A Look at the Factory of the Future

Bosch Rexroth showed off IoT-enabled automation, assembly and handling at this month's Design & Manufacturing Show.

According Mike Vandemortel, senior sales engineer at Bosch Rexroth, all things industrial need to be IoT-enabled by 2022.

Bosch Rexroth showed off how such connectivity can become a reality through IoT-enabled automation, assembly and handling in the company's vision of the Factory of the Future.

The first demo was the Mechatronics @ Work cell, which allowed attendees to order a customized golf ball sleeve using a tablet to select the desired stack of three colored golf balls. Once the order is entered, the job is processed and tracked throughout the production flow and the status is displayed live on the i4.0 Cube display.

Some of the more impressive elements of this display include the IoT Gateway Rack, which connects all areas of production from sensors to machine data, and the IndraDrive Mi, a cabinet-free drive system that decreases machine footprint by reducing component count and using 90 percent less wiring. According to Vandemortel, OEMs are trying to eliminate the cabinet and upgrade without adding floor space — they want to design without a cabinet.

What I found most impressive was the company’s Digital Linear Motion Technology demonstration. The demo showed off some of the company's configurators, but it also showed an example of commissioning and starting production on a new machine.

A performance dashboard provided real-time stats, such as mileage traveled as well as lubrication intervals for predictive and preventative maintenance on motion components. It also provided maintenance alerts on a touch screen overlay that could help solve problems by providing access to videos, manuals or even buying new parts — right on the machine. That, and the gimmick was a claw machine, and I'm a sucker for a claw machine.

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