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Industry 4.0: Bosch and SAP combine expertise

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Robert Bosch GmbH and SAP have formed a strategic partnership for the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0.
Both companies want to expand their collaboration on cloud technologies and software solutions. Their joint approach promises to speed up manufacturing and logistics processes and to increase the safety and quality of products and services for customers.
“In order to make even better use of the major potential that connected industry holds, international companies must cooperate more closely than before, and they must base that cooperation on open standards,” says Bosch CEO Dr Volkmar Denner.
Bernd Leukert, member of the SAP Executive Board responsible for products and innovation, adds: “New solutions that offer a high degree of customer benefit will appear only when companies concentrate on their strengths and their core competencies while also pooling their respective strengths.”
To this end, there are plans to enable customers to use the SAP Hana database in the Bosch IoT Cloud. The aim is to process large quantities of data for IoT applications in real time.
In addition, Bosch and SAP will work to combine their software and cloud expertise in the future. Bosch IoT microservices will be available on SAP Hana Cloud Platform as a way to connect different devices and components. This includes enabling secure and more efficient connectivity for vehicles, manufacturing machinery, or tools with various, and preferably, open platforms.
The aim is always to offer customers new, smart services.
For instance, connected cordless screwdrivers can report their location down to the nearest centimeter to the production system, which can then select the torque appropriate to each screwdriver’s task. The result is increased efficiency in production. Databases such as SAP Hana are a prerequisite for saving, processing, analyzing, and presenting large quantities of data from connected industry.
All the systems both Bosch and SAP develop are focused above all on data security and privacy. Both companies protect customer data with state-of-the-art technology. Customers can decide themselves whether to make personal data available and when it should be deleted.
“To get IoT and Industry 4.0 solutions implemented universally, we need standards and reference architectures,” Denner says.
On the topic of standardisation, Denner and Leukert support close coordination with the internationally oriented Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) and with the Germany-based Platform Industry 4.0. The aim is to institute a set of standardised conditions that will support the interoperability of machinery in the world of industry.
“Joint testbeds are a tried and trusted approach toward that aim, with partners working together to test the interplay of sensors, machinery, software, and cloud technology, and to derive standards from that,” Leukert says.
One specific example of co-operation between the two international companies is positional data for forklifts, increasing the transparency and efficiency in logistics. In an existing IIC-coordinated testbed known as Track and Trace, it is now possible to determine the location of forklifts in large warehouses, aircraft hangars, or industrial sites in real time and to the nearest centimetre.
Zeno Track, a start-up founded by Bosch, pinpoints the forklifts using cameras, GPS, laser scanners, radio, and connected motion sensors. The location data is transferred via the Bosch IoT Cloud to the SAP Vehicle Insights application, a fleet management system. As a result, vehicle fleets can be managed intelligently and in a way that best supports the planning and fulfilment of transport orders or maintenance schedules. This reduces outlay and increases efficiency.
The co-operation between Bosch and SAP shows how the interplay of sensors and software enables the creation of new services that go beyond individual companies.
Moreover, the two companies aim to develop further solutions in areas such as automated and connected driving. These always produce great quantities of data that must be evaluated quickly and reliably. “Databases and platform technologies are fundamental building blocks for new solutions in the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0. We would like to put these at the disposal of customers, partners, and users worldwide,” Leukert says.
Denner adds: “Bosch can draw on extensive sensor systems experience in the areas of mobility, manufacturing, consumer goods, and connectivity. By combining all this, we aim to help our customers generate new sales.”