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Bosch is supplying software solutions for a smart energy grid in northeastern Germany
While wind and the sun are excellent sources of energy, the amount of energy they provide depends to a large extent on weather conditions, and is thus unpredictable. To ensure a successful transition from dependence on fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, consumption and production must be better synchronized. This can be done by setting up a smart grid that links system components. These components can communicate with each other almost in real time via an “energy internet.”
The government-funded WindNODE project, which was launched in northeastern Germany in December 2016, focuses on building such a network. The project is part of the “Smart Energy Showcases – Digital Agenda for the Energy Transition” (SINTEG) program, which is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The region, which comprises six German states, is particularly suitable for this project: 42 percent of its total energy demand is already being met with renewable energy sources. The sparsely settled areas where large quantities of wind energy are produced are connected to urban centers and a range of storage solutions via a smart grid. The findings from WindNODE are expected to provide the knowledge required to implement smart grids on a larger scale.
Providing more intelligent measurements and smart coordination among installations
Bosch Software Innovations (SI) is one of several companies playing an active role in driving the project forward. For instance, Bosch is supplying various software solutions to ensure that the power grid functions efficiently and securely. The goal is to better utilize the capacity of the available infrastructure of intelligent measurement systems (iMsys), and thus increase profitability.
With the “Virtual Power Plant Manager,” the operation of decentralized facilities such as thermal power stations, small solar power installations, and storage systems can be actively managed. If, for example, more electricity is being produced than is needed, production can be curtailed or excess energy temporarily stored by employing a radio ripple control. In this way, the power grid stabilizes itself in a matter of seconds. This is just one way that software can be used to reduce the burden on power grids when energy is fed in from renewable sources – thereby also reducing grid expansion costs.
More information on the WindNODE project can be found here (only in German available).
Bosch study shows what connected mobility will make possible
After a long drive on the highway, the last thing drivers want is a surprise traffic jam around the next bend. And when they finally arrive at their destination, they may have to drive around searching for a parking spot in vain. While this is an all too common situation today, technology may well be a game changer in just a few years time. Highly automated vehicles will warn drivers of oncoming traffic jams and decelerate accordingly, and navigation systems will take over the task of searching for a parking spot at the driver’s destination. Moreover, drivers will no longer need to carry out parking maneuvers themselves – their parking assistance systems will do it for them. While this may still seem like science fiction, connected cars are already equipped with highly sensitive sensors. Via the Internet, they are constantly linked to different clouds.
In cooperation with the Prognos consultancy, Bosch examined the potential impact of automation on road traffic in the Connected Car Effect Study 2025. The two companies analyzed different technologies for personal mobility and their effects by 2025 in Germany, the United States, and China. The model used for the study was based on international vehicle fleet development statistics, accident data, and current research.
Fewer accidents and CO2 savings
Among other things, the study found that driving is becoming safer and more comfortable while vehicles are becoming more efficient. This is the result of technologies that are already well established: “The secret heroes of the connected revolution are the assistance and comfort systems that we are already familiar with,” says Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. With the help of safety systems such as the ESP anti-skidding system and cloud-based functions, in the future about 260,000 accidents could be prevented in the three countries and some 400.000 tons of CO2 could be saved. Moreover, it will one day be possible to integrate smart phones into vehicle infotainment systems and thus offer web-based parking solutions.
For many years, Bosch experts have been developing solutions that not only make road traffic safer, they also increase the efficiency of vehicles. For instance, cloud-based solutions already draw on real-time data to help drivers avoid traffic jams or react to sudden hazards. The most recent example of connected technology is the active gas pedal, which was launched in 2016: with a knocking signal and noticeable vibrations, it not only promotes an energy-efficient driving style, it also warns drivers of dangerous situations.
More information on the Bosch “Connected Car Effect 2025” study can be found here.
Primavera e.V. collected more donations than ever in 2016
More than 25 years ago, 10 Bosch associates founded Primavera e.V. with the aim of giving children from the world’s poorer regions opportunities for a brighter future. Since then, the initiative has grown continuously. Today, more than 1,040 volunteers are active with Primavera, many of them former Bosch associates. Their commitment pays off: in 2016, Primavera collected more donations than ever. At the end of October, the sum already stood at 620,811.65 euros, 22.1 percent above the unusually successful previous year.
The donations support projects around the world that help disadvantaged children and youth. They focus on teaching paths out of poverty and giving young people opportunities for a brighter future. To this end, the organization supports a number of schools or educational activities that provide participants with the tools they need to lead an independent life. The best example is the “Me gusta mi escuela” project in Mexico: executives from Germany and Mexico volunteered with schools in the country’s disadvantaged regions. The schools lacked materials, kitchen equipment, and furniture. Some of the buildings also required renovation. While Mexican associates helped locally, their colleagues in Germany collected the required resources.
In Germany, too, a number of refugee aid projects received support from Primavera this past year. For instance, a bicycle workshop was opened in Weissach with donations. Together with volunteers from a local aid group, refugees repaired bicycles and made them fit for the roads again. Moreover, in Achern and Sassbach, 19 refugee children were given the opportunity to learn to swim. Primavera financed their bathing suits and basic swimming lessons.
The Primavera calendar was one of the initiative’s highlights in 2016: produced for the first time in 2010, it now has a print run of 5,000 and can be seen on Bosch desks around the world. For the last six calendars, a total of 120,500 euros has been collected. Primavera volunteers have used the money to help provide children in need a brighter future.
More information on the work of Primavera e.V. can be found here.
Up and coming Bosch executives volunteer with social projects
“A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.” – John le Carré
What are the characteristics of a good executive? In addition to specialist knowledge and sound judgment, many employers place a great deal of importance on their employees’ social skills and commitment to charitable causes. With its “Talent Pool” program, Bosch also encourages up and coming executives to volunteer. In teams comprising associates from different locations and divisions, young executives have the opportunity to volunteer for social projects.
This year’s Talent Pool participants at an event promoting social commitment at Bosch locations
Participants can decide how much time they spend working on the project and coordinate their work independently within the project team. In most cases, the teams also define targets and distribute roles and responsibilities themselves. “We strongly believe that this type of cooperation is very important,” says Mariana Peters, who works in HR development for Bosch corporate departments. “Often, participants are confronted with tasks that are completely new to them. So they need to be flexible and able to adapt to new situations.”
In 2016, 79 members of the Bosch Talent Pool from corporate departments took part in the program. Divided into eight teams, they supported a selection of charitable projects from the region, among them a local initiative that supports the integration of refugees in the workplace, as well as a project that promotes access for people with disabilities. In recent months, the project team comprising 10 up and coming executives helped create a city map for people with disabilities in Gerlingen, a suburb of Stuttgart. To this end, they scoped the town for barriers to accessibility and spoke with restaurant owners and local clubs about improving offers for people with disabilities.
In October, the participants presented their projects at a local event and talked about their experiences, which were positive across the board. The volunteers stated that the teamwork was decisive to the success of their projects. “For us, volunteering for a social project is an important building block for leadership skills,” says Mariana Peters. “We see how important open communication and responsibility are, and their importance keeps growing every day. With this project, we aim to enable up and coming executives to further sharpen these skills in an unknown environment, reflect on them in a timely manner, and make adjustments wherever necessary.” In the spirit of company founder Robert Bosch, participants make an important contribution to social well-being with their involvement in charitable initiatives. At the same time, they sharpen their leadership skills and set a good example for their future employees.
More information on the Bosch Talent Pool can be found here.
Bosch Rexroth offers internships for young refugees
There are many reasons why people are currently fleeing their home countries, including war, persecution, and poverty. According to Germany’s office for immigration and refugees, more than 690,000 people filed for asylum in the first nine months of last year. Once they arrived in Germany, they faced myriad new challenges: not only did they have to learn a new language, they also had to come to terms with a foreign culture. Both issues have made finding work especially difficult. And yet joining the job market is critical for successful integration.
Young refugees gained an overview of different occupations during their internships at the Bosch Rexroth training workshop
In cooperation with a school for occupational training in Karstadt, Germany, Bosch Rexroth has now launched a project that aims to give young refugees an initiation to work in their new country. With an internship program in Lohr, Bosch Rexroth aims to give refugee youth an overview of different occupations, as well as an opportunity to learn about the processes of a modern industrial enterprise. The offer is open to students in the second year of occupational integration classes in Karstadt. At the end of November, 16 participants were introduced to machining, electronics, mechatronics, foundry technology, and logistics. On a rotating basis, they were able to experience each area equally. The interns received the support of trainers and apprentices in each of the occupational groups.
Egon Birkenmeier, head of industrial and technical apprenticeships at Bosch Rexroth in Rohr, is satisfied with the results of the initiative. “The interns were very motivated, enthusiastic, and grateful learners. They showed a high level of manual skills and mastered the tasks they were given. We were especially surprised about the German skills they had acquired in such a short period of time.”
At locations across Germany, Bosch is committed to helping refugees take their first steps in the local job market. To this end, the company has created 400 internship spots, which range from short practicums that introduce young people to the different occupations to qualification programs that last several months. “We know how important work is in leading an independent life, and we would like to help people who have fled their home countries gain a foothold in the job market,” says Egon Birkenmeier.
More information about Bosch initiatives that aim to support refugees can be found in our Sustainability Report 2015.