Stuttgart – Bosch wants to remove one of the biggest barriers for smaller companies seeking to enter connected industry. The company is seizing the initiative and presenting a new, open industry standard it has developed in-house for the exchange of data in connected industry. This will enable interplay between a wide variety of partners in the internet of things (IoT) and in Industry 4.0. Known as the Production Performance Management Protocol (PPMP), the new standard will for instance support the quick, easy, and secure transfer of data from sensors that SMEs supply to manufacturers to the production systems of large companies. The protocol is freely available and free of charge. This removes barriers to entry into connected industry. “Open standards are one of the fundamental prerequisites for making use of the opportunities Industry 4.0 presents. By letting everyone participate in data exchange, they increase interoperability, enable new business models, and enhance the competitiveness of all the companies involved,” said Bosch CEO Dr. Volkmar Denner. “This will help Industry 4.0 to become more widely established more quickly: companies large and small will be able to integrate their products more quickly. Both German industry and the global economy stand to benefit.”
Data improves production management
The new standard developed by Bosch experts supports Production Performance Management (PPM), a process that is central to Industry 4.0. It uses sensors to collect great quantities of data from manufacturing for analysis, with the aim of further improving production processes. Are all the components along a production line really working together as effectively as possible? Is one component slowing the process down? Is one piece of equipment drawing an unusually large amount of power? Is a motor overheating and possibly about to fail? A PPM system can answer these and other similar questions – and correct faults. At the same time, PPM makes efficient, comprehensive production management possible.
Bosch creates easy-to-understand machine language
The best possible management of production processes calls for the many sensors and machines in a manufacturing facility to deliver their data to the central PPM software. This is a complicated undertaking, as until now all these machines and sensors have spoken many different languages. It is difficult to get them to communicate with each other, but Bosch has developed the PPMP to enable machines and sensors to communicate better. Like Bosch, many large companies put many components supplied by third parties – frequently specialized SMEs – to work in their manufacturing facilities. These components can be integrated into a production environment quickly, easily, and cheaply. Meanwhile, open standards help SMEs better integrate their products into the manufacturing systems of their large and small customers so both sides benefit. What’s more, the PPMP underpins mechanical engineers’ ability to connect their machinery directly with software. This means any machine faults can be reported to an app. The person in charge immediately sees the reason for the fault on their smartphone, along with an approach to take to resolve the problem.
Open source helps everyone make progress
The new standard is being further developed in the Eclipse open source community. Initial practical experience with it will also feed into this work, which means anyone can use the protocol free of charge. Several SMEs ( Balluff, EGT, Rampf, Cadis, KLW, Schmalz) already support this initiative, which was launched by Bosch. Other companies are expressly invited to get involved. In addition, the shared standard will be used in an innovation project, or testbed, overseen by the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) and the Germany-based Plattform Industrie 4.0. Located at Bosch’s Homburg plant, the testbed is a collaboration of Tata Consulting, Dassault Systèmes, SAP, and Bosch. Thanks to this new data exchange standard, a production management system there is already receiving data from a variety of different objects, as well as machine data and energy consumption figures. “Many concepts and technologies for the Industry 4.0 era have yet to appear. In order to validate them and bring them to market, testbeds like the one in Homburg involving the IIC are very strategically important,” Denner said. “At the same time, they offer smaller companies an opportunity to participate in IoT value chains.”
Bosch joins the Labs Network Industrie 4.0
This is also why Bosch recently joined the Labs Network Industrie 4.0. Launched by industry representatives and Germany’s Bitkom, VDMA, and ZVEI associations, the network aims to promote German SMEs’ implementation of Industry 4.0 technologies. The Labs Network is the first port of call for questions relating to the development of Industry 4.0 solutions.
The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 390,000 associates worldwide (as of December 31, 2016). According to preliminary figures, the company generated sales of 73.1 billion euros in 2016. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. As a leading IoT company, Bosch offers innovative solutions for smart homes, smart cities, connected mobility, and connected industry. It uses its expertise in sensor technology, software, and services, as well as its own IoT cloud, to offer its customers connected, cross-domain solutions from a single source. The Bosch Group’s strategic objective is to create solutions for a connected life, and to improve quality of life worldwide with products and services that are innovative and spark enthusiasm. In short, Bosch creates technology that is “Invented for life.” The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 450 subsidiaries and regional companies in some 60 countries. Including sales and service partners, Bosch’s global manufacturing, engineering, and sales network covers nearly every country in the world. The basis for the company’s future growth is its innovative strength. At 120 locations across the globe, Bosch employs 59,000 associates in research and development.
The company was set up in Stuttgart in 1886 by Robert Bosch (1861-1942) as “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering.” The special ownership structure of Robert Bosch GmbH guarantees the entrepreneurial freedom of the Bosch Group, making it possible for the company to plan over the long term and to undertake significant up-front investments in the safeguarding of its future. Ninety-two percent of the share capital of Robert Bosch GmbH is held by Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, a charitable foundation. The majority of voting rights are held by Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG, an industrial trust. The entrepreneurial ownership functions are carried out by the trust. The remaining shares are held by the Bosch family and by Robert Bosch GmbH.