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RFID im Blick

Industrial Manufacturing: Industry 4.0 at Bosch

Use Cases | By PR RFID im Blick | 04 December 2014
Proven benefits of RFID-based booking processes push the world-wide rollout at Bosch forward: Milk run trips were reduced by ten percent, the efficiency in the process was increased by ten percent and the stock was reduced by up to 30 percent. Proven benefits of RFID-based booking processes push the world-wide rollout at Bosch forward: Milk run trips were reduced by ten percent, the efficiency in the process was increased by ten percent and the stock was reduced by up to 30 percent. Photo: Bosch

Virtual processes equal physical processes

Since the RAN-project, Bosch is driving a circle of innovation consisting of data collection, data evaluation and retroactive optimization of logistic processes

Between 2008 and 2013, the number of RFID-based bookings rose from almost zero to circa 20 million bookings in productive systems of the 16 factories in four business segments and different fields of activity. Manual processes are further and further digitalized and visualized virtually. „Where an employee used to fill out a paper, RFID-based scan processes exist now. From the logistics center to the assembly is transparent and visible at any time“, tells Dr. Daniel Neuhäuser, Bosch Corporate Sector Information Systems & Services. What optimized processes will be made possible in future by data collection and -processing on a centralized platform, explains he in the interview with „RFID im Blick“.

Dr. Daniel Neuhäuser, Bosch Corporate Sector Information Systems & Services, in an interview with „RFID im Blick“

Business model process optimization

Dr. Daniel NeuhäuserDr. Daniel NeuhäuserTo increase the number of product captures along the supply chain, and thereby increasing their transparency, Bosch started in their use of RFID-technology in 2008 to diminish the effort of these bookings at the same time, while being a part of the RAN-project. „Using one central company-wide interface, seamless booking can be made possible. The resulting exact knowledge of the process parameters allows a consistent improvement process along the supply chain. That process is measurable and comparable with the initial state due to an analysis of the bookings“, tells Dr. Daniel Neuhäuser. „From a generic point of view: We analyze, digitalize and virtualize the value stream of a manual process. This digitalization is the data resource for process optimization. Following this, with the means of the data, process errors may be pointed out in a way that brings additional value and the respective process can be improved and money is saved.“

„Digitalization is the data resource for process optimization. Following this, with the means of the data, process errors may be pointed out in a way that brings additional value and the respective process can be improved and money is saved.“

RFID-bookings in the value chain

How relevant is the theoretical description for the implementation in the Bosch factories? „We have not only developed a theory but also directly realized this theory in a pilot project“, says Dr. Daniel Neuhäuser. „This can be demonstrated clearly at the factory in Homburg, where we digitalized the entire process between logistics center and production using RFID-Kanban. That means: Employees are now scanning the Kanban-card and the follow-up processes are initiated automatically where they used to fill out papers before. The physical way from the logistics center to the assembly is transparent and visible at any time: Where is the material?“ From the delivery of raw materials, the point where goods are incoming, prefabrication, assembly, finishing, put away, picking, commissioning, to the shipping; automated gate bookings and manual bookings are done. The results of RFID-based process restructuring can be summarized in three substantial points: „Physical objects are unambiguously identified within the circle. The capture in the material flow is automated. Through the automated booking steps, the physical process is depicted in the system at the same time as making the process transparent, measurable and traceable.“

Pull process for replenishment management

Based on RFID-Kanban, Bosch has consistently implemented a pull system. The consumption in the production is initiating all subsequent processes. „This is possible since the physical process is equal to the virtual process“, explains Dr. Daniel Neuhäuser. „The optimized information flow enables the exploitation of other potentials: Waste can be avoided because the handling of paper and manual bookings to the system took time that is no longer needed. Furthermore, manual handling holds the risk of transmission errors.“ On top of that, it is made easier for the user to operate the system: „Instead of having to deal with an SAP-mask, he can simply hold the card close to the reader. A traffic light function directly signals if the action was successful. As the process can be monitored with real-time data, it makes checking of the process status possible at any time.“

Apart from AutoID-technologies RFID and barcode, Bosch also focusses inter alia on the usage of sensor technology, telecommunication, and Augmented Reality.Apart from AutoID-technologies RFID and barcode, Bosch also focusses inter alia on the usage of sensor technology, telecommunication, and Augmented Reality.

Stock reduced by up to 30 percent

„The system is running productive, the process can be rolled out in the factories“, says Dr. Daniel Neuhäuser. „The rollout was pushed forward by the demonstrable benefits: We could reduce Milk run trips by ten percent, the efficiency in the processes was increased by ten percent at the same time, reducing the stock by up to 30 percent, especially by making the process clearly traceable. In particular, the reduction of inventory is of course a key indicator directly affecting the cash flow and bringing the factories demonstrable benefits. If, on top of that, space in the allocation zone can be saved, there will be a positive effect not only on the inventory but also on the assembly area. The space saved can be used for value-adding tasks. Those effects play a big role.“

Bosch Business Event Platform

RFID-activity at Bosch can be concretely seen at the increase of RFID-based bookings: From almost zero bookings in the year 2008 to about 20 million in 2013 – in productive systems of 16 factories in four business segments and also in different fields of activity. „The process component RFID underlies a Bosch-internal standard. We offer this solution to the factories as a standard component in the logistics process.“ In the future, data collection and aggregation is to be forced further. „In the long run, the process of data should be collected in a Bosch Business Event Platform. Based on the results of this object event monitoring, real-time analysis and lean process shall be enabled ultimately. Question such as “How is my key figure progressing?” can be answered with more detail and accuracy.“

Interfaces to traffic and building technology

The improving high-resolution digital depiction of physical processes is the basis for the analysis of data flows. These flows, which are concentrated in a central platform, lead directly to the redesign of logistic processes. „Transports can have more detailed planning, deviations compensated, and in a final step, predictions can be done in the short- as well as the long-term. The whole data collection can be simplified using a platform since the data is centrally available. This leads, of course, to optimizations in neighboring fields since logistics is never isolated. The link to building technology must be designed efficiently. On top of that, there are interfaces to traffic and traffic infrastructure, such as via solution providers that offer congestion forecasts. “Ship to Line” concepts require a very precise planning of the delivery.“

Developing the man-machine interface further

Many of the processes linked to the term „Industry 4.0” are already in the practical work use at the 16 factories relying on RFID-backed bookings in the supply- and production chain. Apart from barcode and RFID, sensor technology and other autonomous technologies, M2M communication, robotics, the integration of mobile telecommunication or Augmented Reality are part of Bosch Business Event Platform’s enabling technologies. „Also these technologies become more and more important in the industrial environment for the realization of a men-to-machine interface. Not only regarding monotonous skills, human and robots can complement. Employees can be protected in production environments by an automated transport of goods. To optimize the communication with the user, we are working on further possibilities for connection and technical support of working process, in the private- as well as in the industrial field“, closes Dr. Daniel Neuhäuser.

Last modified on Wednesday, 21 October 2015 17:15