Enabling technologies for the digital factory

The factory of the future is drawing increasingly close, and Bosch Rexroth is well aware of this: for this reason, it has developed tailor-made solutions for the digitisation of factories. These include the AGV Active Shuttle, which thanks to its Plug & Go technology can be integrated without the need to adapt the existing factory infrastructure, the ActiveCockpit platform for interactive communication which enables faster decisions, and Active Assist, an intelligent assembly assistance system.

The ActiveShuttle’s laser navigation system ensures safe and efficient transportation in high traffic work environments.
The ActiveShuttle’s laser navigation system ensures safe and efficient transportation in high traffic work environments.

The challenge which the industrial sector faces today is twofold: maintaining employment levels and making the factory competitive. Once again, the solution is provided by Industry 4.0. Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, collaboration between operators and machines, real-time data exchange speed, digitisation and flexibility of production processes: these are the key words describing the change which industry is experiencing. Assembly lines are changing and becoming modular, collaborative robotics and real-time data exchange are becoming fundamental. In this context, Bosch Rexroth has developed a number of solutions for the transition to the digital factory of the future, whose key players are mobile robots, communication platforms and assistance systems.

Active Assist improves assembly quality and limits operator stress.
Active Assist improves assembly quality and limits operator stress.

Safe and efficient transportation in high-traffic environments

One solution is the ActiveShuttle, an innovative Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) developed by Bosch Rexroth. As a safe, efficient and fully automated load transport system, the ActiveShuttle transports wheeled bases which are loaded with light load containers in an extremely flexible and safe way. At the same time, the ActiveShuttle Management System ensures optimum control of the entire system as well as greater transparency in the context of Intralogistics 4.0. The self-propelled industrial trucks are loaded or unloaded in a completely automated process with the help of an integrated lifting platform, taking logistics requirements into account. Thanks to its plug & go capability, the AGV can be installed and integrated quickly, without the need to adapt the existing factory infrastructure. The ActiveShuttle’s laser navigation system ensures safe and efficient transport in high traffic work environments. Even though other transportation vehicles may be operating at the same time, and people may be present, the vehicle fits seamlessly into the intralogistics traffic, capable of transporting objects weighing up to 260 kg to their destination, at a maximum speed of 1 m/s. Thanks to increased connectivity and transparency within the value stream, in the future automotive companies fully adopting 4.0 solutions will be able to make the handling of materials and components even more cost-effective.

Active Assist provides real-time quality control through hand-tracking.
Active Assist provides real-time quality control through hand-tracking.

Speeding up solutions and decisions

Regarding the flow of information from the individual workstation up to IT level, this is taken care of by ActiveCockpit. This interactive communication platform, with its new apps, collects all relevant data from the connected production equipment, dynamically updates them and presents them in real time, providing the basis for continuous optimisation of all processes and increased availability. As a link between production, corporate IT and humans, the software already enables fully integrated production, which will become the norm in the factory of the future. The system facilitates rapid connection to back-end systems, with ERP and app interfaces. The commissioning of the software does not require programming: it is sufficient to configure the system according to the current system and select the app-based functions. The ActiveCockpit interactive communication platform speeds up decisions and solutions, enabling data to be derived at any moment from the optimal added value process: for this purpose, it provides production data to employees on site in real time. This makes processes more transparent, since ActiveCockpit displays any deviations immediately, allowing employees to take immediate optimisation measures. All decisions are recorded in the specific automatically generated protocol and forwarded to the IT network, thereby setting the new standard.

ActiveCockpit captures all relevant data from connected production equipment.
ActiveCockpit captures all relevant data from connected production equipment.

Error-free assembly

One of Bosch Rexroth’s top solutions in the “ Factory of the Future “ context is Active Assist, the intelligent assembly assistance system integrating sensor systems and guiding workers through the various assembly phases. As a support for the essential data flow between the physical assembly stations and the IT network, Active Assist is designed to create an operational dialogue between the worker and the virtual network through data exchange.
Using the principles of assisted driving with integrated systems and visual operating instructions, Active Assist is capable of significantly reducing error margins, offering an advanced sensory assistance system which contributes to the concept of safety in the sense of error-free assembly. Bringing the risk of error to almost zero, Active Assist’s guided behaviour improves assembly quality and limits operator stress linked to frequent movement changes and the risk of mistakes, by indicating assembly sequences and confirming their correctness via error-proof “poka-yoke” devices. The system provides real-time quality verification through hand-tracking, the visual recognition of hand positions by means of a light indicator.