Telematics Control Units based on microprocessors are open and modular systems, usually on the basis of a layer architecture. This makes them flexibly deployable for a wide range of use cases, including future ones. (photo: Bosch Rexroth)
Software updates are about much more than fixing bugs and closing security gaps. In both mobile applications and industrial environments, more and more manufacturers are realizing that they can provide additional functionality for their diverse assets through updates. That way, they are not only addressing the needs of their customers. They can also understand software updates as a basis for implementing new business models in the future.
With the help of over-the-air updates (OTA), this can now be achieved much more easily and efficiently. Manufacturers don’t have to send out technicians to manually install updates, and customers aren’t forced to bring their machines into the shop.
A question of device technology
As customer needs are constantly changing and establishing new business models takes time, industrial asset manufacturers are faced with the question: What basis can they build on today to exploit the full potential of software updates in the future?
A key answer lies in choosing the right IoT hardware. Whether it’s a construction, agricultural or forestry machine, manufacturers need to consider which devices they want to use to network their assets. The distinction between a microprocessor and a microcontroller architecture plays an important role here.
The important distinction between microprocessors and microcontrollers – example Telematics Control Unit
How does this distinction translate to the hardware decision? It is helpful to take a look at the Electronic Control Units (ECU) of a machine – in particular the Telematics Control Unit (TCU): Its aim is to wirelessly connect the machine to higher-level IT systems in the cloud. This is done in the TCU with the help of hardware, an operating system (OS) and various software modules. The TCU is the central networking unit to which other control units and sensors are sometimes connected.
When selecting the right TCU, the focus is less on the question of which functions could be relevant in the future. It is more about laying the foundation for the flexibility and future-proofing of the entire IoT solution.
Deep dive: the whitepaper "Telematics for Construction and Agricultural Machinery: Device Management" shows how off-highway machines can be efficiently and securely connected via the Internet of Things without reaching a technological dead end.
Download whitepaper here
Compared to a microprocessor-based TCU, a microcontroller-based TCU is often less expensive and may well cover all the requirements that a manufacturer currently has. However, should new customer needs or technical progress arise in the future, things will become more complex: Due to specialization and cost optimization, these devices typically have limited resources, so they allow only limited customization and expansion. For example, it is almost impossible to extend such a microcontroller architecture with a 5G module without changing the existing design significantly. This in turn entails correspondingly extensive software changes, because with a new architecture, the old software cannot be simply reused.
A TCU based on microprocessors may be more expensive to purchase, but manufacturers can react more flexibly to new developments by means of software updates. Software changes are easier and faster to make because such systems have open interfaces and typically have many libraries available. Thus, the implementation of a 5G module would be much easier by extending the software. The microprocessor architecture also creates better conditions for bringing new applications to the device in the future and thus realizing new business models (such as licensing models).
Overview telematics hardware architecture based on microprocessor vs. microcontroller (source: Bosch Rexroth)
A flexible approach to over-the-air updates
The properties and possibilities of hardware architectures therefore depend heavily on the basis on which they are built: microcontrollers or microprocessors. Manufacturers are therefore well advised to take these fundamental differences into account in their strategic considerations. However, this does not mean having to choose. When using a TCU from Rexroth (BODAS RCU), the integrated OTA Update Agent comes into play. As a central software agent, it not only ensures smooth updates of the TCU itself. It can also network downstream devices based on microcontrollers and distribute over-the-air updates in a targeted manner.
Dr. Christian Grabe is Business Owner Project Digital Business Mobile Hydraulics at Bosch Rexroth in Stuttgart. Christian has more than 15 years’ experience in off-road machinery systems & embedded software development. In his position he is elaborating new business concepts and digital products in the field of connected off-highway machines.
He presented his position on microcontrollers vs. microprocessors also at the Expert Panel "Over-the-Air Updates for Off-Highway Machines" hosted by Bosch in November 2020. The experts on the panel addressed questions such as:
- Why did OTA become such a relevant topic?
- What impact does an OTA solution have on your business?
- Which possible challenges do you need to consider when rolling out updates over-the-air?
- What will you have to take into account for implementation?What role will OTA play in the coming years?
Watch the Expert Panel discussion as an on-demand webinar here
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Harvesters are impressive machines. They work extremely economically – provided they are in operation. Together with Bosch Rexroth and Bosch.IO, forestry machine manufacturer Ponsse is taking its after-sales service to the next level.
As for every manufacturer of off-highway vehicles, after-sales service is an equally important and demanding task for Ponsse. This is because the efficient cut-to-length forestry machines of the Finnish company usually work in remote locations and under considerable loads. In order to avoid unplanned standstill times and minimize downtimes, Ponsse Service must act promptly and at an early stage. This is all the more true in the case of full-service contracts including extensive maintenance work. With the help of the Internet of Things and IoT solutions from Bosch Rexroth and Bosch.IO, Ponsse has come a great deal closer to meeting the customer’s wish to keep mobile machines ready for operation at all times.
Deeper insights for more productivity
The hardware and software components of the IoT partners Bosch Rexroth and Bosch.IO fit seamlessly into the existing infrastructure of Ponsse. They make the condition of the machine transparent and allow service technicians an even deeper insight from a distance. Ponsse can thus offer its customers a completely new level of support.
By default, harvesting machines often work in very remote areas. This is why it is crucial to reduce unplanned standstill times and downtimes to an absolute minimum. (Picture: Ponsse)
Concentrated IoT competence of long-standing partners
Ponsse has already had its own IoT infrastructure for recording and transmitting machine data for some time. With Ponsse Manager, the company also provides its customers with a tool for managing their operations, vehicle fleets and documentation processes. The long-standing cooperation with Bosch Rexroth in the field of hydraulic components has been expanded as part of the ongoing digital transformation.
Structure-borne noise analyses on rotating components such as hydraulic pumps now create the prerequisites for predictive maintenance. The usage data of Rexroth components are also included in the preventive consideration. The data collected in the vehicle is analyzed with the help of special algorithms, also developed by Bosch Rexroth.
Modular building blocks
In this IoT project, individual modules from the modular IoT value proposition BODAS Connect are used. With BODAS Connect, Bosch Rexroth offers off-highway manufacturers a great deal of freedom in designing their infrastructure and shortens the solution development time with proven and easy-to-configure modules. The portfolio of the Bosch Rexroth IoT kit ranges from connectivity devices to device management, data management and a comprehensive portfolio of apps and services. Ponsse uses an intelligent sensor solution as well as the cloud-based data management service Bosch IoT Insights from Bosch.IO. This is where the collected data is stored, managed and visualized by means of dashboards.
Proactive customer service
The IoT solution introduced in 2019 is having a positive impact at Ponsse. The after-sales service has become more proactive and the company is able to point its customers to potential problems and take action even before a machine fails. All in all, Ponsse can now take care of its customers’ problems faster and more efficiently, and contact with the service department is an even more positive experience.
Author: Olaf Marshall
Job title: Marketing Communications Mobile Hydraulics
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The ready-to-install linear axes from Bosch Rexroth celebrate their anniversary this year. Reason enough to look back into the past, but also towards the future. We want to show our users what advantages and improvements result from this for you. Our product range has consistently evolved over the last few years: from individual components to complete mechatronic solutions. Join us here and now on a voyage of discovery and find out which applications you can realize with our products. We invite you to take a journey with us through an exciting transformation process that is far from completed.
By constantly developing and advancing its range of linear axes, Bosch Rexroth has been leading the field for more than 30 years. Thanks to our extremely wide and varied range of products and services, our customers are always one step ahead in all sectors and for all linear motion technology applications. As a technological leader, we’ve been setting milestones for decades and our customers benefit from our wealth of experience. As a leading provider with global application experience in the field and a leading user of our own products, we enable you to win any long-distance race. By constantly developing innovative products, we ensure that you and we are well prepared for the future of linear movement.
At full speed for 30 years: Experience moving moments with our linear axes.
From individual components to smart mechatronic solution packages
Over the last three decades, our linear axes portfolio has been further developed on an ongoing basis. In response to customer requirements, it now focuses on electrification and IoT connectivity. With today's linear motion technology components – in combination with sensors, electronics and software – we now also offer you smart mechatronic solutions and subsystems.
Since 2019, we have been taking the next step towards the Factory of the Future by entering into smart automation solutions: In 2019, we set another milestone with the presentation of the first Smart Function Kit for pressing and joining applications at the Hannover Messe trade fair. The ready-to-install mechatronic system kit allows straightforward online product selection/configuration, thus reducing the engineering outlay. Our value proposition here is “plug and produce”, which stands for minimum commissioning effort and requires no programming skills whatsoever.
In addition, two further ready-to-use solution packages are currently on their way to the market: The Smart Function Kit for handling tasks and the sensor-supported compensation module Smart Flex Effector for greater precision in handling robots and Cartesian systems.
With one click into the future of linear motion technology: Discover our new Smart MechatroniX solutions now – virtually and in real life.
30 years of linear axes from Bosch Rexroth – countless milestones
It all began in the early sixties with the development of linear bushings, shafts, slides and transfer tables. In 1990, the first complete linear modules with linear guides in combination with ball screw assemblies and toothed belt drives were launched as ready-to-install sub-systems. The new Rexroth “compact module” product line followed in 1996. In 2007, we began electrifying actuators with the electromechanical cylinder (EMC). Another important milestone in 2018 was the integrated measuring system (IMS). All these product innovations have one thing in common: They were not developed on the drawing board, but always based on very specific customer requirements.
From the first linear modules with high-precision ball rail systems to the first ball rail tables with the Group’s own linear motor drive, from the electromechanical cylinder (EMC) to the Smart Function Kit for pressing applications.
Fast and well on the way today
Today, you as our customer benefit from a broad linear axes portfolio, which enables the supply of mechanics, drives and controls or ready-to-install subsystems from a single source. With the help of online configurators and sizing tools, these can all be compiled and ordered easily and quickly.
Time for a review? To the anniversary page "30 years of linear axes": www.boschrexroth.com/30years
Feel like looking into the future? To the Smart MechatroniX website: www.boschrexroth.com/smart-mechatronix
Find the right linear axis quickly - use our selection and sizing tool: www.boschrexroth.com/linselect
Author: Yvonne Albert
Function: Program Manager Marketing Bosch Rexroth Linear Motion Technology
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When are ball rail systems and ball screw assemblies maintenance-free? More and more often! Read on to find out how linear motion technology is making machines even more productive and environmentally friendly.
Every automation specialist, mechanical engineer or plant engineer would like their machines to run reliably, efficiently and with minimal maintenance. The linear guides and screw drives in these machines should run for as long as possible, ideally with no need for relubrication. If the linear motion systems reach the end of their operating lives with their original lubricant, they were effectively maintenance-free.
Components now run even longer
Designed for optimum running, the ball bearing-mounted profiled rail systems BSHP and the ball screw assemblies BASA from Bosch Rexroth already have long lubrication intervals. And from now on, they need to be relubricated even less often. After all, the surfaces and tracks get better with each technical further development of the production processes. The linear motion technology experts at Rexroth check at regular intervals the extent to which the range of applications with maintenance-free linear motion technology is growing as a result.
The result of continual improvements: Ball rail systems BSHP in the sizes 25 to 45 with grease lubrication can run twice as long as they could before requiring relubrication. (Source: Bosch Rexroth AG)
Four times longer lubrication intervals
The results of the most recent tests show that the intervals for grease lubrication are now up to four times longer. In many applications with smaller loads, our linear motion technology components are now low-maintenance or even completely maintenance-free. For example, the latest generation of the ball screw assemblies BASA with diameters of up to 40 mm achieves up to 200 million revolutions – four times more than before – with their basic lubrication ex works. For size 32 with a 64 mm lead, this equates to a distance of around 12,800 km – the same distance as from Germany to Hawaii.
Thanks to optimized production processes, the lubrication intervals for ball screw assemblies BASA in size 40 or smaller are up to four times longer. (Source: Bosch Rexroth AG)
20,000 km without relubrication
Until its first “pit stop”, a runner block in the latest ball rail systems BSHP in the sizes 15 to 45 covers a distance twice what was previously assumed: up to 20,000 km is possible, the same distance as from Germany to New Zealand. Naturally, the actual performance in individual cases depends on the operating and environmental conditions. Thanks to the lubrication intervals which are now up to four times as long, our linear motion technology can now be used in many more applications with no need for relubrication.
Go easy on your budget and the environment
This is likely to appeal to machine operators too. After all, the lower the maintenance requirements of the linear motion technology, the lower the operating costs. The reduced lubricant consumption is also good for the environment. The linear motion technology from Bosch Rexroth is one step ahead when it comes to the engineering too: thanks to the online configurator, a component designed using the Linear Motion Designer can be configured ready for installation in just a few minutes and then ordered from the e-shop. CAD data are generated and provided automatically.
Ball rail systems BSHP achieve a high level of precision, lower friction forces and quieter running under load. (Image: Bosch Rexroth AG)
With extra rolling elements and a preloaded single nut, ball screw assemblies BASA achieve higher load ratings in spite of their short design. (Image: Bosch Rexroth AG)
Tip for design engineers:
Would you like to know the applications where our linear motion technology can now be used maintenance-free? Our software tool will tell you. Download the Linear Motion Designer now and design systems requiring less maintenance. Link: www.boschrexroth.com/lmd
Author: Sebastian Pfeuffer
Job title: Product Manager – Ball Rail Systems, Bosch Rexroth AG
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Smart MechatroniX for the Factory of the Future
With the new Smart MechatroniX solution platform, we at Bosch Rexroth are following the market trends in factory automation and paving the way to the Factory of the Future. The Factory of the Future will be much more intelligent, flexible, connected and software-based than factories today. And it will also be more sustainable and future-proof. As one of the leading suppliers of linear motion technology and mechatronic systems, we are close to our markets and know the current and future customer requirements. Against this backdrop, we have now added sensors, electronics and software to our best-in-class linear motion technology components in order to offer completely new mechatronic solutions.
Plug & Produce, Perform, Proceed...
...is the credo of Smart MechatroniX. The resulting cross-sector and cross-application benefits are as smart as the name itself: Simplicity and travel speed from development to the start of production, high performance during operation and sustainability thanks to permanent updatability and flexible use of components and modules. “Plug & Produce” sums up the advantages of the smart ready-to-use solution packages: easy and quick product selection, intuitive commissioning without any programming and quick adaptability for future requirements. What more could you ask for
In terms of “Perform”, we score as a leading supplier and user, not only with best-in-class linear motion technology components, but also with our expertise in factory automation and the IoT know-how of the Bosch Group. The results are intelligent mechatronic solutions that enable maximum process transparency as well as high productivity and efficiency during operation. And because the subject of sustainability plays an increasingly important role today, future-oriented benefits are bundled under “Proceed”: modular and retrofittable systems which allow flexible use of the long-lasting components in a manner which conserves resources. These are manufactured in our own CO 2 -neutral production facilities at various Rexroth locations.
Three Smart MechatroniX solution packages in the starting or test phase
Three smart solutions: The Smart Function Kit for pressing and joining applications, the Smart Function Kit for handling tasks and the compensation module Smart Flex Effector.
The Smart Function Kit for pressing and joining applications, which was presented at the Hannover Messe 2019, allows Plug & Produce and requires zero programming. It consists of an electromechanical cylinder, a force sensor, a motor, a servo drive, a motion control as well as a software package that enables easy commissioning, operation and process analysis. Other advantages include easy product selection and dimensioning via LinSelect as well as quick online configuration and ordering.
The Smart Function Kit for handling tasks is currently in preparation. It consists of smart single or multi-axis systems, innovative control technology and software for versatile applications where components or workpieces have to be moved precisely and reliably from A to B in a defined space. The associated software package once again allows for straightforward commissioning, operation and process analysis.
We are currently developing the Smart Flex Effector, a compensation module with an active measuring function to increase the precision, e.g. in handling robots, and to open up completely new areas of application for robots and Cartesian systems. The Smart Flex Effector can be used in a wide range of applications. For example, when it comes to joining small tolerances, quality documentation, Tool Center Point detection or compensation of position drifts in the x-, y- and z-direction. This means that there will be completely new possibilities here in the future.
Component monitoring as our next goal
Other important topics for the Factory of the Future are ball screw assemblies and linear guides with intelligent sensors for condition monitoring or predictive maintenance. These smart solutions will further reduce machine downtime and maximize plant availability. Curious for more? Just click here: www.boschrexroth.com/smart-mechatronix Watch more videos:
Smart MechatroniX – the new solution platform https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYQcGtWh_tk&list=PLRO3LeFQeLyN9mKIWsPbnOEzvKbO46MsP
Smart Function Kit for pressing and joining tasks https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhtLtv5VtEY&list=PLRO3LeFQeLyN9mKIWsPbnOEzvKbO46MsP&index=3
Smart Function Kit for handling tasks https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbqtCACg8SI&list=PLRO3LeFQeLyN9mKIWsPbnOEzvKbO46MsP&index=2
Smart Flex Effector https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7J8CGmPgkFc&list=PLRO3LeFQeLyN9mKIWsPbnOEzvKbO46MsP&index=9
Author: Dr. Simon Hertenberger
Job title: Head of Product Area Mechatronics within the Linear Motion Technology Business Unit
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