Rexroth, China, and Industry 4.0


The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Global Advanced Manufacturing Institute (GAMI) are establishing a new research and training center for Industry 4.0 technology in Suzhou, China. Rexroth is providing the modular assembly line, based on the Industry 4.0 prototype in Homburg, Germany. Called “Industry 4.0 Demonstration and Innovation Center,” it is the first of its kind in China.

The new facility, supported by the “Made in China 2025” initiative that is focusing on bringing more automation into Chinese industrial processes, to keep China competitive  as manufacturing changes. There are currently 20 Chinese engineers in the facility, working closely with German engineers and also with their own supply chains.

The Rexroth assembly line has 90 different options, ranging from traditional manufacturing processes with human workers assembling items by hand, to vertically and horizontally networked production, and everything in between. The line was based on the German prototype but incorporated both the experiences of the users in Homburg and also the special needs of the Chinese market. Each station displays the work steps for the task to be performed there, and the machines are designed to recognize the steps to be performed from sensors on the product itself. Since there is no set-up time required, this approach allows cost-effective short runs of customized products, increasingly expected by consumers and therefore demanded by manufacturers.

The new facility will not only provide important research and training opportunities for China’s manufacturing community, but it will also give opportunities to test international collaboration. The program focuses on such business practices as lean logistics and material flow planning, Six Sigma management, worker safety, and factory audit procedures, in addition to purely technical manufacturing issues. This means that the Suzhou plant will be able to provide answers to many of the questions about how Industry 4.0 will work in the real world factory environment.

While we’re watching the future of manufacturing unfold, you may still need support for your legacy or new Rexroth electric motion control systems. Call us for repair or replacement of controls, drives, servo motors, and power supply modules.

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