The goal of producing smarter factories and a vision for connected industry is not just a concept – it is now a reality, and Bosch Rexroth has long been a leading player in this field, being both a pioneer and user of Industry 4.0 technologies.
There has been a lot of talk about Industry 4.0 but few companies have really embraced the so-called fourth industrial revolution in the way Bosch Rexroth has.
The company employs a dual strategy, in which it develops and tests Industry 4.0 technologies in its own factories before rolling out proven solutions to industry.
These solutions are now helping businesses around the world to automate manufacturing and improve productivity. Given its experience in this field, Bosch Rexroth is well placed to demonstrate to UK manufacturers the possibilities that Industry 4.0 can offer and how it can be readily implemented into current facilities.
The IoT Gateway is a good example, allowing SMEs an easy upgrade path to Industry 4.0. The IoT Gateway is a modular device and links to existing machines, providing access to infrastructure, IT and the internet of things without any programming.
It collects data from programmable logic controllers, sensors and smart sensors, enabling easy integration of data analytics and monitoring. The advantages for the user is easy Industry 4.0 migration paths with reduced engineering time and effort, allowing users to scale up their Industry 4.0 capabilities when required.
While Industry 4.0 is almost invariably associated with ever-increasing levels of automation, the role of people in the production environment must never be forgotten.
People are the key players in Industry 4.0 – and the connectivity between production staff and machinery is just as fundamental to the success of an operation as the connections and interaction between individual machines and components.
Bosch Rexroth’s philosophy centres on connecting people with machines, and machines with each other, gathering data and harnessing intelligence to inform production decision-making in real time.
Digital assistance functions and intelligent workplace layouts can support employees with contextual information and improved ergonomics, elevating the degree of customisation of the work environment.
ActiveCockpit is a good example of this. The interactive communications platform collates, filters and visualises data continuously, enabling operators to react quickly to any changes to the production process.
The software solution provides a digital connection between operator, product, workstation and process, collating data on a touchscreen whiteboard located close to production processes. The whiteboard displays key production data live, seamlessly integrating the virtual world of order planning and production control.
In recent years, Bosch Rexroth has opened an award-winning Industry 4.0 assembly line at its Homburg plant in Germany.
The line incorporates radio-frequency identification (RFID) and Bluetooth technology, enabling machines, products and users to communicate with one another.
Machines can recognise individual engineers and operators, so step-by-step instructions can be customised for each user, which in turn significantly reduces the possibility of human error.
The Homburg facility demonstrates how to efficiently produce a wide range of individual products – in this case, six hydraulic valve types with 200 different variants, in a semi-automatic operation. This allows for flexible and efficient manufacturing, improving productivity across the board.
It has always been the case that companies not prepared to move with the times – or to seek to shape the future themselves – are those that will struggle to remain competitive.
This is equally true when it comes to Industry 4.0. All production facilities can potentially benefit from at least some levels of Industry 4.0 adoption.
Modern-day industry brings changing demands, and with it greater challenges for manufacturers to remain competitive.
Cost-efficiency will continue to be an important factor in business and industry has to keep up. With the help of Bosch Rexroth’s innovative thinking and experience, there is more scope for manufacturers to embrace the potential of Industry 4.0 technologies to improve efficiency and remain competitive.Discover More