Bosch presented an autonomous transport system at the Hannover Fair with visual detection of defects using artificial intelligence and 3D printing in combination with 5G. The company pushes towards Industry 4.0 and the benefits it offers.
Industry 4.0 has clearly become an important part of a factory: over the past four years, Bosch has sold sales of over EUR 1.5 billion with Industry 4.0 applications. Starting in 2022, Bosch plans to generate annual sales of over EUR 1 billion with Industry 4.0. The company presented the future factory at the Hannover Fair: autonomous transport vehicles deliver components to digital workspaces, robotic solutions support workers in production, and quality control is achieved through Artificial Intelligence (IA). Thanks to 5G technology, communication between machines and systems takes place smoothly and almost in real time.
Industry 4.0 enhances competitiveness
Bosch first recognized the potential of Industry 4.0: the company has begun to link production and logistics in 2012. This strategy increases competitiveness and the Bosch Industrial Technology sector is experiencing strong growth: according to preliminary figures, it recorded an increase of 8.9 percent. After adjusting according to exchange rate fluctuations, the increase was 11 percent. Sales rose to EUR 7.4 billion.
“Industry 4.0 brings many benefits. Digital and connected solutions increase the efficiency, flexibility and productivity of factories,” said Rolf Najork, a member of the board of directors, who oversees the development of this industry.
Bosch projects confirm this. For example, the plant in Blaichach in southern Germany has introduced modern production technologies that increased the volume of ABS and ESP systems by 200 percent in just six years – without capacity expansion or new purchases.
Bosch enters the intralogistics market
“If you want the idea of the future factory to take shape, you will see that the differences disappear, and production and logistics must be thought of as one element. It’s the only way Industry 4.0 can have chances of success in practice,” says Najork.
At the Hannover Fair, Bosch Rexroth presents ActiveShuttle: this stand-alone transport vehicle transports the materials from the warehouse to the exact place on the production line. An integrated platform facilitates self-loading and unloading so that workers do not have to move a finger. Equipped with laser scanners, ActiveShuttle finds its own way, recognizes other vehicles and people – and perhaps even learns: the transport system creates its own map of the location and updates it continuously.
The software creates industry base 4.0
The three pillars of success in the factory of the future are people, machines and data. To ensure they work together harmoniously, they need smart software.
“Industry 4.0 cannot exist without software. Through our Bosch Connected Industry division, we strengthen our leadership in Industry 4.0 applications and bring together software and service expertise under the name of NeXeed,” said Stefan Aßmann, director of Bosch’s Connected Industry Division.
This division helps company customers to monitor shipments, produce products quickly and efficiently and deliver these products on time and in safety. For example: Using NeXeed Track and Trace, the merchandise itself transmits information about where it is located, temperature and vibration. Logistics experts can therefore permanently monitor the status of the merchandise and determine whether the goods will arrive in time.
Artificial Intelligence is an essential technology for the future
With artificial intelligence, machines can learn how to act intelligently and anticipate. This has tremendous potential because machines release people from difficult tasks that take a long time.
“Bosch believes artificial intelligence is a key technology. Our goal is that by the middle of the next decade all our products will be equipped with artificial intelligence or artificial intelligence to contribute to their development and manufacture,” says Najork.
To accomplish this goal, Bosch focuses on secure, solid and expedient artificial intelligence. At the Hannover Fair, Bosch presented ViPAS, a visual quality control system based on artificial intelligence. Equipped with a grip, state-of-the-art video camera and smart software, the system is simple and easy to use. In a pilot project at the Bosch plant in Nuremberg, ViPAS has completed 12,000 test procedures with a 99.9 percent success rate. This means that ViPAS has determined whether the parts are “okay” or “not okay” with an almost perfect precision. The next step is to refine ViPAS technology internally to prepare it for use in different factories.
5G accelerates Industry 4.0
The new 5G mobile communication standard plays an essential role in many industry applications 4.0. 5G transmits data at a speed up to 100 times faster than the previous standard. The reliability level has increased, while delays in data transmission have been reduced to a minimum.
“5G will represent the central nervous system of the factory of the future,” estimates Andreas Müller, Bosch researcher and 5G-ACG Alliance president for Connected Industries and Automation (5G-ACIA).
In order to outline the new mobile communications standard from the outset so as to align with the future needs of the industry, Bosch took over the headquarters of the organization set up in 2018. So far, the initiative has brought together over 40 companies and research institutions around the world. Bosch plans to test 5G technology in its own plants by the end of this year. At the Hannover Fair, Bosch joined its Nokia, Qualcomm and BigRep partners to present the benefits of the new standard. In this sense, companies will first connect a 3D printer using 5G technology. By doing so, some control elements normally integrated into the device will be taken over by a local production cloud. Devices with this feature are easier to maintain at low cost.