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Bosch moves to smart manufacturing concept in Southeast Asia

The German firm has opened a new smart factory in Thailand and plans to add smart manufacturing capabilities to an existing plant in Vietnam

German company Bosch said it has invested 80 million euros ($96.2 million) to open a smart factory in Thailand to meet the growing automotive market in the Asian country.

Following a one-and-a-half-year construction phase, the European firm is opening a new plant for injection technology in the city of Hemaraj. It is the first smart factory in Thailand, and the second Bosch Mobility Solutions plant in the country.

“Localization is a top priority at Bosch. The new plant will enable us to respond to growing automobile production in Thailand and to serve international as well as local automotive customers on the spot,” Peter Tyroller, the member of the Bosch board of management responsible for Asia Pacific, said.

The implementation of smart manufacturing initiatives includes the deployment of embedded sensors in manufacturing machines to collect data on their operational status and performance. Smart manufacturing is a process that utilizes internet-connected machinery to monitor the overall production process. The main goal of smart manufacturing is to identify opportunities for automating manufacturing operations and use data analytics to improve the overall performance of the manufacturing process.

In a facility covering 10,000 square meters, injection valves, connection technology, knock sensors, and other components roll off the production line. Using an “active cockpit,” manufacturing associates analyze the latest production data. Bosch highlighted that this Industry 4.0 solution brings together a wide range of information in real time and helps increase competitiveness. The new location in Hemaraj also includes a research and development center, where some 60 associates work on the further development of gasoline injection systems, Bosch said.

By 2020, Bosch aims to create 800 new jobs in total in Hemaraj – 300 associates are already employed there. Bosch’s total workforce in Thailand currently stands at 1,350 associates.

Bosch is also planning to add smart manufacturing capabilities in its plants in Vietnam. Since 2008, Bosch has been manufacturing pushbelts for continuously variable transmissions in Dong Nai, Vietnam. “We are investing some 60 million euros to convert the Dong Nai plant into a smart factory and increase capacity,” This will bring the total invested in the manufacturing site in Vietnam from 2011 to the end of 2018 to more than 320 million euros.

“Southeast Asia is prospering. We continue to focus on sustainable growth in the region,” Tyroller said. To support growth, Bosch has invested 120 million euros in Southeast Asia in 2017, a year-on-year increase of 50%. Investments on a similar scale are planned for 2018, and a large portion will go to Thailand and Vietnam.

Mobility Solutions is the largest Bosch Group business sector. In 2016, its sales came to 43.9 billion euros, or 60% of total group sales. The Mobility Solutions business sector combines the group’s expertise in three mobility domains – automation, electrification, and connectivity – and offers its customers integrated mobility solutions. Its main areas of activity are injection technology and powertrain peripherals for internal-combustion engines, diverse solutions for powertrain electrification, vehicle safety systems, driver-assistance and automated functions, technology for user-friendly infotainment as well as vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication.

The Bosch Group employs approximately 390,000 associates worldwide. The company generated sales of 73.1 billion euros in 2016. Bosch also offers innovative solutions for smart homes, smart cities, connected mobility, and connected manufacturing.

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