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The shopfloor of the future would have smart machines that are connected to each other and also to a central network system and would support smooth and flexible operations

Image: Bosch

Industry 4.0 Towards smart & sustainable manufacturing

May 11, 2017

Today, digital technology is impacting every aspect of business, creating more opportunities for growth. Strategists are challenged by how best to harness this digitisation to make profitable, value driven decisions, and manufacturers are realising that adopting advanced, smart manufacturing technologies are a qualification to be in the game. Companies have started integrating many advanced automation & cloud technologies in their operations.

To gain a competitive position in the market, manufacturers need to actively understand consumer behaviour and accordingly revamp the company’s role in the ecosystem of partners, suppliers and customers. In the journey towards smart and sustainable manufacturing, to achieve a complete value chain transformation, industries are required to not only digitise essential functions within the internal vertical operations, but also integrate with their horizontal partners along the entire value chain.

In order to accomplish this, transparency and clarity on the status of all aspects of production system in real time is essential. Industry 4.0 delivers this visibility that enables organisations to see the different elements of manufacturing and recognising the different connections between them. It provides the much needed visibility on the most important performance metrics like quality, production output, defect percentage and overall equipment efficiency.

The change is here

The production landscape is changing. Information from different entities of manufacturing form new relationships. There are new links between different nodes of production. The data of a particular production entity can be combined in new ways to solve problems of another entity. Bosch works with customers from diverse industries and there is clear indication that concepts of Industry 4.0 are having a major impact on businesses. It appeals to organisations as a new form of digital business design that can enable them to be fast, reliable and highly flexible.

Shaping the future of ‘Connected’ world

Delivering smart manufacturing concepts, with value driven services requires experience in both cross domain system integration and efficient product manufacturing. Bosch considers both sides of the equation equally important. Hence, we set out a dual strategy approach, playing the role of both the solution provider and user.

In the 250+ plants spread across the world, Bosch produces world class automotive components for mobility solutions, industrial tools, components and several other consumer goods. Most of the Industry 4.0 solutions offered to external customers have already been deployed in our own plants and fine-tuned to produce outstanding results. This practitioner approach is what sets us apart in the customers’ view and positions us as a competent partner to implement such technology intensive solutions.

Future shopfloors & Industry 4.0 portfolio

The shopfloor of the future would have smart machines that are connected to each other and also to a central network system and would support smooth and flexible operations. The revolutionary multi-product line in Bosch Rexroth, Homburg produces 200 variants of hydraulic valves in the same line economically and with no retooling effort. The assembly line connects people, machine & products seamlessly through autonomous workstations that reconfigure themselves to suit the various production needs of the facility and can accommodate a batch size as small as one product. The Blaichach plant, is a paperless factory with fully automated flow of goods, lean logistics, standardised maintenance procedures and has about 5000 connected systems in the production network.

In a typical shopfloor, to perform manufacturing operations seamlessly and efficiently, the right information should be available to the right personnel at the right time to enable them to be present in the right place. Our portfolio of shopfloor management solutions supply this critical production data in real time with situation-oriented information, which enables stakeholders to respond as quickly as possible to faults and malfunctions. Also, it orchestrates the interplay between man, machine, and material for the most optimum resource utilisation and makes ‘paperless manufacturing’ a reality. Traceability provides valuable history of a manufactured lot – to track product genealogy to optimise warranty spends, ensure effective supplier charge backs and to comply with regulations.

Data analytics also benefits in understanding and predicting demand, by recognising patterns in the consumer behaviour, thereby, helping companies alter the way they design, market and deliver products and services. Millions of measurements from cycle times, waste rates, production volumes, etc help in the predictive maintenance of machines, reduce the scrap rate and reduce machine downtime.

Sensors are indispensable to a wide range of industries and developments in industrial sensors are happening at a phenomenal rate. Smart sensors like Bosch’s XDK can be easily installed in manufacturing equipment to automatically log data like temperature, humidity, vibration, hours of operation, etc. It can be used to monitor heavy equipment performance and transmit critical data to trigger timely machine maintenance.

Operator assistance systems for real time representation of equipment health, maintenance of support systems like operator mobility solutions (on tablets and mobile phones) and remote diagnostics (real time status and control) provide everyday tangible support to operation and maintenance personnel.

Our flexible automation solution, the APAS Robot, is truly an Industry 4.0 innovation. Its integrated 3D image processing enables it to recognise objects and has a sensitive three finger gripper. Contrary to the common sight where robots are put to work in cages, the APAS is safe for human robot collaborative work environment and has a speed switch that would slow down movements when it senses a human in its workspace.

Need to adopt Industry 4.0

In India, we see a steady rise in companies increasing their overall level of digitisation. Companies with conventional set-ups are realising that they may be engulfed in technological obsolesce and left behind. Manufacturing plants, which are struggling to achieve higher quality and productivity due to old processes and systems, are making a bold move to new and innovative technologies. Industrial leaders are keen on digitising their essential functions and believe that adopting Industry 4.0 concepts in their operations will help advance their operational efficiency and hence revenue growth.

Many industries are leaning towards beginning their digital journey by implementation of pilot projects and using them to establish proof of concept. This idea of targeting a confined scope and validating the business value of executing it would help industries make an informed decision towards extending it to their entire ecosystem.

In conclusion, manufacturers need to actively understand consumer behaviour and accordingly revamp the company’s role in the ecosystem of partners, suppliers and customers. The conventional model of products being pushed in to the market would transit and herald the new norm of ‘Co-Creation’ where customers will have a collaborative role in the design of products & services.

To stay up to date in this digital age and prepare for this transformation, manufacturers need to upgrade their strategic mindset and encourage their employees to think and act in digital terms, be willing to experiment with new technologies and learn new ways of operating, thereby leading a company wide transformation.

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  • Operator assistance systems for real time representation of equipment health provide everyday tangible support to operation and maintenance personnel

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