Bosch is driving the development of Industry 4.0 forward
- Bosch already connects vehicles, freight trains, and machinery
- Asenkerschbaumer: “We are deriving new service-oriented business models from connectivity.”
- Success factors: key competencies, uniform standards, open platforms, collaboration, fast internet, data protection
Bosch believes connectivity offers great potential. Speaking at the 32nd German Logistics Congress in Berlin, Dr. Stefan Asenkerschbaumer, deputy chairman of the Bosch board of management, said: “Within logistics and also companies, there is still a lot of inefficiency. The internet of things offers tremendous opportunities where this is concerned. Manufacturing and logistics, as well as the movement of goods and freight transport, are becoming more effective, safer, and more flexible through connectivity.” In the future, the flows of goods at companies, as well as between customers and suppliers, will manage themselves. The necessary foundation for this is provided by real-time information recorded by sensors and intelligent software. This will create additional business potential for Bosch.
Connectivity is the key driver in the value-added chain
“Connectivity offers the opportunity to transform largely rigid value-added chains into dynamic value-added networks,” Asenkerschbaumer says. New technological solutions make it possible to correct deficits in transport logistics, for example, such as delayed information and a lack of transparency. In addition to common GPS technology, it is now possible to use web-enabled sensors to precisely localize logistics items in real time, in transit between the supply-chain partners. As a result, quality issues can be identified early on during the transport. Incoming goods inspections can be performed more effectively, and reorders can be placed while the goods are in transit. And road transport logistics is not the only area to which connectivity can be applied. Together with the Swiss rail freight company SBB Cargo, Bosch aims to develop rail logistics into a connected transport system.
Manufacturing inventories reduced by nearly one-third
Efficient, connected production is a part of every dynamic value-added network. At Bosch, there are already around 100 such projects. On a multi-product line at its Homburg location, for example, Bosch uses more than 2,000 different components to manufacture some 200 variants of mobile hydraulic control modules. The result is economical production of batch sizes all the way down to one, nearly 30 percent less inventory, and as much as ten percent more productivity. In this regard, Asenkerschbaumer emphasizes: “Connected logistics and manufacturing systems can respond with considerably more flexibility to sudden shifts in demand and breakdowns within the value-added chain.” In the future, Bosch wants to integrate all manufacturing sites into a global production network.
New business models for the connected world
“Connectivity amounts to more than the interplay of different objects and systems. We are also deriving new service-oriented business models from it,” Asenkerschbaumer says. For example, Bosch offers a system that enables freight forwarding companies to use data from the vehicles’ control units to monitor the wear and tear of their fleets online. As a result, maintenance and repairs can be planned at an early stage. Moreover, thanks to “Eco.Logic Motion,” the company is helping to improve driving strategy. At the heart of it is an electronic horizon, which uses existing navigation data in the vehicle to adjust driving strategy to the topology of the terrain. This function makes it possible to reduce fuel consumption by up to five percent. Bosch is currently developing “Eco.Logic Motion” into a dynamic connected horizon. Danger spots behind the summit of a hill or after a bend can then be detected by the vehicle in good time, and it can ease off the accelerator in preparation. “That is another step towards ensuring the economic efficiency and safety of connected transport solutions,” Asenkerschbaumer says.
Growing importance of cross-company collaboration
“An essential factor for achieving future success in the connected world is the development of key competencies,” Asenkerschbaumer says. It is also increasingly essential to be able to develop and implement new business ideas and models quickly, which is why greater overall collaboration is important, he adds. Broad clusters have to be formed in order to pool knowledge and resources. “A cross-company, logistical value-added network will only be efficient if all partners create the necessary conditions for this purpose,” Asenkerschbaumer says. Joint projects and so-called ecosystems must therefore be based on uniform standards and open platforms.
Quick implementation of a common digital market in Europe
Asenkerschbaumer believes there is considerable ground to make up when it comes to the extensive expansion of fast broadband networks. Yet in his view, this is the only way that continuous transport monitoring of cargo will work. Asenkerschbaumer also identifies data protection and the creation of a common digital market as a further key requirement for the acceptance and success of connected solutions. “Connectivity can only succeed if our customers can be sure that their data is being properly handled.” Bosch explicitly asks its customers for their consent to use their data.