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News | Intelligent sensor systems for Industry 4.0

Bosch RoMulus research project will make small and medium-sized companies stronger

Multi-sensor systems are decisive to the success of Industry 4.0 applications. Today, both machines and components are increasingly equipped with intelligent sensor systems, and can thus provide information about their status at all times. On the basis of these data, production can largely organize itself.

 

 

The German sensor technology sector is dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). However, these companies cannot cover all of the elements required for the development and production of multi-sensor systems. For this reason, they depend on cooperation with semi-conductor manufacturers and research and development service providers. To support SMEs and make future cooperation easier, Bosch has entered into a partnership with ten other organizations, including the Fraunhofer Institute and Munich Technical University. Since the fall of 2015, these organizations have pooled their expertise in the “Robust multi-sensor technology for status monitoring in Industry 4.0 applications” (RoMulus) research project. Over the next three years, the project aims to simplify and accelerate the development of intelligent multisensor systems. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is supporting RoMulus with some 4.5 million euros as part of the IKT2020 funding program. This amount represents about 70 percent of the total required investment.

“RoMulus makes it possible to design and produce robust and energy-efficient multi-sensor systems at a low cost, also for small production volumes,” said Dr. Reinhard Neul of Robert Bosch GmbH. “This makes German manufacturers of sensor technologies leaders with regard to establishing an important technical basis for Industry 4.0.” As a driver of innovation, RoMulus is helping ensure that Germany remains competitive. At the same time, the project aims to strengthen the market position of small and medium sized companies in the sensor technology sector. As a result, these companies will in the future be able to offer their industrial customers tailored solutions at a significantly lower price.

With more than 100 Industry 4.0 projects, Bosch is also improving the energy and resource efficiency of its own production at locations around the world. This has had a positive impact on the company’s carbon footprint. Thanks to the real time analysis of production data, sources of error can be detected and eliminated at an early stage. At the same time, precise production ensures that inventory levels remain low. It also reduces the cost of transport, storage, and energy.

More information about RoMulus can be found here.

News | From guideline to standard

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) discusses the future of CSR reporting

For years, the sustainability report was considered the most important element of CSR reporting. But is that changing in the age of big data? And how can the growing amount of sustainability-related data be used in a useful and transparent manner? These and other confquestions were addressed at the 5th Annual Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Conference in Amsterdam. This time around, the theme of the conference was “Empowering Sustainable Decisions”. Some 1,200 CSR executives from more than 70 countries convened to talk about the future of sustainability reporting.

 

Allen White, co-founder of GRI and CEO of the Global Initiative for Sustainable Ratings (GISR), gave a presentation on statistics authorities and the SDGs (Picture by Bernhard Schwager)

 

One of the central topics of discussion was the wealth of information that can be accessed online at all times in the age of digitization. Against this backdrop, digital reporting is gaining significance. In the future, the GRI’s newly established “Digital Reporting Alliance” will focus on this topic. Above all, the initiative will address the question of how large data volumes can be structured and processed for reporting purposes. By the same token, the initiative aims to increase demand for digital reporting, which is still low.

“Sustainability information from business and government represents a vast amount of data that is currently underutilized. For innovation to take place, this information needs to be liberated and provided in a way that can be analyzed and integrated,” said Michael Meehan, GRI’s Chief Executive. “There is overwhelming public and private sector demand for GRI to provide this data so that these organizations can develop innovative solutions. This was the number one recommendation from the GRI Technology Consortium, and the Digital Reporting Alliance will put this recommendation into practice.”

 

Michael Meehan, managing director of GRI, emphasized the importance of systematic data processing in sustainability reporting (Picture by Bernhard Schwager)

 

Another important topic at this year’s conference were the G4 guidelines for the creation of the GRI report, which are being further developed into the GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards. In addition to three universal standards, organizations can now choose which of another 35 are relevant for them. This will encourage a greater number of companies, governments, and NGOs to draft sustainability reports based on GRI standards. The final standards will be published in the fall of 2016.

The Global Reporting Initiative has been continuously developing its guidelines since 1997. The aim is to create global sustainability reporting standards, thus making it possible to objectively assess the economic, ecological, and social performance of the reporting bodies, and to enable comparisons between them. As one of 5,000 companies, Bosch supports the initiative. The company believes that a globally recognized evaluation system is needed to guarantee transparent reporting. This not only applies to sustainability reports, but also to corporate ratings in general. The Global Initiative for Sustainable Ratings (GISR) has set itself the aim of harmonizing these standards. Founded in 2011, the non-profit organization aims to establish a global standard for doing business in an eco-friendly, socially responsible, and ethical manner. At present, there are 135 organzations offering 568 different rating products. Among other things, a common system would help increase the relevance of sustainability ratings. Bosch is also involved in the process of developing such a system. In fact, the company took part in developing the rating principles that were published in 2013. Allen White, the founder of GISR and a member of GRI, moderated a panel discussion at the conference that addressed the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the data of statistics authorities. 

More information on GRI can be found here.

Smart technology for the cars of the future

Bosch takes top ranks in a European innovation ranking for alternative drive systems

According to the Thomson Reuters “2016 State of Innovation” report, when it comes to alternative drive systems, Bosch holds more patents than any other company in Europe. The analysis was based on the number of patents that companies filed between 2011 and 2015. Even in a global comparison, Bosch did very well with 3,057 inventions: only Toyota did better during the same time period. In the general ranking of the most innovative companies in the automotive industry, in 2015 Bosch took third place behind Toyota and Hyundai, with a total of 2,390 patents.
 


 

The high ranking is largely attributable to the company’s activities in the realm of e-mobility, which is considered decisive for reducing the CO2 emissions caused by road traffic and conserving fossil fuels, which are increasingly scarce around the world. Each year, Bosch spends 400 million euros on e-mobility related research and development activities. The aim is to enable the technology to achieve a breakthrough.

Bosch’s development work not only includes continuous innovation in the areas of electric motors, power electronics, and batteries. The company is also working on developing a networked charging infrastructure. Most recently, Bosch Software Innovations cooperated with carmakers to develop charging apps for the owners of electric vehicles. With the help of their smart phones, the electric cars can now be navigated to the next charging station, where drivers can make a cash-free payment using the app. The service, which is already offered by Mercedes-Benz and smart, and will soon also be available for Renault drivers, already includes a network of 3,700 charging stations of different providers across Germany. Some 80 percent of the stations in the network are public charge stations. The network is an important step toward making electric vehicles suitable for everyday use, and thus more attractive to potential buyers.

 

More information on Bosch charging apps can be found here
The complete Thomson Reuters innovation report can be found here.

News | Learning across borders

Bosch continues its training initiative for southern Europe

Some 5.5 million young Europeans are currently looking for work. In Southern Europe, as many as 50 percent of young people are unemployed. In a bid to help reduce youth unemployment, Bosch’s training initiative for southern Europe is once again offering additional apprenticeship spots for young people from the affected countries. In 2016, 75 young people from Italy and Spain are set to begin an apprenticeship at the global supplier of technology and services. While 25 spots are being created in the home countries, Bosch is making 50 spots available in Germany.

 

 Christoph Kübel with the Spanish apprentices Ana Maria San Andres Gonzalez and Juan Manuel Cañadas Torres. 

 

In 2014, Bosch had already created 100 apprenticeship spots for young men and women from Portugal, Spain, and Italy. Those that are completing the program in Germany recently completed a portion of their examinations at the 20-month mark. “Doing an apprenticeship in a foreign country in another language and culture is a big step,” says Ana Maria San Andres Gonzalez, who is from a community close to Madrid. For this reason, Bosch assists the apprentices with language lessons, mentors, and social support.  “With a strong intercultural support component, our apprenticeship concept has proven successful. We have kept up our commitment because youth unemployment is still high, especially in Italy and Spain,” says Christoph Kübel, member of the board of management and director of industrial relations at Robert Bosch GmbH. A qualified apprenticeship significantly improves young people’s employment opportunities.

In addition to its training initiative for southern Europe, Bosch also contributes to the fight against youth unemployment by supporting a number of different projects. In Italy, the company has cooperated with prominent athletes and the Ranstad temp agency to offer workshops and training sessions that aim to prepare young people for working life. In 2016, the “Prepare for the future” project will also be launched in Spain.

More information on Bosch’s training initiatives for southern Europe can be found in our current Sustainability Report.

News | Buyer’s premium of 4,000 euros for electric cars

German federal government and automotive industry create new purchasing incentives

Since May 1, 2016, consumers who opt for a low-emission electric car have been eligible to receive an environmental bonus of 4,000 euros. Buyers of  plug-in hybrid vehicles can receive a premium of 3,000 euros. The decision was made by the German federal government in cooperation with German carmakers at the automotive summit that took place in Berlin in the middle of April. The cost of some 1.2 billion euros is being split by the government and carmakers. The purchase of new cars will be supported up to a net list price of 60,000 euros. Until now, BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen vehicles are eligible for the premium.

 

 

The bonus is meant to serve as initial incentive to buy. In 2009, the German federal government  launched a plan to get one million electric vehicles onto Germany’s streets by 2020. At present, however, there are only 55,000 cars with electric or hybrid drives on the country’s roads. “The measures introduced today are an important and necessary step toward achieving this ambitious goal,” said Dr. Volkmar Denner, chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. In addition to the buyer’s premium, the German government is making funds available to expand charging infrastructure. Some 15,000 additional charge stations are expected to be installed across Germany in the coming years.

The cost of vehicles will play a decisive role in the breakthrough of electric drive technologies. To reduce this cost, batteries must become more affordable. For this reason, Bosch is investing both its expertise and money: together with its Japanese partners Mitsubishi and GS Yuasa, the company is researching lithium-ion technology. In addition to this, Bosch acquired Seeo, an American company, in the fall of 2015. The start-up has the expertise required to significantly increase the energy density of lithium-ion batteries and the range of electric vehicles. Not only has Bosch set itself the goal of doubling the distance electric vehicles can travel on a single charge by 2020, it also aims to halve the cost of batteries.

More information about Bosch’s e-mobility activities can be found here.