Research Category: Bulk Material Handling
Researchers: Bosch Rexroth|
Location: Berlin, Germany
To address the needs of modern industry Bosch Rexroth has launched a strategy
for automation that will enable UK machine builders to become more competitive
within the global market.
Rexroth’s automation strategy directly confronts the challenges in relation to
minimsing time to market and production time, overall cost of ownership and risk
management that machine builders are increasingly facing. It also acknowledges
and counters the well-documented trend concerning the gradual erosion of
engineering knowledge from within UK industry, as experienced by Original
Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s ), System Integrators and End Users.
Traditionally, conventional machine designers have grouped their product choices
into distinct areas: hydraulics; electric drives; pneumatics; safety; controls;
conveying and mechanics. Each of these areas will normally have several
companies bidding to have their products included on the Bill of Materials (BOM)
and inevitably selected suppliers tend to focus on their ‘bit’. This approach
can cause problems because it complicates the bidding process, increases the
time and energy it takes to source a solution and ultimately increases the
burden placed on the machine builder, should there be a failure, for detecting
culpability and organising repair or replacement across the wide supplier base.
With the largest range of technologies available from Rexroth, the company’s
automation strategy offers the lowest cost of ownership to the machine builder.
One simple benefit is that due to the reduced supplier base the cost of
procurement is signifcantly reduced. Working with a single supplier enables a
reduction in administration and financial management becomes easier.
In practice Rexroth engineers from within its UK and Irish based application
support team work directly with those designing a machine. Rexroth engineers
have access to over 250,000 products across the defined disciplines and more
importantly understand that the overall design of a machine has a greater impact
on the customer’s competitiveness than solely focusing on component cost. An
automation solution designed using Rexroth products brings other benefits to the
machine builder such as the use of common mechanical standards across many of
the company’s technologies and ease of product interoperability, as many of the
products have been designed to work together and are therefore highly
compatible. These factors reduce time to market and mitigate risk, as
responsibility for interoperability lies with Rexroth and not with the machine
builder and a broad supplier base.
Demonstrating the fact that Rexroth’s approach helps deal with the challenges
that industry faces are the benefits that translate through to the areas of
field service and training. Stuart Williams, Automotive Manager for Rexroth
says, “Our approach to automation continues to save machine builders cost once
the equipment is installed. Presently, when a machine experiences a failure in
the field the machine builder may have to request on-site visits by service
engineers from two or more component suppliers in turn before the true problem
is ascertained and a repair is affected. This can result in days of labour being
charged to the machine builder and a period of significant downtime for the end
user. Further to this obvious issue with inefficient handling, down the line,
there may be difficult to quantify but negative effects on the relationship and
goodwill between the machine builder and end user.”
“When Rexroth is used as sole supplier, we take total responsibility and
therefore, as with many aspects of our automation strategy, customers benefit
from an economy of scale. A simple example of this is training. If there are
seven different suppliers’ technologies on one machine and an end user is
running a three shift system that’s an awful lot of training sessions. Rexroth
can reduce the time and cost of training dramatically.”
Particularly relevant for small to medium sized machine building companies is
the fact that Rexroth’s global presence means that end users can be supported
using Rexroth’s infrastructure all over the world. Service can be co-ordinated
seamlessly from the manufacturing country to the country in which the machine is
operating. This is a major element when considering the total cost of ownership
as opposed to the initial savings that can be made during the bid process. It
will be a main driver in the end user’s decision making process in the future.
The issue of warranty is also simplified by consolidating suppliers as
warranties for all the elements of a machine can be harmonised, allowing peace
of mind because the entire machine is fully covered for a defined period.
Additionally, the management of spares is rationalised and problems of
overstocking, or even more seriously the non-availability of spares, can all be
consigned to history.
The automation strategy from Rexroth takes a rounded view of the machine
building process and acknowledges that no single technology can meet all
efficiency and commercial targets in isolation. Considerable savings, not least
in the crucial area of energy consumption, can be made by the intelligent
interlinking of a variety of technologies and this approach will benefit UK
machine builders by making their solutions more competitive and attractive.