After a decade, Industry 4.0 is coming of age, says Bosch. What began at the Hannover Messe trade show in 2011 as a “pioneering German project” has now gained global traction, adding AI capabilities at the end of this year.
The aim is for connected manufacturing to optimize itself automatically, making it economical to produce customized products in batch sizes even as small as one. Bosch has been using the underlying technologies in its own factories as well as selling systems to industrial customers. In 2020, the company generated sales of more than 700 million euros with connected manufacturing solutions.
“We recognized the potential of Industry 4.0 early on and are pioneers in this field. Now we’re reaping the rewards,” says Rolf Najork, the member of the Bosch board of management responsible for industrial technology.
Bosch is combining intelligent software for production control, monitoring, and logistics planning into a manufacturing platform of its own. This connects to a larger database that simplifies and improves tasks such as AI analyses for fault detection. The roll-out of the new Bosch manufacturing and logistics platform will start at the end of 2021.
“We offer our roughly 240 plants a standardized ‘Industry 4.0 toolbox,’ which can be expanded and deployed as needed,” said Najork. The company believes this will save it almost one billion euros over the next five years, following an investment of around 400 million euros.
“The only way to tap the full potential of Industry 4.0 is collectively and globally. Humans and machines need to ‘speak the same language.’ This requires international, cross-company standards,“ he said.
Back in 2011 at Hannover Messe, Bosch researchers presented an idea that broke with convention. Rather than have people adapt to machines, they turned things around. The vision here was of products that actively involve themselves in their manufacturing, navigate themselves through the production process, and communicate with humans and machines.
The following year,