4.0 Industry Practices for the Automotive SectorThu, 09/01/2016 - 11:49
As advanced electronics and connectivity become an increasingly essential part of manufacturing, Bosch Rexroth is positioning itself as an industry leader, both in production technologies and as a go-to consultant for improving and modernizing industrial processes for the vital automotive industry in Mexico. Electronics, connection and programing services are part of Bosch Rexroth’s strategy to implement 4.0 industry practices, also known as “cyber-manufacturing,” which are just starting to take hold in Mexico. Salvador Ferrer, FA Division Manager at Bosch Rexroth, says that in four or five years the Mexican industry will be highly competitive as it integrates systems like factory sensors and cloud-based analytics systems for the data gathered.
Around five years ago, the automotive industry began to include more electronic components in their engines, an evolution which Bosch Rexroth has led. “We used to have a variable pump with an alternating power engine but now we are innovating with servomotors, leading to energy savings, emissions reduction and more efficient control of our hydraulic power units,” says Ferrer. “This change allows us to provide better quality service for our clients.” Electronics and sensor technology are at the center of automation systems, resulting in more information to design preventative maintenance tasks. Electronics-based appliances make Bosch Rexroth proactive, rather than reactive, regarding system flaws.
Bosch Rexroth’s experience in the automotive industry puts it ahead of competitors, Ferrer says. The firm offers management systems in the sector ranging from stamping, assemblies, body-in-white, engine and transmission manufacturing operations. Even as the company is taking a leap forward with the design and manufacturing of electronic components, hydraulic and pneumatic systems are still part of its core business with several applications for the automotive industry. Both systems can significantly benefit from electronics, since they help them become better integrated with the manufacturing process. For Ferrer, the future is a stronger combination between electronics and hydraulics or pneumatic systems.
Bosch Rexroth’s services go beyond hydraulics to include software such as affordable plant-licenses that allow every person in a plant to download Bosch Rexroth’s software free of charge. The company has also designed an open platform for drivers and motion controls called Open Core. With four years in the market, this platform allows users to connect and obtain information from their company’s equipment. “It simplifies connection and programing services, permitting operators to move equipment from remote locations, or to control machinery from an iPad or a web browser,” says Ferrer. “This connectivity service gives Bosch Rexroth’s clients the opportunity to design the solutions they need.” Most of Bosch Rexroth’s products are ready to work with Industry 4.0, and it is in the process of creating workshops to inform clients of the benefits of the new technological trends, Ferrer explains. Bosch Rexroth’s solutions offer infinite possibilities but there is still work to be done to convince companies of the benefits of implementing new information structures in line with 4.0 industry practices. Once corporations are convinced of the benefits, the modernization process becomes easier.
The company’s commitment to the environment is set in its goal to reduce emissions at plants. Bosch Rexroth has developed a product called Sytronix, which supports energy and cost reductions by combining hydraulic systems with electric components. “It can help reduce energy consumption by 35-40 percent, lowering pollutants. By manufacturing equipment with less friction on linear bearings, Bosch Rexroth contributes to lowering pollution,” says Ferrer. The control area equipment it manufactures uses regenerative technology allowing it to generate energy when brakes are applied. The energysaving solutions the company offers imply a significant initial investment but the total cost of ownership as well as maintenance costs make its products cost-effective.
Mexican enterprises are chasing international standards but manpower continues to be a significant selling point compared to labor costs in other countries. This particular condition has caused companies to avoid embracing automated processes. Says Ferrer: “for Bosch Rexroth it is important to train workers to use new technology, hence its commitment to training people internationally on the use of new and different technologies.”