From open automation platform to industrial ecosystem
Steffen Winkler, CSO Business Unit Automation & Electrification Solutions, Bosch Rexroth AG
“At the end of 2019, we launched an alternative concept to the previous, proprietary automation systems on the market in the form of ctrlX AUTOMATION. This was all based on the idea that the industry will only be able to successfully deal with increasingly complex tasks if it has solutions that are open and straightforward and can be easily and flexibly implemented. What’s more, the new generation of engineers and software developers wants to use technologies and tools that have also long since been considered the standard outside of the industry.
More than 300 companies have now implemented ctrlX AUTOMATION in their applications. The system’s radical degree of openness is its most widely appreciated feature. The support of virtually all popular programming languages and the corresponding engineering tools enable automation solutions to be developed without any ties to provider-specific or proprietary systems. ctrlX AUTOMATION also includes a range of ready prepared standard components, e.g. for PLC, motion, safety, communication or a secure connection to IT systems. Thanks to the app-based architecture, these can be flexibly combined with users’ own software components and/or solutions from third-party providers.
In 2021, we took another important step in the short history of ctrlX AUTOMATION. Since the very start of the development process, it has been obvious to us that the automation solutions of the future will be developed through co-creation. With the partner network ctrlX World, this year we successfully took the first step from open automation platform to industrial ecosystem. The amount of domain know-how required these days is so extensive that a single company cannot cover it alone. We are noticing a real willingness to cooperate in all directions. Suppliers, partners and customers are working together and using their respective strengths and components to create optimum overall solutions. The partial solutions become perfectly integrated with each other thanks to standardized interfaces.
The partner network continues to grow, expanding the ecosystem with hardware and, in particular, more and more new apps which can be downloaded from the ctrlX Store. And the positive feedback from customers all around the world and the various different awards received, such as the German Innovation Prize (“Der deutsche Innovationspreis”), are proof that we are definitely on the right track. We feel spurred on to further develop the platform with an even greater sense of dynamism in order to tackle many other challenges which users across all sectors are either already facing now or will face in the future.
This positive development means that as a next step Bosch Rexroth is investing EUR 25 million at the Lohr site on expanding logistics and electronics production in order to continue to guarantee a very high level of flexibility and quality for our customers. This includes, for example, additional cutting-edge production technology for electronic components and the tripling of our storage and logistics capacity. Further investments are set to follow."