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The future is happening

May 22, 2019
Key takeaways from a tour of Bosch Rexroth's Factory of the Future

“What’s happening in our private lives will happen in 5-10 years in industry,” explained Heiko Schwindt, VP automation & electrification solutions, Bosch Rexroth. “Something is coming. Artificial intelligence will play a big role. I don’t have a crystal ball. I don’t see the future in 10-15 years, but we have a vision of the Factory of the Future (FotF). It’s a framework of what we want to achieve at Bosch Rexroth.”

From its U.S. headquarters in Hoffman Estates. Illinois, Bosch Rexroth hosted a tour of its FotF, which is open to customers, as well, by appointment.

“Our customers, machine builders, want more customization,” said Schwindt. “They want to increase productivity; the want smaller batch sizes and massive technology change. We are investing in higher connectivity, modernizing the factory for flexibility, intelligent systems, integrated safety and transparency. Most machines already have the data inside, but they’re not connected. It really depends on the value to the customer. Connecting is not free.”

The Factory of the Future includes three primary areas, explained Rodney Rusk, Industry 4.0 leader at Bosch Rexroth. “It will have distributed intelligence down to the device level,” he said. “Intelligent space will allow us the ability to move the factory floor to accommodate what we need to build. Today, we have set assembly lines with a set product. Mobile devices are important. And virtual products are the digital-twin tools that will allow you to design your system or the ability to reevaluate how you want to do your line. We’ll see more and more of the merger between the physical and virtual.”

Intelligence can be distributed via embedded, edge and cloud computing. “It’s total connectivity enabling fast plug-and-work functionality and a self-optimizing environment,” said Rusk. “Connectivity is the digital exchange of information—an AI exchange or distributed learning exchange.”

A few other takeaways from the Factory of the Future:

  • Ball screws and roller rails and mechanical products will soon have sensors embedded, predicted Bipin Sen, regional sales manager.
  • Out-of-the-cabinet devices will make it easier for modular machine flexibility, explained Dave Cameron, director of sales, electric drives and controls.
  • Safety is monitoring. Having all communications on one cable means all systems know what each other is doing. The advantage of safety is increased production, said Joaquin Ocampo, product manager.
About the author: Mike Bacidore
About the Author

Mike Bacidore | Editor in Chief

Mike Bacidore is chief editor of Control Design and has been an integral part of the Endeavor Business Media editorial team since 2007. Previously, he was editorial director at Hughes Communications and a portfolio manager of the human resources and labor law areas at Wolters Kluwer. Bacidore holds a BA from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He is an award-winning columnist, earning multiple regional and national awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He may be reached at [email protected] 

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