Bosch shares Industrial Revolution lessons learned with Manufacturers

We are in the genesis of a fourth industrial revolution. The previous three (mechanization, electrification, and digitization) all had deep and transformational impacts to the world –technologically, socioeconomically, and culturally. The fourth revolution, commonly referred to as Industry 4.0, is about connectivity. It is predicted that this revolution will be dramatically faster than the previous three.

In this webinar with the OpExChange, Bosch Engineering and Production Services shared how their company has taken a holistic approach to Industry 4.0. Bosch is a respected, world-wide leader in manufacturing. There are 243 Bosch manufacturing facilities in 60 countries. Three of these are in the cities of Anderson, Fountain Inn, and Charleston in South Carolina. Chris Mercurio, Key Account Manager for Bosch, gave a two-hour overview of their program In North America. There were 94 people attending the webinar from 47 sites across South Carolina.

Bosch selected five N.A. model plants to incorporate Industry 4.0. Two of these are in Charleston and Anderson, South Carolina. During implementation at their model plants, they learned some valuable lessons. The OpExChange team received their insight today on their “lessons learned” and their implementation recommendations.


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Chris reiterated what this revolution is about – connectivity – connecting people, machines, objects, and systems. It is the fusion of the physical world of production with the virtual world of information technology and the internet.

There are five levels of implementation identified by Bosch. Ease of implementation becomes less arduous as each level is achieved. This is attributed to the holistic approach Bosch takes and establishing a sound framework of the system.

Chris emphasized that this is a cultural journey and takes time. Their model plants are currently at the “knowledge” level with some effective applications (pilots) at the “intelligence level.

In Bosch’s application, there are three strategic areas they include – Concept, People, and Technology. Chris emphasized that the people portion is central to the success of the implementations. Much like the implementation of lean manufacturing, I4.0 is also a cultural transformation that involves everyone in the organization. It is not just a program ran by the IT department. There is an essential paradigm shift needed and effective change management is necessary.

As in any new development, there will be some mistakes made. Chris quoted John Maxwell – “Fail early, fail often …” but learn from your failures! Bosch identified the three key mistakes in each of their strategic areas and codified the lessons learned into their I4.0 standard solution.

There was a deeper dive into each lesson learned for OpExChange members during the session followed by a question and answer session.

Chris summarized the Bosch solutions and recommendations for the OpExChange members. They definitely recommend a holistic view – do not operate in silos and implementations in different departments. The initiative should involve top management and be project managed with key roles and responsibilities identified. Incorporate data mapping in the future value stream map. Structure the data to minimize waste and eliminate redundancy. Incorporate both strategic and tactical views and ensure that there is a business case for implementation.

Chris will be offering plant visits of their model plants to the OpExChange in the near future.

Because of their developed skill and knowledge for implementation of industry 4.0, Bosch Engineering and Production Services now offers their services to other manufacturers. South Carolina manufacturers are encouraged to contact their local South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership representative to discuss possible implementation. https://www.scmep.org/about-us/meet-our-team/

Later this month, the OpExChange will have presentations from three member companies who are at various levels of industry 4.0. More specifically, they will discuss their implementation of the “internet-of-things.” We will also hear from Delta Bravo who assisted one of our companies with the implementation of Artificial Intelligence.

The OpExChange is a peer-to-peer network of companies in South Carolina dedicated to learning and growing together. Member companies host events and share practical examples of industrial automation, lean manufacturing improvements, and leadership development. It is an invaluable resource to member companies that provide access to others who are on similar improvement journeys. If you are interested in joining, contact Mike Demos (mike@opexchange.com) or visit the OpExChange website to see other planned events: www.OpExChange.com.