate a defect or wear and tear. As a result, in the future the sensor system will be able to detect when a machine needs maintenance or repair. In more complex systems, this smart evaluation can be handled by the gateway (or router as it is sometimes called), to which the sensors transmit their data, or the manufacturing facility’s computer network.
Research in the network The AMELI 4.0 project brings together institutes and industry partners that are global leaders in their respective fields – sensor technology, systems and mechanical engineering, condition monitoring of machines, energy conversion, and microtechnology – in their efforts to drive innovations forward. Robert Bosch GmbH, the market leader for MEMS sensors, is spearheading the project. The other partners are Siemens AG, Hahn Schickard Gesellschaft, the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology IPK, Binder-Elektronik GmbH, Schaudt Mikrosa GmbH, and Stackforce GmbH. The name AMELI 4.0 stands for micro-electromechanical system for condition monitoring in Industry 4.0. Launched in December 2015, the project is scheduled to conclude at the end of 2018.
“Robust multi-sensor technology for status monitoring in Industry 4.0 applications” (RoMulus) research project
Eleven partners researching new development methods for intelligent multi-sensor systems
Cost-effective manufacturing, even in small quantities
German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is sponsoring the project
Stuttgart, Germany – Multi-sensor systems form a crucial basis for the success of Industry 4.0 applications. They record, process, and transmit a number of measurement parameters, such as pressure, acceleration, and temperature, all in a highly compact space. Machines are not the only ones to receive such sensors; workpieces are also increasingly being fitted with the intelligent sensor systems so that each product can provide its blueprint and report its manufacturing status. Based on this information, production is largely able to organize and monitor itself.
Eleven research partners now aim to simplify and accelerate the development of intelligent multi-sensor systems. As part of the RoMulus project, they want to standardize and refine the steps leading up to the finished product in such a way that it is possible to produce even small quantities in a cost-effective manner. As a result, they are improving the market position of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in the sensor technology sector.
In the future, SMEs will be able to offer their industrial customers customized sensor systems with considerably less effort and expense. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is supporting the RoMulus project as part of the IKT 2020 incentive program to the tune of approximately 4.5 million euros, which covers some 70 percent of the total investment amount.
Challenging development The development of multi-sensor systems for Industry 4.0 applications is challenging. The task is to combine two technologies in a highly compact space, namely microelectromechanical sensors (MEMS), which measure mechanical parameters, such as pressure and acceleration, and microelectronic sensor components, which determine temperature, light intensity, and chemical concentrations. The finished systems must process large amounts of data in the most energy-efficient manner possible. Furthermore, they need to be robust enough to function reliably in an industrial setting.
Collaboration with semiconductor manufacturers and service providers The German sensor technology sector predominantly comprises small and medium-sized enterprises. As a general rule, they are unable to cover all of the services themselves that are necessary for the development and production of multi-sensor systems, which is why they rely on close collaboration with semiconductor manufacturers and service providers for research and development. “We want to disentangle and standardize this collaboration – and thereby the design and manufacturing processes,” says project coordinator Dr. Eckhard Hennig, professor at Reutlingen University. In the future, SMEs will be able to select and compile development services as well as electronic components as if from a large kit, depending on what solution the customer requires for their very specific industrial application.
“RoMulus makes it possible to systematically design and cost-effectively manufacture robust, energy-efficient multi-sensor systems, even in small quantities. As a result, German sensor technology manufacturers are leading the field in terms of creating an important technological basis for Industry 4.0 applications,” explains Dr. Reinhard Neul from Robert Bosch GmbH.
Eleven partners from research and industry As part of the RoMulus project, eleven partners are pooling their expertise – from semiconductor manufacturers and development companies to SMEs. They are as follows: Zeiss, the Fraunhofer Institute IIS/EAS, Reutlingen University, Institut für Mikroelektronik- und Mechatronik-Systeme gemeinnützige GmbH, microsensys GmbH, Robert Bosch GmbH, the Technical University of Munich, TETRA Gesellschaft für Sensorik, Robotik und Automation mbH, the University of Bremen, the University of Freiburg, and X-FAB Semiconductor Foundries AG. The edacentrum in Hanover is responsible for project management. The abbreviation RoMulus stands for “robust multi-sensor technology for status monitoring in Industry 4.0 applications.” The project began in October 2015 and is scheduled to last three years.
Bosch strengthens regional presence in Sweden: 50 engineers to start
Mutual inspiration and creativity at highly innovative location
Cross-domain collaboration enables synergies and lays foundation for new ideas
Lund, Sweden – Bosch is now also developing connected solutions in the Swedish city of Lund. The company's first engineering location in Scandinavia already has 50 Bosch experts on board. They are working on new software and hardware in areas such as vehicle connectivity, automotive security systems, and motorized two-wheelers. In addition, they are developing cross-domain solutions for connecting mobility with, for example, energy and building technology over the IoT. By bringing together development activities for a number of different areas at a single location, Bosch hopes to facilitate mutual inspiration. “We are systematically driving forward the development of connected, cross-domain solutions over the IoT with the aim of making life more secure and convenient,” said Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, a member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. “To this end, we're focusing on cross-divisional collaboration that enables synergies and creates the basis for new ideas and creative solutions.”
Located some 20 kilometers from Malmö, Lund was not chosen by chance: “Sweden is on the global vanguard when it comes to fields of research including information and communications technology. This is exactly the kind of environment we want for our new engineering center,” Hoheisel said. “We're pinning our hopes on Lund's talented software and IT experts.” Sweden's status as a highly innovative economic power mirrors Bosch's own traditionally strong position in research and development (2015: R&D investment totaling 6.4 billion euros, or 9 percent of sales). The country regularly appears near the top of international innovation rankings. On the World Intellectual Property Organization's Global Innovation Index 2015, for example, it occupies third place.
Concentration of innovative strength and entrepreneurial spirit Bosch's new engineering center is located on one level of an office building in Lund's Ideon Science Park. There, around 120,000 square meters of floor space serve as a hotbed of innovative strength and entrepreneurship. The approximately 2,700 people employed in the science park include developers working for established companies and start-ups, as well as entrepreneurs. The University of Lund borders the park directly. Incubators and regular conferences foster and create synergies both among different areas of business and with the university. The focus is on the service sector, culture, and the creative industries, as well as start-ups and the internet of things.
In addition to being a university town (around a third of the more than 80,000 inhabitants are university students), Lund is also the birthplace of several major technological advancements for the connected world, including Bluetooth technology and biometric fingerprint scanners. “Thanks to our cross-domain expertise in connectivity, Bosch is extremely well-positioned to benefit from this. Our prospects are excellent for making history one day in Lund as well,” Hoheisel said. Along with expertise in the areas of sensors, software, and services, the company has outstanding hardware competence. In addition, Bosch can connect different domains with each other, such as smart homes, smart cities, connected mobility, and Industry 4.0. With its own recently-launched IoT cloud, Bosch now also possesses the necessary infrastructure. This offers the company new perspectives not only in its traditional areas of business, but also in completely new fields of activity.
Bosch in Sweden Bosch has been present in Sweden since 1904. All four Bosch business sectors – Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology – are active in the country. The company employs just under 1,500 associates at five major locations in the country, including two plants. In Mellansel, the Bosch Rexroth subsidiary produces drive and control technology, while in Tranas the Thermotechnology division manufactures heat pumps. In 2015, the company generated domestic sales of some 950 million euros.
Press contacts for Bosch's activities in Sweden: Trix Böhne Phone: +49 711 811-6831
Inger Rosen, Telefon: +46 8 750-1644
Press contact for Bosch's mobility solutions activities: Stephan Kraus, Phone +49 711 811-6286