Digital Transformation in Manufacturing

Industry 4.0 has arrived on the factory scene, changing the working world and the demands placed on workers. Germany’s federal statistics bureau says the domestic manufacturing industry alone employs more than eight million people. However, a recent study by Bitkom and TÜV-Verband found that only just under two-thirds of these companies offer their workforces training courses relating to digitalization.

Bosch has joined forces with the Stuttgart Region Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) and other science and industry partners to develop a certification course called Fachkraft für Industrie 4.0 (IHK), or Industry 4.0 specialist, and launch a pilot program. The first nationwide IHK training course to cater to skilled workers, it brings technicians up to speed with the requirements of connected manufacturing. Technologies that enable Industry 4.0 applications figure prominently on the syllabus, as do agile working methods. “You have to understand the connected world before you can shape it. We’re preparing our associates for tomorrow’s working world, and thus setting the stage for successful Industry 4.0 adoption. The new Industry 4.0 specialist qualification will help hone Germany’s competitive edge,” says Christoph Kübel, the director of industrial relations at Bosch.

The first 12 participants from the Bosch plant at Stuttgart-Feuerbach have completed this course of vocational training. Starting in 2019, various IHK member bodies will offer courses nationwide that are open to all companies.

Industry 4.0 specialists to shape connected manufacturing

This new certification course caters to skilled workers with job experience in manufacturing and logistics. There are no formal entry requirements. The course consists of five modules totaling 104 hours. Theory and practice are given equal emphasis. Participants learn about connected business models in manufacturing: What technologies are out there? How is data transferred? How do logistics and supply chains work in a digital world? Technology is one focus topic; working methods such as scrum are another. “Technical solutions are just one side of the coin. When it comes to Industry 4.0, what really makes the difference is the workforce. Their ability to spot problems as they arise and find new, creative solutions will take center stage in tomorrow’s factories,” says Dr. Stefan Aßmann, who heads Bosch Connected Industry, the business unit tasked with delivering the company’s Industry 4.0-related software and services. As a leading Industry 4.0 user and supplier, Bosch digitalizes and connects its plants and those of its customers. Virtually all the roughly 280 Bosch plants worldwide have connected solutions in place.

Bülent Cevran, one of the course’s first graduates, has worked for Bosch at Stuttgart-Feuerbach for 20 years. An industrial mechanic by trade, his responsibility as shift supervisor is to ensure there are always enough parts in stock to keep the manufacturing lines rolling. “My job has changed a great deal in recent years. In the past, deciding what parts were needed and then allocating them was a painstaking, manual process. Today this is done fully automatically. We’ve connected our depot with the drivers who deliver supplies to us. Now they always know what, when, and where things are needed. With the benefit of this course, I can play a part in mapping out the plant’s connectivity. My first project after completing it will be to improve the connectivity with drivers and add other use cases, for example, to pick up empty shipping crates,” Cevran says, describing the changes afoot.

Bosch associates can volunteer for the training program and take advantage of various types of support offered by the company, such as time off and tuition assistance. The company also footed the bill for the pilot program. Much of this training takes place during working hours, and around 20 percent off the job.