Just as IoT is built on cloud computing, Bosch announced that it is building its own cloud, which it sees as a significant step for the advancement of connectivity and all that it enables.
Industrie 4.0 has been featured in tech news recently, as the German government itself is investing 200 million euro in research to help the advance of factories made smarter by digital enterprise technology built by companies like Siemen's and Deutsche Telekom. Industrie 4.0 refers to the innovations in IoT as applied to industry in Germany. The four signifies its status as the fourth wave of the Industrial Revolution. Now, privately owned Bosch is taking a major role in Industrie 4.0 with its own IoT cloud.
Bosch CEO Volkmar Denner announced the launch of the Bosch IoT Cloud at Bosch ConnectedWorld 2016 on March 9. He explained that Bosch built its own cloud rather than relying on existing cloud services to capitalize on the company's extensive experience, domain expertise, and brand recognition. Beyond that, he counted four key benefits for the business:
Strategic completion of our sensor, software, and service portfolio.
Foundation for IoT solutions delivered by Bosch and our partners.
Strong focus on privacy and security.
Important milestone in our transformation into a product company with advanced IoT capabilities.
You can view his remarks here:
Though the cloud has only emerged this year, Bosch has been thinking about Industrie 4.0 for some time. Back in 2013, Mckinsey and Company featured a discussion of Industrie 4.0 with Siegfried Dais, deputy chairman of the board of management at Robert Bosch GmbH, and Heinz Derenbach, CEO of Bosch Software Innovations GmbH. One of the points that Dais made was that the challenge of tracking an increasing number of things involved in the supply chain:
How do we find an architecture that is stable enough to keep everything networked together? I think it will primarily require algorithm specialists and software architects. We will need "steering instruments"—new algorithms and applications that interlink millions of things, that ensure that everything runs stably, and that are synchronized across the entire value chain.
The idea is that the distinction between the physical supply chain and the informational supply chain disappears when the things will be connected via the data transmission. Derenbach observed that industrial IoT "means a physical device becomes an active part of a business process: delivering data, sending events, and processing rules."
Currently, the Bosch IoT Cloud connects over five million devices and machines and delivers a variety of services over the platform. Denner dubbed it, "the brain of the connected world," as it links "devices, users, and companies" to take in and analyze vast quantities of data. For industrial businesses that means that they can have automatic check on machinery to schedule preventative maintenance and signal an alert when something is wrong – all without the need for a manual inspection.
The Bosch IoT Cloud will first be used for the company's own solution and will be located near the company's German headquarters. Denner sees starting out in the company's home country as an advantage for customers who want to be assured of security and compliance with European regulations. He also sees it as a boon to the country's Innovation 4.0 direction, asserting, "Our cloud is a competitive advantage for Germany's status as a seat of innovation."
But Bosch doesn't intend to limit itself to German industry. It intends to expand its cloud services to other countries as of 2017. If it expands globally, Bosch's cloud might pose competition to GE's Predix Cloud, which had described itself this past August as "the world's first and only cloud solution designed specifically for industrial data and analytics." But perhaps as more and more companies turn to IoT and to help them manage their supply chains and make their factories smarter, there will be a real need for more than one industrial cloud.
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