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Three minutes with Bosch Rexroth

16 October 2018

Name: Richard Chamberlain Job Title: Strategic Product Manager Service Company name: Bosch Rexroth

Richard is an experienced Strategic Product Manager with a history of working in the industrial automation industry. An established expert in Industry 4.0 and IoT solutions, Richard supports the implementation of Industry 4.0 for businesses across the UK. Skilled in Process Control, Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) and Control Systems Design, Richard’s role at Bosch Rexroth supports mechanical and plant engineering challenges around the world using cutting-edge technology and unique industry knowledge. Richard also shares his expertise through his role as a lecturer at the Robert Bosch College Germany. 

What do you love about engineering?

Engineering is all about solving challenges – combining creativity with science and technology to answer and overcome problems and improve processes. I enjoy being able to turn theoretical concepts into practical, real-life applications – and the design, development, testing, evaluation and continuous improvement that is part and parcel of the role of any engineer, whatever their discipline.

These days, I’m also excited by the shift in technology. Smart manufacturing, connected equipment, data-driven facility management and preventative maintenance and a connected supply chain are all on the horizon – opening-up real opportunities for the manufacturing industry to work in a far more agile way.

How did you get into the sector?

I started out as an apprentice. The opportunity really appealed to me – a chance to get hands-on experience and acquire practical skills at the same time as learning the theory. Also, because you’re immersed within a business as you learn, apprenticeships give you a unique chance to tap into the existing knowledge and expertise of the people around you.

What is the biggest challenge for the UK’s engineering industry?

The ‘smart factory’ and Industry 4.0 has been a hot topic in recent years. It is an exciting time, but in many cases has caused a sense of panic for businesses who think they need to completely digitise their facility overnight. I think education is key to helping businesses realise that digital technologies are highly scalable – making them relevant to any business, of any size, at any stage of the process. No facility is too large, too small or too old to move towards digitisation. While a complete digital overhaul is possible, most businesses will want to take a slow, strategic, step-by-step approach – adding sensors to the machines they rely on daily is a sensible first step in implementing Industry 4.0, harnessing the power of the data and using it to monitor and improve processes and conduct system health checks.

What do you think is going to make the most impact on the UK engineering industry over the next five years?

I think that the collection and analysis of data using sensors will really make a huge difference in coming years. At plant level, the data can be used to enable production quality checks and reduce batch sizes. It also allows plant managers to conduct accurate machine and system health checks and continuous monitoring. Access to real-time data can inform the scheduling of repairs and maintenance into natural production breaks, preventing costly plant downtime or even system failure.

I also think that the use of AR, VR and artificial intelligence will be increasingly used to predict failures and increase OEE. In fact, we’re already using VR to offer remote support for in-house maintenance teams. Using VR rather than sending a technician to site reduces the customers’ cost of ownership by providing direct support from Rexroth product and application experts via a phone or laptop. They can see everything the customer engineer can see and can also superimpose their hands, tools, documents and diagrams on top of the image displayed to the customer engineer – it’s clever stuff which really extends the service we can offer our customers.

What’s your one piece of advice you would give to young people who might be considering engineering as a career?

My advice would be to study IT - especially data analytics and how to evaluate the data to improve the complete value stream. Given the changes in the way we work, AR and VR along with Artificial Intelligence will also be worth investing in.

What do you see as the key development in the maintenance arena?

Digital transformation is huge for all of industry. With smart manufacturing, connected equipment, data-driven facility management on the horizon, predictive maintenance is increasingly being used to help avoid plant downtime. Typically, components are fitted with sensors which allow the health of machines to be monitored and recorded, so maintenance can be precisely scheduled to cause as little disruption as possible; and, ultimately, day-to-day operations can be carried out more efficiently.

Do you think the SME community is lagging behind the blue-chip companies; if so, how would you aim to remedy this?

I think it is vital that we work with smaller companies to help them to understand that the digitisation of the industry is more evolution than revolution. Moving towards a connected factory doesn’t require a huge upfront investment and is key to ensuring that they don’t get left behind.

For more information about how Bosch Rexroth solutions can improve productivity and increase uptime, visit www.boschrexroth.co.uk