Bosch Rexroth: Intelligent Factory of the Future

Bosch Rexroth: Intelligent Factory of the Future

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Paul Cooke, President & CEO, Bosch RexrothPaul Cooke, President & CEO The new age of automation is making factories smarter. Since the dawn of the industrial age, factory owners and product designers have looked to increase productivity by automating manufacturing processes. Factories that once had to spend a significant bite of their total expenses on human labor are now reducing labor costs by investing in automation. By automating a given operation and transferring the worker from active participation in the process to a supervisory role, the work is made safer. While the industry continues to move toward a world of smart factories, manufacturers are now expecting higher productivity, greater flexibility, simpler system integration, and open architecture, which facilitates expansion, and also decreases their engineering and production costs. To achieve this feat, organizations seek a reliable partner with a good automation track record and in-depth knowledge of the manufacturing industry to deliver complete, seamless solutions for every CNC, motion and robot control application.

Bosch Rexorth grabs the spotlight by driving the next industrial revolution as a promising automation supplier and manufacturing company. With a vast automation portfolio and production experience from proprietary plants worldwide, Bosch Rexorth offers groundbreaking automation and manufacturing solutions–from a single piece to high volume production. The company’s ultimate aim is to help machine builders and manufacturers make the vision of Smart Factory into reality today. “With our Factory of the Future Experience, Bosch Rexroth is demonstrating how businesses and their machine builders can make the smart factory a reality of the present – where mobile and connected production equipment reconfigure themselves independently and flexibly to fast-changing requirements,” says Heiko Schwindt, Vice President of Automation and Electrification, Bosch Rexroth.

By offering an industry-leading portfolio of automation products and services, the company helps manufacturing companies to shift to Industry 4.0. As a global partner, Bosch Rexroth supports mechanical and plant engineering challenges around the world with its cutting-edge technology and unique industry knowledge. More than 32,300 employees worldwide work on safe, efficient, intelligent, and robust solutions.

Upon realizing Industry 4.0 concepts at their plants, Bosch Rexroth has garnered extensive experience in deploying Industry 4.0 technology in real-time production environments. With connected automation solutions from Bosch Rexroth, manufacturers will be able to quickly implement customized Industry 4.0 concepts economically – whether building new lines or upgrading existing facilities and manufacturing systems.

Openness is key

As Industry 4.0 comes to reality, it’s evident that no single company or organization can manage all the tasks alone. Industry 4.0 solutions are highly dependent on connectivity – technically as well as organizationally within the entire value creation process connecting suppliers and manufacturers. “In the factory of the future, connectivity is key, everything is connected, from field level to cloud-based solutions,” asserts Schwindt. Sophisticated software solutions collect, transfer, and process manufacturing data to provide maximum production transparency.

To achieve this feat, open standard APIs is crucial. Bosch Rexroth has strongly supported international standards. With the help of Bosch Rexroth’s open core engineering, the company can build a bridge between automation and IT while breaking the wall of existing technology boundaries.

With our Factory of the Future Experience, Bosch Rexroth is demonstrating how businesses and their machine builders can make the smart factory a reality of the present – where mobile and connected production equipment reconfigure themselves independently and flexibly to fast-changing requirements

Only with open cooperation and the exchange of ideas and solution approaches will Industry 4.0 concepts find their way to practical solutions. That is why Bosch Rexroth is collaborating with research organizations, OEMs, manufacturers, and others.

At the same time, the company is also working with leading IT partners to develop more cutting-edge solutions like Open Core Engineering. These solutions will, in turn, enable Rexroth’s partners and customers to work with their preferred development environment and programming languages from the IT world to maximize the efficiency and versatility of automation development.

Open Core Engineering: Freedom and efficiency redefined

The increased use of high-level languages and device platforms is opening up new integration opportunities for enhancing production workflow automation and flexibility. Open Core Engineering is a robust solution that offers all the required software tools to increase efficiency in engineering. With open standards, pre-programmed software functions for machine monitoring and Open Core Interface technology it connects PLC automation with the new technologies of the IT world.

Industry 4.0 also needs the right switching centers at the critical points: platform-independent, fast, and easily programmed communication interfaces for perfect dialog between the control system and the HMI application. Bosch Rexroth’s new WebConnector connects the automation environment to static and mobile end devices more directly than ever before: web-based, scalable, modular, and independent thanks to HTML5 and Java technologies.

One of Bosch Rexroth’s partners Glaub Solution, a German-based software company is dedicated to providing even more intuitive and flexible solutions for the visual operation of such installations. In 2012, the company started to develop an app to transfer the machine operation to iOS- and Android-based smartphones and tablet PCs. The company, in their earlier attempts to realize app-based operating concepts did not yield the expected results. With Rexroth’s Open Core Interface, Glaub finally succeeded in developing a genuinely operational user interface for the iPad. They were able to reap several benefits including Open Core Interface that allows organizations to directly access the control core via common high-level languages such as C++, Objective-C, or Java. The operation and control of the system can be transferred entirely from the PLC into the app.

To operate a triple-axis system equipped with a gripper arm, the Glaub engineers utilized an IndraLogic L45 with Open Core Interface. During the subsequent implementation of the operation, diagnosis, and teaching functions, the developers were even able to use some standard function libraries from Rexroth. The access to the PLC variables, the axis functions, and the diagnosis memory was realized with Open Core Engineering function libraries.

A Suite of Solutions

Rexroth’s Automation House offers state-of-the-art building blocks needed for customers in the industrial automation from a single source. The range includes component-level IndraDrive and IndraControl products, motion and logic systems such as IndraMotion and IndraLogic as well as the IndraWorks engineering framework. As automation of today’s production machines continues to become more sophisticated, Rexroth continues to develop systems to meet organizations’ specific needs.

The result is an innovative, modular system, which is designed for flexible, scalable automation solutions – consistent, intelligent, and future proof.

The new IndraLogic XLC (eXtended Logic Control) PLC system implements the latest PLC technology to provide substantial advantages for the smart automation of production tools and systems. IndraWorks software offers full integration of all necessary tools and a noticeable reduction in the engineering process chain. Object-oriented language extensions in programming can enhance the quality of user programs through simplified modularization and accelerate the generation of machine variants.

The compact Rexroth IndraMotion MLC motion logic system gives customers freedom of their wish for their consistent and modern machine automation. Innovative software and firmware functions, easy engineering, and open system interfaces provide maximum flexibility in all motion applications. By combining motion, robot, and logic control with technology functions, organizations can synchronize multi-axis applications very easily – freely scalable for central or decentralized solutions with a flexible control platform.

The IndraControl XM control is another platform offered by Rexroth, which is available for a wide variety of different motion logic applications. Local connection of the modules from the new IndraControl S20, I/O family, expands the control system flexibly to a high-performance process link. As standard, decentralized I/Os, drives, and other system peripherals are connected via Sercos. Optional extension modules open up further integration options. The service-friendly design is an easy way to reduce installation and commissioning costs.

Rexroth’s latest solution based on open architecture is the IndraMotion MTX advanced, which offers a systematic approach to cutting and forming. This new CNC system controls up to 250 electric/hydraulic axes, and the controller can execute tasks in parallel on up to 60 channels. And, even while operating at the maximum number of axes, CNC in IndraMotion MTX guarantees high performance and short cycle times. Furthermore, IndraMotion MTX’s unique high processing power delivers interpolation times as fast as 0.25ms in combination with respective controller hardware.

The company’s recent innovation i4.0 Upgrade Kit connects existing machines, modules, or lines without sufficient connectivity to Industry 4.0 topologies. Their data can be automatically processed in super ordinate systems and can be used for condition monitoring and data mining purposes. The implementation does not require any modifications of the existing automation solution. The web-based configuration of the i4.0 Upgrade Kit can be carried out without any specific programming skills.

Benefits and the Greenfield Approach

Building up new lines is always a challenge – technically and organizationally. But it’s worth it. In the industry 4.0 environment, all useful information is available, at any time, in any location, making it possible to produce individualized products and small batches economically. Technology supports people better than ever before. Companies that implement Industry 4.0 provide faster, with more flexibility, higher efficiency of material, and reduced complexity and downtime.

As an innovator in the manufacturing space, the company is exploring the capabilities of connected production systems in their plants and along with pilot smart manufacturing projects. Bosch Rexroth’s manufacturing engineers are continually testing their products and solutions in a daily environment from a user perspective. They incorporate their insights directly into customers’ development specifications.

In the up-coming enhancements, Bosch Rexroth will integrate their tools with advanced technologies to drive robust capabilities and optimize process performance across every facet of the factory.

- Laura Davis
    August 26, 2019