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Rolf Najork, President of the Executive Board, Bosch Rexroth AG

Factory of the Future "Making factories Industry 4.0-ready within hours"

Oct 16, 2018

…say Rolf Najork, President of the Executive Board, Bosch Rexroth AG & Hans Bangert, Managing Director, Bosch Rexroth India, in this interaction with Suchi Adhikari. They highlight the significance of catering to the demand of customised products and also elaborate on the factory of the future. Excerpts from the interview…

Can you brief us on the new branding of Bosch Rexroth? Will it bring any change in your operations and approach towards customers and growth strategy?

Najork: Our new branding is very important to us. It is no secret that we face the challenging time for several years but we still managed a very good turnaround. We are coming back to the market stronger than before. We have changed the organisation, the culture and our approach towards customers and technology. This is an achievement we need to highlight. We introduced the new brand at the very important Hannover Messe trade fair in April and it was a huge success.

What are the developments in terms of electronification of all drive technologies for integrated solutions in mobile and industrial applications?

Najork: Bosch Rexroth is looking at connected solutions across all technologies. So, not only are we connecting hydraulics via digital interfaces but are also adding new, easy-to-use sensor technologies that can be utilised in brownfield applications on existing machinery. We want to be in a position to make factories Industry 4.0-ready within hours and we want to be in a position where we can make connections completely wireless in the factory.

What is Bosch Rexroth’s vision for ‘factory of the future’?

Najork: We have created a very strong vision of what the factory will look like in the future. One of our key ideas is that customers want more customised products. This means that we must be in a position to produce small lots of quantities, even a lot size of 1. In order to do this, production needs to change permanently:s Our vision for the factory of the future envisages machinery that keeps on reconfiguring itself flexibly to match the order situation.

The fully connected factory as envisioned by Bosch Rexroth is an intelligent space where the only fixed features are the floor, walls and ceiling.

Everything else can be moved freely; production sets itself up and configures itself flexibly – from one-off to mass production: Machines drive in and out as needed, assembly lines grow or shrink in size, autonomous transport vehicles supply employees with components. Robots work shoulder to shoulder with human colleagues, relieving them of monotonous or strenuous activities. An ultra-fast 5G wireless network allows information exchange in real time. secondly, and this is the long-term vision, it has an inductive charging ground floor.

You spoke elaborately about the factory of the future and the vision and how currently Bosch Rexroth is busy finding this autonomous technology. Is this being done specifically with a goal to be able to cater to whole batch production and cater to the demand of customised products?

Bangert: If you think about lot size 1, you think of an individual watch or classic sport shoes that you can manufacture. However, customising products will play an important role e.g. in the automotive industry. For example, let’s take our company. We make a lot of hydraulics; we make valves one day, or can make pumps the next. If we have a product running for 2, 3 or 4 years, we don’t have to eliminate our equipment afterwards. We keep using it, but differently. There are a number of advantages, including economical, sustainability and technical.

Bosch Rexroth has been manufacturing a substantial portion of components in India. How do you plan to continue ‘local to local’ manufacturing?

Bangert: We have a very modern plant in Ahmedabad, which is only four years old. We have a lot of international customers here, so they expect any product, which is made in India to follow the same specifications as that which is followed in Germany. Hence, every single weld we make in India will have exactly the same calibration, measurement and quality, as made in Germany. Not every technology or specification in Germany or the US is needed at this point of time in India. In some areas, a customer does not need all the bells and whistles, but still needs a top-quality product.

How do you look at the readiness of Indian factories in terms of adapting to digitalisation? This is the very latest technology that is seeping in, but is there enough demand for it yet in India?

Bangert: We find that there is a good demand here, mostly from end users. They want to know about the efficiency of the machines and also when a machine needs maintenance. We not only collect the data from sensors but with predictive maintenance also give them hints about what to do to avoid potential machine failures.

What are Bosch Rexroth’s plans for the Indian market? Which are the industry sectors being targeted for growth?

Bangert: We are definitely looking into India as a strong machine builder and a driver in the industry with a lot of potential. We are also looking at where the government is investing. Providing energy to India is also in the books of the government, especially wind power and solar. We look forward to contribute to the Indian market for example by equipping wind-power generators with pitch control.

Additionally, a lot of tractors are also being built in India. They are all ready for the next level of sophistication. This is another area of interest for us. With the trend of increasing urbanization, Food & Packaging is another upcoming sector where we are keen to contribute in the future.

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  • Hans Bangert, Managing Director, Bosch Rexroth India

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