Dr. Steffen Haack,
Head of Sales Factory Automation, Bosch Rexroth AG, Lohr am Main:
"We see a polarization of the customer requirement: especially Chinese and Indians prefer 'just enough'Products."
The control world of Bosch Rexroth is called 'Control City'. Like a diverse and international city, it offers everything for every need - in this case, from the simple engine to the complicated controls. development scout spoke at the automation fair SPS / IPC / Drives with Dr. Ing. Steffen Haack, who is responsible for the pneumatic, hydraulic and mechanical systems within the factory automation as well as the electrical drive and control technology.
development scout: What is the order situation and the economic situation at the end of the year 2010 at Bosch Rexroth?
Dr. Haack: The economic situation in mechanical and plant engineering has eased considerably. We are also seeing an upward trend at Bosch Rexroth. For the further development of the industry, automation technology will play a role that should not be underestimated: It exploits existing efficiency potential and enables the necessary innovations, which can turn the positive trend into a stable development.
development scout: Rexroth has undertaken a major reorientation this year. Please briefly explain the new corporate structure. What changes have resulted for today's factory automation business?
Dr. Haack: Rexroth serves the relevant markets with the three Business Units 'Mobile Applications', 'Industrial Applications' and 'Renewable Energies' more targeted than before. In all three areas, we have consistently positioned ourselves in sales according to sectors and thus even more customer-oriented.
For the factory automation market segment within the Industrial Applications business unit, Rexroth offers a unique product portfolio because we manufacture our own mechanical, pneumatic, hydraulic and electrical products and can really offer our customers cross-technology solutions from a single source. Our industry specialists of various technologies can advise customers at an early stage in their development process. The focus of our solutions is on the customer, who quickly moves from "state A" to the desired "state B", regardless of which technology he uses.
development scout: So they are now increasingly focusing on cross-technology solutions; what role does the component and systems business play?
Dr. Haack: The basis of our business are first-class components which we merge into system-specific solutions. Of course, the single component must be just as competitive as the resulting system solution. We assume that the trend in the factory automation industries will continue towards mechatronic and thus cross-technology solutions and that the proportion will grow to an average of 5% over the next 25 years. We see emphasis in the cross-sectional area of assembly and handling as well as in the solar and semiconductor industries, but also in packaging technology.
development scout: Rexroth has developed a completely new control portfolio in electrical engineering in recent years, which relies on open interfaces. How is this accepted on the market?
Dr. Haack: When we talk about 'openness' we mean three things in addition to the standard programming according to IEC 61131 at Rexroth: firstly, we make it possible to integrate components that we ourselves do not have in our portfolio, ie the integration of the so-called 3rd party solutions. Secondly, we have developed a multi-protocol interface that allows connection to established fieldbus systems. And third, we rely on the very powerful, manufacturer-independent real-time Ethernet standard Sercos III. Today we offer a variety of components of the different technologies with Sercos and are thus able to provide the complete machine automation - from sensors to control.
development scout: Which innovations do you present here at the SPS?
Dr. Haack: A highlight here in Nuremberg is the handling system 'EasyHandling', with which the times for project planning, assembly and commissioning of handling systems can be reduced by up to 80 percent. Here we show what potential lies in the perfect interaction of all drive and control technologies with standardized mechanical and electrical interfaces as well as an intelligent commissioning assistant. With EasyHandling even I get the commissioning of an axle within one and a half minutes - and I really do not do this every day.
Furthermore, with the 'IndraLogic XLC' we present a new family of PLC controls, which offers far more than the familiar PLC standard functions. With new functions, modular software projects can be implemented with less effort. Flexibly applicable basic motion control functionalities and real-time communication via Sercos III provide additional benefits. Further innovations include the hardware platforms 'IndraControl L25' and 'L85' or Sercos III I / O modules for position control of hydraulic axes. In the series of compact drives, IndraDrive Cs ', we complement the range of functions with the safely switched-off torque, Safe Torque Off' and the safe brake control 'Safe Brake Control'. This also applies to the most recent performance class 'Economy', which already offers sufficient basic functionality for many servo drive tasks.
development scout: Easy Handling and Economy: That sounds a bit like 'back to the roots'?
Dr. Haack: These products are responding to another trend that has intensified through the crisis. We have found that priorities shift when building a machine. Not only the work on the last tenth of a second of machine performance is in the focus today, but also the time for the engineering and commissioning of the machine itself is becoming increasingly important. Today average cycle times for the serial production of simple CNC machine tools for turning and milling of leading Chinese manufacturers are around 10 minutes, short start-up times therefore play an important role.
In addition, we see a polarization of the customer requirement: Asians, especially Chinese and Indians, prefer products that we have developed according to the "just enough" concept. The environmental conditions and the requirements of the machine and thus the automation are completely different than, for example, a CNC machining center with one hundred and more axes. So we have to develop products that fit exactly into the respective markets. To do this, we are strengthening the local local value added chain in the regions - currently in China and India. A good example of this is our MTX micro- a CNC for simple turning and milling machines for the Asian market.
development scout: You have been in your position as Chairman of the Division's Business for the past 1 ½ years - first Electric Drives and Controls - now Factory Automation. In this time fell the crisis and the restructuring of the company. What experiences did you personally make?
Dr. Haack: Nearly all forecasting institutions had a poor "hit rate" in terms of crisis forecasting, and we must be prepared to go down in all markets simultaneously in the future as well. For such uncertain times, companies need to be better prepared. I'm sure that our new industry lineup, very close to the customer, is an important step in that direction.
development scout: What innovations can we expect next year?
Dr. Haack: Since I do not want to take the tension now, we are currently presenting a whole series of new products here in Nuremberg. Just in advance: We will launch 2011 with a completely new, vector-controlled generation of frequency converters.
Interview by Editor in Chief Angela Scheufler.