The fast track to success with agile product development

White asparagus cultivation 2.0: Bosch creates new sensor solution in just three weeks

  • Name of the "scrum" process comes from rugby
  • Agile product development for greater speed and flexibility
  • Award from Tesla for especially rapid implementation of a project

Stuttgart, Germany – In the space of just three weeks, Bosch experts successfully developed a new connected sensor solution for white asparagus cultivation, which can be used to transmit information to smartphones about the temperature in the soil mounds in which the sought-after vegetable is grown. The sensor solution allows farmers to track temperature changes in detail, which helps ensure ideal growing conditions. The short development time was made possible through the use of agile processes. Bosch is increasingly applying methods normally used in software development for achieving fast results to product development as well. “Agile developments such as these make sense especially if the technology or solutions to be developed are not clear at the outset, or the demands made of a new product are going to change over time. These methods are making us faster and more flexible,” Bosch CEO Dr. Volkmar Denner said on Tuesday at the largest German conference dedicated to agile development – “Scrum Day” in Filderstadt, Germany, just outside Stuttgart.

Agile and unconventional
The new sensor solution is just one example that demonstrates that the supplier of technology and services is becoming more agile in many areas, including product development. “With the help of new and unconventional methods, we are able to respond even better than before to new customer requirements and increasingly volatile markets,” said Denner, who is also responsible for corporate research and advance engineering on the Bosch board of management. The scrum process is one of these new methods. It manages without detailed targets in many cases, though it quickly results in very good solutions. Some 300 experts are participating at a conference on this topic in Filderstadt, including Jeff Sutherland, who is one of the two creators of the scrum process.

Small teams, more responsibility
The term “scrum” comes from the sport of rugby, in which it denotes a pack of players that attempt to gain possession of the ball. When applied to the world of business, the concept stands for small teams that work with great focus and motivation to jointly develop a product. In the scrum process, teams assume more responsibility than they would normally and self-organize to a large extent. During periods known as sprints, they work towards achieving small intermediate goals and define the next steps. The teams work in especially close cooperation with customers and users, and feedback is given at very short intervals. Since the early 2000s, use of the scrum process has been growing. It first became popular in the IT world, and now it is growing more common in the development of hardware products. Developers from various Bosch divisions collaborated on the new sensor solution for white asparagus cultivation.

Example 1: The white asparagus project
White asparagus grows best at temperatures of between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius. Among other methods, farmers can achieve this range by covering the soil mounds with plastic sheets, though they must take weather reports into account if they use these sheets. The Bosch solution consists of several temperature sensors. They are placed into the soil at different depths and record the temperature level. Cables relay the measured values to a small box, where the data is wirelessly transmitted to a cloud platform based on the Bosch IoT suite. From there, the data makes its way to an app on famers’ smartphones. “Once again, we have combined our expertise in sensor technology with our internet of things know-how,” Denner said.

Proving useful in the current season
Thanks to the agile approach, the white asparagus project was completed in just three weeks. During this time, the team members created the wireless connection, programmed the app, located farmers to partner with, and adapted the cloud, among other tasks. At the end of the three weeks, the first two systems were finished; another eight systems were ready just six days later. As a result, the farmers had smartphone access to information on the soil temperature and how it changes throughout the course of the day. The temperature-regulation system was immediately ready for use in fields during the 2015 white asparagus season. The agile development process was also dictated by Mother Nature herself, since the white asparagus season only lasts from April to June. The basic principle implemented in the Bosch solution can also be applied to cultivating other agricultural crops. Bosch is currently looking into industrializing and marketing the new system.

Example 2: Agile collaboration with partner Tesla
Agile development also proved useful in the company’s collaboration with Tesla, for whose electric vehicles Bosch supplies chassis and safety systems. Many of these components can be precisely adapted to the requirements of the respective vehicle and the desired handling. Together with Tesla, this adjustment, referred to as an application, was carried out within a short period of time. “This collaborative effort was well suited to the use of agile development methods. In recognition of the successful partnership, Bosch was presented with Tesla’s Excellent Development Partner Award in 2014. Once more, this proves that Bosch is able to adapt to a wide range of customer requirements, including those of new market players as well,” Denner said. Altogether, only half of the usual development time was needed for the application with Tesla.

Bosch-CEO Dr. Volkmar Denner @ ConnectedWorld Blog
on agile projects embedded in an agile organization:

Scrum Day 2015 homepage

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

Tags: Product, Development, Filderstadt, Vernetzte Sensorlösung

About Bosch

The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 410,000 associates worldwide (as of December 31, 2018). The company generated sales of 78.5 billion euros in 2018. 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 460 subsidiary and regional companies in over 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 nearly 130 locations across the globe, Bosch employs some 68,700 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.

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