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Bosch to bring Industry 4.0 expertise to Vision trade fair

Technology company Bosch will exhibit for the first time at the Vision trade fair, to be held from 8 to 10 November in Stuttgart, Germany.

Bosch will be showing its Apas Inspector solution for smart manufacturing. The company also brings its expertise on Industry 4.0 to the show, a German concept standing for the fourth industrial revolution, whereby factory machines are networked and manufacturing data interrogated to improve productivity. The USA and Asia are working on similar concepts for smart factories.

Wolfgang Pomrehn, product manager for the Apas family at Bosch, told journalists attending a Vision show press conference held on 25 August at Bosch’s Stuttgart site, that the Apas system is designed with human-machine cooperation in mind.

The inspection system can be manually or automatically loaded, and contains sensors that mean it stops working if a human gets too close and starts again once the hand or arm is out of the way.

‘The factory of the future requires concepts in which humans and machines work hand in hand, and where machines support humans in their work,’ Pomrehn commented in a statement.

Bosch relies on machine vision, Pomrehn told Imaging and Machine Vision Europe. He said the company has around 1,000 vision systems operating at various points in its production facilities.

Bosch’s production equipment and its IT infrastructure link through the OPC UA (Unified Architecture) interface, which provides an infrastructure for interoperability of devices across the factory IT enterprise.

Through being able to network its various production stations, Bosch can gather and analyse data – including that from Apas – in its IT Cloud solution to give reports on how the factory is running. In the past, production equipment was standalone; the idea is to improve efficiency by connecting different machines through the IT enterprise.

The machine vision arm of the VDMA is working on a machine vision companion specification for the OPC UA standard.

Dr Horst Heinol-Heikkinen, the CEO of Asentics and a board member of VDMA Machine Vision, commented during the press conference that some of the ideas behind Industry 4.0 are something machine vision could theoretically always do, but that it’s now more about how the data from vision systems is used by factories.

Heinol-Heikkinen presented the latest VDMA figures for German vision sales turnover, which reached €2 billion in 2015 and is expected to grow eight per cent in 2016.

He noted that the automotive sector remains the most important area for machine vision, accounting for 22 per cent of total revenue in 2015. He also said that there is a growing demand for machine vision in Asia, particularly in China where there is a need for quality control.

Germany exported 21 per cent of machine vision goods to Asia in 2015, with year-on-year growth in exports to China at 19 per cent.

The Vision trade fair is expected to have more than 400 exhibitors from 28 countries when it opens its doors in November. Around 57 per cent of the exhibitors will be from outside Germany, with more Chinese companies exhibiting, showing the strength of vision technology being made in China.

Bosch’s Apas inspection solution, which will be on display at the show, has variable inspection modules that are designed to be interchangeable depending on the needs of production. It uses 3D imaging and can inspect matt or glossy surfaces, give completeness checks, as well as carry out micro-crack and dimensional inspection.

Furthermore, Apas can be trained to identify faults and distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘reject’ parts.

‘In flexible production systems, people and machines are working closer and closer together,’ Pomrehn commented in a statement. ‘Thanks to the learning vision, even an inexperienced employee can “show” the system the relevant characteristics required to ensure reliable inspection. We have taught the machines how to translate human thoughts, offering employees significant support.’

Further information:

Bosch Apas Family

Vision Stuttgart

VDMA Machine Vision


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