Designing the factory of the future at ARENA2036
Bosch has developed a vision for the Factory of the Future in a world going through a digital transformation. At a collaborative research environment at University of Stuttgart (ARENA2036), we make that vision tangible and accessible with our research activities. Partner collaboration and a strong vision will drive the changes ahead.
Challenges of the future
The contemporary business climate has a nickname – the VUCA world. VUCA describes four challenges in business: Volatile markets, Uncertain requirements, Complex processes and Ambiguous solutions. While these challenges are familiar to factory operators, current trends towards sales fluctuation, product individualization and a diversity of technological solutions underscore their importance. Meeting business requirements has never been more critical for factories’ economic success.
Approaching smart manufacturing
Bosch creates a vision for future manufacturing by exploring scenarios and hypotheses. We design solutions and develop both virtual and real prototypes. We build off existing Bosch and Rexroth products whenever possible and share lessons learned with our product and application development teams, who make the future a reality in products today.
Making the factory of the future a reality
At first glance, our scenarios might appear far removed from the reality in factories today. However, factory operators strongly confirm the basic tenants of our vision. Collaborating with industry practitioners informs the direction we take and is important for our efforts. It also makes us faster because we don’t need to build up all the required knowledge alone, and we are able to learn from the feedback of customers and partners early on.
Everyone agrees – a defining trait of future production will be its software, which will dynamically adjust information technology (IT) resources, organizational flows and process capabilities in real-time. This is why we consider the Factory of the Future to be software-defined.
The Factory of the Future will provide an unprecedented level of flexibility: It will help to mitigate the effects of the VUCA world thanks to its scalability and its ability to deal with new products and technology. Furthermore, it addresses important business requirements, it will reduce time-to-market, capital commitment and increase sustainability.
What is Industry 4.0?
Industry 4.0 not only means bringing the Internet of Things (IoT) into production planning processes, its purpose is to increase efficiency through process optimization. The most central infrastructure element of factories is of course the factory floor. Therefore it constitutes a central role within our Factory of the Future vision. The ARENA environment has been valuable for transforming ideas for an intelligent floor with automation technology into working prototypes.
We invited internal and external stakeholders to discuss our first prototype with us. Those conversations highlighted certain features of the floor, which we could prioritize for development.
Debut at the Hannover Fair
To scale-up the area of the intelligent floor for the Hannover Fair, we needed a distributed control system that wouldn’t break the floor’s high degree of modularity. A start-up partner at ARENA2036 was quickly able to implement our requirements based on their platform. The collaboration made the scale-up a success in only 10 weeks.
Another important element of the intelligent floor is wireless power transmission. Together with distinguished experts at the Institute of Electrical Energy Conversion, we intend to bring energy transmission to the next level.
ARENA2036 supports the design of the Factory of the Future at Bosch. Software and the Internet of Things (IoT) will be featured on factory floors that adapt to dynamic requirements and optimize processes in real-time.