Ancient lathe moves into 21st Century
In a remarkable feat, Bosch engineers have converted a 129-year-old treadle-operated cast iron lathe to work in 21st Century conditions, using sensors, software, and Bosch’s new IoT (Internet of Things) compatible industrial controls.
The lathe is a historical gem, and was used by Bosch’s founder Robert Bosch to manufacture parts for the magneto ignition device − the very product that helped the company to achieve its breakthrough at the end of the 19th Century.
Speaking in Stuttgart, Dr. Werner Struth, who is the Bosch management board member responsible for industrial technology and manufacturing coordination, said: “This is the only construction of its kind in the world. It shows that even ancient machines can be connected quickly and easily with the IoT gateway.”
As a result, he explained, Bosch is “opening up the benefits of connected industry to operators of older machines as well.”
In explaining the breakthrough, engineers refer to the four stages of the industrial revolution.
Industry 1.0, to which the original lathe belongs, was Mechanisation. Industry 2.0 was Mass Production. Industry 3.0 was Automation, and Industry 4.0, in which we find ourselves today, is Connectivity.
“Many of the machines used in skilled trades or manufacturing are still not connected to Industry 4.0. Among other things, they lack sensors, software, and connections to companies’ IT systems – which means that they do not fulfil the essential prerequisites for connected industry,” says Dr Struth.
“In Germany alone, the number of such machines runs into tens of millions. And globally, the market for retrofit solutions like the Bosch IoT gateway is worth billions.”
He said that industry needs connected machines if it is to be successful over the long term. That is exactly what the IoT gateway ensures − quickly and flexibly.
With this gateway, Bosch shows how operators of older manufacturing systems can connect their machines, and thus monitor them in real time and optimise them.
This enables things such as predictive maintenance, reducing downtime while increasing productivity.
In a next step, Bosch will retrofit 22 of its test facilities and then a number of other machines.
Apprentices use the modified lathe