Andrei Merkulov -

How Bosch is driving Industry 4.0 in India

Bosch India is leveraging advanced analytics and artificial intelligence to detect manufacturing defects and plans to tap quantum computing for material simulation

Bosch is one of India’s earliest industrial pioneers, powering industries such as automotive and energy since it established its presence in the country a century ago.

In 1951, it set up its Indian manufacturing operations, which have been strengthened over the years to include 18 manufacturing sites and seven development and application centres.

More recently, the German conglomerate has localised advanced automotive technologies to support India’s desire to be more self-reliant and resilient and is supporting the development of Industry 4.0 in India by creating agile, future-ready plants and integrating local suppliers into its ecosystem.

Take its Bidadi plant, for example. In the past two years, the plant has not only become a low-cost manufacturing facility, but through a flexible labour model, it has been able to secure more temporary manpower while implementing advanced analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to detect manufacturing defects.

Its Nashik plant, on the other hand, has focused on behaviour-based safety to reduce first-aid cases and near-miss accidents, while the Naganathapura plant is implementing low-cost automation to improve operational efficiency.

Underpinning Bosch India’s Industry 4.0 efforts are its software capabilities spanning industrial IoT (internet of things), quantum computing and AI.

Initially, the company teamed up with Indian companies with expertise in software development, but it later formed Bosch Global Software Technologies (BGSW) to tap India’s vast technology talent.

Vadiraj Krishnamurthy, chief technology officer and vice-president of BGSW, said the company is now looking to strengthen its research and development (R&D) in areas such as digital twins, connected mobility and supply chain automation. It has started a hackers’ garage and an innovation fund to nurture and incubate promising ideas.

On the cutting edge of things, Bosch India has concrete plans to tap quantum computing for materials simulations.

Krishnamurthy said the company has had years of experience in materials simulations using conventional computers, along with the ability to mass-produce high-end technology products. This includes electric vehicles, which could be built with new materials designed by quantum computers that improve energy efficiency and reduce consumption of natural resources, he added.

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Bosch India has also leveraged IoT and AI to build an artificial intelligence of things (AIoT) platform, which is being showcased at its campus headquarters in Bangalore, with people remainng at the centre of its AI efforts.

Krishnamurthy said: “The differentiating factor between AI and human intelligence is the human element of empathy. Our approach is to close this gap so that humans and technology can work seamlessly.

“We are running research projects on human compatible machines or ‘internet of behaviour’, which mainly focus on understanding human emotions along with sensing the environment through classic IoT to offer more relevant insights in our connected products.”

Meanwhile, like many other technology and industrial firms, Bosch India is driving efforts to manage its carbon footprint. At the Bidadi site, various measures to reduce energy consumption have been implemented using a smart energy management system. This has enabled the plant to achieve 680MWh of energy savings in 2021.

On how the company is measuring the impact of its Industry 4.0 initiatives, Krishnamurthy cited two dimensions: how its employees are using digital technologies to work effectively and innovate, and how its customer and partners are experiencing its products and services.

“The way we look at measuring the impact is based on our digital maturity model which encompasses different elements like process optimisation, digital adaption and impact creation,” he said. “In the next two to three years, our aim is to jump by at least two to three steps ahead in our maturity model.”

Last month, Bosch announced that it will invest €10bn by 2025 in digitisation and connectivity. Two-thirds of that will go towards developing and expanding promising new technologies, with a focus on sustainability, mobility and Industry 4.0.

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