Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is home to one of the plants owned by Bosch Rexroth, the parent company of the Rexroth electrical industrial motion control systems in which we specialize. When you need service or support for any Rexroth electric drive and control machinery, call us at (479) 422-0390 for immediate assistance.
The Bethlehem local news source, the Morning Call, reported on a Manufacturing Day 2017 tour of the Bosch Rexroth plant. The reporter learned about Industry 4.0 and appreciated the high-tech nature of the changes going on at the plant. Using Xbox Kinect technology, workers sped up their processing, saving the facility three hours a day.
Another participant in the tour asked how many people had lost their jobs in the process, and the tour guide answered, “Several.”
The tour came up again in a new article in the Morning Call exploring automation in the Lehigh Valley. But the Bosch Rexroth representatives on Manufacturing Day had more to say than just, “Several.” For one thing, they pointed out that they were celebrating their 50th anniversary in Bethlehem. Over a period of 50 years, there are bound to be changes in the working environment, and in the specific tasks workers undertake.
“Industry 4.0 provides more opportunity for employees, giving people more creative and complex tasks while shifting other work to machines,” the company explained. “The non-value-added work falls away, so the people don’t have to run the non-value-added work. They’re going to be deployed into value-added work. They’re not being replaced by the technology.”
The company is, after all, still there and heading for their 53rd anniversary.
An AssemblyMag update in November pointed out that the Bethlehem plant now produces a staggering 34,500 product variants. ActiveCockpit software visualizes data from all over the plant and makes it available to everyone, using not only a giant screen in the plant, but also devices ranging from workers’ smartphones to desktops in private offices.
The team uses ActiveCockpit for a 15 minute kickoff meeting and the beginning of every shift, and keeps using the data throughout the day to identify issues and head them off. RFID technology and a light guidance system configure each work station for the work and the operators.
Boasting a 2.8-year return on investment, the plant has seen a 27% reduction in cycle time, a 50% reduction in downtime-related maintenance, and a 50% reduction in overall footprint.
It’s a testament to the ways that automation can improve workers’ lives.