Like last year, the folks at Bosch Rexroth were kind enough to make their CEO and chairman, Dr. Karl Tragl, available to me at a recent tradeshow. Also like last year, I was impressed with the open and honest nature of the discussion that Dr. Tragl would have with me.
I asked him lots of questions, and what follows is the summary of that discussion.
As I reported last month, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has hit the multinational manufacturing market in a very big way. Hence, I was curious about Dr. Tragl's take of this sweeping phenomenon.
Bosch Rexroth is clearly into Connected Industry (the term he prefers), Industry 4.0, IIoT, or whatever you call it. In fact, Bosch Rexroth is one of the few companies that can walk the walk. By this, I mean that it actually employs these concepts in its own factories. Most of the suppliers just offer one portion of the design chain, but making its products requires Bosch Rexroth to implement just about every piece.
I asked about the company's ability to write software, since this is becoming a competitive advantage for many vendors. Though software is one of its core competencies, Dr. Tragl said, it partners with lots of third parties in this area.
I asked, "What was the biggest thing that happened in the manufacturing space in the last 12 months?" He replied, "The Connected Industry phenomenon."
I was interested (and a little surprised) to learn that Bosch Rexroth engages in what Dr. Tragl called "scouting projects." Some of these projects see the light of day. Some do not. "But it's important to encourage and fund these projects, because it's where many of our best ideas come from." The company also encourages university students to work there, because these students have some great ideas. "It also helps us find some great people to work for us."
Finally, Dr. Tragl wanted to be sure I was aware of a video (below) that showed Bosch Rexroth employed in what could be termed an "extreme application."
With its partner Allseas Group, Bosch Rexroth developed and engineered the drive and control system used in what it calls the world's largest mobile lifting mechanism for offshore installations. The special vessel equipped with this topside lifting system (TLS) can lift and transport topsides of offshore platforms with a weight of up to 48,000 tons -- in one piece. That's quite a load, if I say so myself.
I'm already looking forward to next year.