Sales in 2005 were about 4.6 billions Euros, up about 8 percent from the previous year. Sales in the United States were up 23 percent, though, leading the company’s growth, and sales in Asia increased 18 percent. Supporting the company’s growth efforts, especially in the semiconductor industry, is a technical competency center that was established in the Silicon Valley of California. Reiner Leipold-Buettner, member of the executive committee responsible for engineering and manufacturing, noted that Bosch Rexroth invested 193 million Euros in research and development in 2005—4.2 percent of sales.
With the integration of Rexroth into Bosch came the spread of the “Bosch Production System.” This manufacturing strategy, based on the Toyota Production System, is transforming Robert Bosch automotive component plants while filtering into Bosch Rexroth plants—both for its own manufacturing and for product development of components in support of it. In two plant tours, editors saw examples of Lean thinking with and-on boards, material flow, one-piece processing and the like.
A recent Bosch development is called “desktop factory.” A tour of the Robert Bosch Waiblingen plant revealed the beginnings of the low-cost, intelligent automation program using the desktop factory, which involves the location of components within an area about the size of a small desktop—perhaps the size of two sheets of A4 paper. The goals include reduction of the space required to manufacture products, along with reductions of labor, work-in-process, energy consumption and other costs.