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PLM Portal: all product knowledge in a central place

Lifecycle management powered by Bosch Semantic Stack

PLM Portal: all product knowledge in a central place

Summary

Bosch Rexroth manufactures innovative products and systems for the factory of the future. The product range includes industrial hydraulics, gear technology, linear motion technology, production assistants, resistance welding etc. This kind of industrial equipment is often highly customized and ordered in lot size one. While this product variety is a major benefit for customers, it poses a great challenge for employees working along the products’ life cycle, e.g. technicians in customer service. Finding the required information about a specific product that was possibly even manufactured years ago is often a difficult task and requires the access to many databases, or even printed sheets.

The Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Portal is the visualization of a new data-driven service developed by Bosch Rexroth in cooperation with Bosch Connected Industry. It enables users to access information about each type, variant and individual products manufactured at Bosch Rexroth. Thanks to the PLM Portal, they now receive all information with a few clicks, including technical details about the life cycle of the product. The user-friendly web-based interface stands on the strong basis of a cutting-edge technology. In fact, it is a tailored, product-centric software solution based on Bosch Semantic Stack.

The successes at a glance

Growing transparency

Digital twins created for approx. 270 mio products from Bosch Rexroth since February 2020

Optimized customer support

Instant data availability for a certain product or product type

Basis for intelligent services

Enables data-driven solutions for industrial manufacturers, partners and customers

Background

Industrial manufacturers are facing ever-growing customer requirements. In many areas, a one-size-fits-all approach has become a thing of the past. Increased individualization makes customer service more complex and time-consuming. Digitalization helps to improve and accelerate customer-centric service. However, a conventional database is not enough to keep track of the millions of product types and variants that are being produced and used around the globe. Instead, including all data available in a standard database creates new challenges such as longer loading times and increased complexity – especially when dynamic field data enters the stage.

Bosch Rexroth with its huge product variety therefore called for a state-of-the-art technology stack. Their expectations for a software solution were clear:

  • All information regarding a specific product must be available quickly and at a glance.
  • Data loss, redundancies, and incorrect classification caused by too many individual data silos must be eliminated.
  • What’s needed is a centralized and easy-to-use access point for service providers and support centers.

The PLM Portal achieves this by using digital twin technology powered by Bosch Semantic Stack. As opposed to a simple collection of raw data, it is a cockpit of meaningful knowledge about each individual product and all its life cycle phases.

Solution

The PLM Portal started with the idea of consolidating the master data of each product on a single platform. This is where the digital twin technology of Bosch Semantic Stack comes into play: a digital twin is created during product development and accompanies the physical products throughout their entire life cycle. All data from different life cycle phases, such as engineering, manufacturing, and field use, is collected by these twins. To make the data easily accessible, it is equipped with generally understandable, machine- and human-readable descriptions and their semantic context. All the information concerning a specific product can be found in one place, bundled in aspects such as master data, malfunctions, or maintenance history. Thanks to the worldwide unique Global Thing ID (GLTID), the data of millions of products can be clearly identified and attributed to the right asset.

If, for example, a customer bought a certain pump variation a couple of years ago and now wants to operate it with a different throughput – how can the customer be assured to receive a fast and satisfying answer? Thanks to the PLM Portal, the service agent can instantly find out which specifications need to be altered to fulfill the new requirements. Service agents no longer need to search for information like data sheets in various virtual archives or have several calls with other departments. They can answer almost all requests immediately by accessing all information about a specific digital twin at once, leading to much higher customer satisfaction and faster purchase decisions.

Outlook

Outlook

Since the productive launch in February 2020, digital twins have been created for approximately 270 million manufactured products at Bosch Rexroth and are instantly available in the PLM Portal. More are being created every day. The individual digital twins are also expanded continuously, for instance by integrating field data from daily customer operations to obtain a more and more complete picture of each product. The PLM Portal enables intelligent, data-driven approaches such as extracting additional product-centric insights and will provide a strong foundation for AIoT use cases along the entire life cycle of a product. Bosch Semantic Stack also makes it possible to create an Asset Administration Shell (AAS) for each digital twin and therefore each (integrated) Rexroth product, making them easily consumable for external developers or software. Step by step, the PLM Portal will grow into a data ecosystem that not only serves Bosch Rexroth, but also partners and customers.

The PLM Portal is a knowledge cockpit for every employee working in customer support. No question is left unanswered, information can be retrieved with a few clicks.

Uwe Haas, Head of Enabling Digital Products and CPO for Digital Product Twin, Bosch Rexroth

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