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News | How Bosch is making its associates fit for the digital transformation

Bosch relies on virtual networks of experts

In the connected world, an agile organization with active networks of experts is decisive for success. This is why Bosch is one of the first large companies in the world to use the “Working out Loud (WOL) program, which aims to connect associates with one another and further develop their skills. “The digital transformation is also a cultural transformation,“ says Christoph Kübel, member of the board of management and director of industrial relations at Robert Bosch GmbH. “With Working Out Loud, we are promoting digital cooperation, enhancing our learning and working culture, and thus also increasing our innovative strength.”

Working Out Loud aims to make work visible and promote knowledge sharing. It comprises a peer coaching program, within which “Circles” of four to five associates cooperate for twelve weeks on a task they have selected themselves. Over the course of the program, participants build their own personal networks of experts and use external social media channels as well as the internal Bosch Connect social business platform. “Building a network with Working Out Loud does not mean collecting random contacts,” says Katharina Krentz, an expert for digital cooperation at Bosch. “It means learning how to connect with experts in a targeted manner and building stable relationships that can help find answers to specific questions and drive things forward.”

From a network to a start-up incubator

Dennis Böcker, who oversees IT innovation at Bosch, is among the associates who have benefited from WOL. His task was to establish a co-creation space in the United States to seize the opportunities of the Internet of Things (IoT). “The challenge was huge. I didn’t have access to the authorities or to start-ups,” he says. To reach his goals, he thus cooperated with a group. “My Circle partners not only shared their knowledge with me. Thanks to them, I also gained access to the mayor of Chicago and the start-up scene.“ As a result of cooperation in the network, the initial idea of a co-creation space developed into the Chicago Connectory start-up incubator.

A prize-winning concept

Bosch contributed to WOL’s further development in cooperation with John Stepper, who invented the concept. In 2015, the company established its first Circle. Since then, more than 1,000 Bosch associates from over 40 countries have taken part in the program. In cooperation with other companies, Bosch also initiated the WOL Community of Practice. The aim was to develop the method further and make it accessible to as many companies as possible. In 2017, the work of Bosch and other members of WOL was honored with Germany’s HR Excellence Award in the “Employee Management and Collaboration” category.

An interview about WOL with Christoph Kübel, member of the board of management and director of industrial relations at Robert Bosch GmbH, can be found here.

News | Gender equality takes center stage

Bosch talks about gender equality at a UN conference

Although women make up half of the world’s population, in many countries they are still denied equal access to education and qualified jobs. According to a United Nations study, women in most of the 67 countries examined occupy less than a third of management positions. What is more, they spend about three times more time on unpaid household labor than men. On the basis of Sustainable Development Goal number 5, the UN has shown that it is committed to gender equality and strengthening women’s rights. 

From January 10 to 12, representatives from politics, business, and civil society discussed the issue of gender equality at the annual conference of the United Nations Academic Council in Vienna. Bosch was among the private sector participants.

Successful women are making progress

In her keynote speech, Amina J. Mohammed, the deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, spoke of the importance of equal opportunity: “A lack of opportunity affects us all – both men and women. We must thus work together to eliminate inequality and achieve a fairer, more peaceful, and more sustainable world for everyone”. Christine Muttonen, the former president of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly, encouraged women to fight for their rights on the political stage. Women are in the best position to say what they need and make sure that these needs are met.

Angelika Kiessling, Head of corporate communications at Bosch Austria

Angelika Kiessling, the head of corporate communications at Bosch Austria, took part in a panel discussion, where she talked about her own career path: “To have a successful career, women must seize opportunities and clearly say what they want. Excellent performance is also decisive.” Kiessling also emphasized the importance of respect and empathy in communication – especially in times like these where companies like Bosch are undergoing major change. The focus needs to be on collaboration across disciplines and hierarchies. “An open and continuous communication across all levels is one of the major success factors for companies - especially in times of digitalization and Social Media”, Kiessling says.

Diversity is an asset

Bosch promotes a culture of diversity and appreciation, regardless of a person’s sex. Among other things, the company aims to increase its share of women in management positions to 20 percent by 2020, up from the current figure of 15.4 percent. Bosch is committed to equal pay and offers special mentoring programs for women. Moreover, the company promotes a flexible and family-friendly working culture that emphasizes results rather than workplace presence.

More information on this year’s conference of the United Nations Academic Council can be found here.

News | Two clever solutions that counter water scarcity

Bosch India is raising awareness and actively addressing the issue

India’s population of 1.3 billion continues to grow. According to UN forecasts, the emerging country will be home to more than 1.7 billion people by 2060. Sustained population growth means that India will be facing several infrastructural challenges, for instance in the realm of water supply. Most of India’s groundwater is used for agriculture, according to United Nations estimates. As a result, many wells and reservoirs run dry during the dry season.

The dam "Lakshmanpada"

To provide more people with clean drinking water and strengthen agricultural activity, the Bosch Nashik location has built a dam for land cultivation in the plant’s surrounding region. Despite difficult weather conditions and the absence of an access road, the team successfully completed the “Lakshmanpada” project within twelve weeks. The dam can store some 400 million liters of water and thus provide 198 households from five villages with access to clean drinking water. It also enables about 60 percent of farmers to cultivate a second crop, such as wheat. Moreover, the rise in groundwater levels could be of benefit for eight natural springs and four hand pumps.

Raising public awareness

The village of Ramanagara in the southern Indian state of Karnataka has been facing severe water scarcity for many years. For this reason, in 2017 the district authorities and the Bosch India Foundation initiated several measures to improve access to clean drinking water. So far, the team has managed to de-silt three lakes, install eight water purification plants, and plant 20,000 seedlings to limit further erosion and conserve water more efficiently. Not only did local farmers and citizens take part in the initiative, they also learned about water resource management thanks to the supporting awareness-raising campaign. The foundation also taught the community how to monitor the measures themselves to maintain the water supply in the future.

The successful water resource management of Ramanagara

More information on the activities of regional Bosch foundations can be found here.

News | The first Bosch EHS Award

Bosch honors projects that increase energy efficiency and occupational safety.

Held on January 23, 2018, the first Bosch EHS Awards ceremony celebrated the accomplishments of 51 submissions in two categories and honored six winners. Established in 2017, the prize aims to draw attention to energy efficiency and occupational safety initiatives at Bosch locations around the world. Christoph Kübel, Member of the Board of Management and Director of Industrial Relations, presented the six winning projects with an award at the corporate headquarter in Gerlingen. This year, projects in Germany, China, and Brazil were honored.

Christoph Kübel, Member of the Board of Management and Director of Industrial Relations of Robert Bosch GmbH

Energy management 4.0

First prize in the environmental protection category went to the Bosch Homburg location, where manufacturing activities are especially energy efficient thanks to some 10,000 data points that measure values, which are then pooled in an online platform. This makes it possible to manage the energy consumption of each piece of equipment in a targeted manner. Moreover, the local team also makes use of technical innovations such as needs-based regulation of ventilation and smart switch-off management. As a result of these and other measures, the location has saved some 23,400 tons of CO2 since 2007, 4,600 thereof in 2017 alone.

Cooperating for a safe plant

With a project that aimed to raise awareness on occupational safety for every associate and in every process, the Bosch Changsha location took first place in the occupational safety category. The “Building a safe plant” project was completed in 2017. Its primary aim was to establish a continuous improvement process and actively involve associates. The comprehensive measures included targeted training sessions and internal audits at regular intervals. The site could reach its zero accident target in 2017. 

The winners of the first Bosch EHS Award

On the podium

The second and third place projects at this year’s awards were also worthy of praise. With its “Cold degreasing” project, the Bosch Traunreut location reduced its energy consumption with an innovative cleaning product that is effective at low temperatures. In turn, the “GoGreen” initiative has taken a comprehensive approach to saving energy. At the Campinas location in Brazil, the “System for CIP Safety” project has ensured occupational safety with a continuous improvement process. And the “Virtual Reality Safety Training @ CC” for Abstatt associates working in a digitized world serves the same purpose.

News | Monitoring rivers digitally

Bosch System issues flood warnings

In many regions around the world, climate change is also changing the weather: researchers expect more frequent floods due to heavy rainfall. Until now, water levels in rivers have been measured with mechanical tools, which means that it can take several hours for data to be passed on to third parties. The new flood monitoring system that Bosch recently presented at the CES could be a game changer. The innovation can digitally monitor the water levels of rivers close to cities in real time, and thus provide timely warnings of oncoming floods. In a pilot project along the Neckar close to Ludwigsburg, Germany, Bosch is currently carrying out a pilot project to test the new system, which is based on two approaches. Both monitor changes in water levels, water velocity, and flow capacity.

Measurements with a camera or soundwave

The first solution operates with a Bosch Security Systems camera that is installed on the river bank. It takes pictures of the body of water every few seconds and transmits them to a mini-computer, which then sends them to the cloud via a mobile phone network. The second solution hangs upside down under a bridge and uses ultrasonic waves. A sensor by Clever Sensor Integration, a start-up company, transmits ultrasonic waves three times per minute. The sensor uses the signal’s duration to assess the distance to the water surface, and can thus measure the water level. Via the long-range network, an integrated mini-computer transmits data to the cloud. The right approach – whether with cameras or ultrasound sensors – depends on the application.

Analysis in the cloud

With an image recognition algorithm, the Bosch IoT Cloud analyzes data within seconds. “Based on the image, the algorithm can tell how much water levels have increased or decreased. Once the analysis has been completed, the data is stored in a database,” says Danny Heber, Senior Solution Architect at Bosch Software Innovations. If a critical level is reached, the municipal authorities or the residents concerned receive a signal via SMS. As a result, they can initiate measures in time to protect themselves from flooding or flood damages. Communities that often face flooding, for instance in India and South America, have already expressed interest in the solution.

Information other innovations presented at the CES can be found here.