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Bosch is turning robots into colleagues

Workplace 4.0 adjusts to the employee

  • Dr. Stefan Hartung: “People and machines will work more closely together than ever before. Industry 4.0 makes work easier”
  • Adaptable production allows manufacturers to react quickly to market needs
  • More than one billion euros in extra sales at Bosch by 2020

Hannover – Gently, he grasps the metal part and passes it to his colleague. As he does so, he pays close attention to all her movements so he can stop before they bump into each other. Despite his height of 1.75 meters, his movements are effortless and careful, and he doesn’t make a single mistake. “He” is the APAS assistant. This robot, which can collaborate with people without any physical contact, is part of Workplace 4.0, a concept Bosch is presenting at Hannover Messe 2017. Industrial workspaces of the future are fully connected and focus on the needs of employees. “In the coming decades, everyday work in the manufacturing industry will undergo fundamental changes. People and machines will work more closely together than ever before. Industry 4.0 supports workers and makes their work easier,” said Dr. Stefan Hartung, a member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH whose responsibilities include the Industrial Technology business sector.

A workstation that automatically adapts to the worker

At Hannover Messe, Bosch is introducing Workplace 4.0: a workstation that adapts to the worker. For example, the work surface positions itself at the right height, and workers can receive their instructions as a projection at whatever speed they choose. “Digital connectivity and production assistants will make day-to-day work in the industrial sector safer, easier, and more productive,” said Hartung. Automotive manufacturers and suppliers are already using collaborative robots such as Bosch’s APAS assistant, but so are producers of consumer goods.

Artificial intelligence supports workers in the production environment

Workplace 4.0 envisions people and machines working closely together, a fact clearly illustrated by the APAS inspector, too, which is likewise making an appearance in Hannover. With the help of a learning image-processing function, the APAS inspector automatically detects when the surface of a production part does not correspond to its specifications. The worker teaches the machine just once regarding how much deviation to tolerate and at what point a part has to be scrapped. Thanks to artificial intelligence, the machine can then apply what it has learned to all subsequent quality checks and carry them out independently. The APAS inspector saves human workers from having to do this monotonous task and ensures a consistently high level of quality for all parts.

Connectivity enables a constant overview of machine data

Connectivity means machine data generated in Workplace 4.0 can be compiled, analyzed, and visualized. Workers can view information on the status of the production environment – for instance, via cycle-time analysis or part and error counters – on a single screen. They can check at any time to see if everything is running according to plan. “Many tasks that used to cost workers time unnecessarily can now be handled quickly and simply, thanks to digital connectivity. In the manufacturing sector, Industry 4.0 makes an enormous difference in easing the burden of day-to-day work,” said Dr. Stefan Aßmann, head of Connected Industry at Bosch, at the Hannover Messe advance press conference. According to a study by the consulting firm Accenture, 63 percent of the workforce expects increasing digital connectivity will improve their working conditions, with just 6 percent expecting the opposite.

Production lines automatically detect the necessary work steps

Nowadays, industrial enterprises and their employees have to be able to quickly respond to new requirements. “With a flexible production facility, companies can better react to the current needs of the market,” said Aßmann. He gave Bosch’s multi-product line in Homburg, Germany, as an example. There, Bosch can manufacture 200 different hydraulic modules from more than 2,000 different components. Thanks to connectivity, these components are automatically ordered in time. The modules control the work and driving hydraulics in trucks or tractors, which help do things such as incline loading surfaces or lift a plow. The production line’s nine stations are connected by a smart network. With an RFID chip attached to each workpiece, the stations know how the finished product has to be assembled and what steps are necessary. The work plans required for assembling the hydraulics components are automatically called up and shown on the monitors as a photo or video. The display is customized to each associate’s level of training, and shown in their native language. The aim is to offer associates the best possible support in their work.

Bosch offers everything concerning connectivity from a single source

Bosch has been working with Industry 4.0 solutions for several years now. With more than 270 manufacturing locations around the world, the company has extensive experience in industrial technology and in the use of software, services, and cloud solutions. As a leading user and leading provider, Bosch offers everything for production and the entire supply chain from a single source. The Industry 4.0 offerings for customers include not just software and product solutions for manufacturing and logistics, but also services and consulting, resulting in concepts that are tailored to each customer. With Industry 4.0 solutions, Bosch hopes to generate extra sales of over one billion euros and to save another billion by the year 2020.

Expansion of activities with partner country Poland

In Poland, this year’s partner country of Hannover Messe, Bosch employs some 5,100 associates and posts annual sales of more than one billion euros. The technology company sells many products there, including Industry 4.0 solutions. Bosch has had a regional company in Poland since 1992, but began selling its products in the country at the beginning of the 20th century. It is continuously expanding its activities there: in 2016, Bosch invested some 80 million euros in the country, primarily in expanding and developing its manufacturing sites.

Tags: Industry 4.0, Internet of Things

About Bosch

The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 390,000 associates worldwide (as of December 31, 2016). 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 manufacturing. 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 deliver innovations for a connected life. Bosch improves 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 440 subsidiaries and regional companies in some 60 countries. Including sales and service partners, Bosch’s global manufacturing 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 some 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 upfront 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.

Additional information is available online at www.bosch.com, iot.bosch.com,www.bosch-press.com, www.twitter.com/BoschPresse