25 Nov 2021

Bosch has had a presence in Australia since 1907. It opened its first wholly owned subsidiary here in 1954. Today, the 1,300-person company generates sales of more than A$1.2 billion each year. This is slightly less than 1% of the Bosch Group’s global sales.

‘From that figure, you might think we are pretty insignificant,’ says Gavin Smith, Bosch Australia’s President.

‘But Australia has been recognised as a very innovative subsidiary. A number of business fields would never have come to light if it wasn’t for the work we do here. We’re small, but we punch above our weight.’

Innovating for the future

Smith notes that there is ‘no question’ around Australia’s innovation capabilities. What needs more attention is the country’s ability to commercialise those innovations.

This is where Bosch really shines.

‘We know how important innovation is,’ says Smith. ‘But we also know how to commercialise it.’

Smith outlines 6 innovation areas Bosch Australia is particularly proud of.

  • Vehicle safety: Bosch Australia is heavily involved in automated driving development with the global team.
  • Future-oriented technology in electronics: This involves making car computing safe from external hacking and developing the car computers of the future.
  • Perfectly keyless technology: This replaces standard vehicle remote keys with a smartphone device.
  • Trailer safety: Bosch Australia developed Anti Lock Braking and Stability Control for light trailers. This led the Bosch Group to make the Australian subsidiary the global centre of competence for trailer safety.
  • Smart agriculture: Bosch Australia works with and has invested heavily in local startups.
  • Manufacturing solutions: Bosch Australia is designing and building the production lines that go into manufacturing facilities. 

Investing in Australian operations

Over the last 10 years, Bosch has invested around A$100 million in its Australian operations.

Current major areas of investment include:

  • Factory automation: This allows manufacturing companies to operate with higher levels of automation, improving economics and quality.
  • Automated driving: The benefits to road safety and improved road infrastructure use as cars become increasingly automated will be game changing.
  • Vehicle electronics: Designing the computers and software features needed for all forms of future mobility.
  • Application of AIoT: When artificial intelligence (AI) meets the Internet of Things (IoT). By the end of 2020, every Bosch product category could connect to the internet. By the end of 2025, everything that Bosch makes will employ some form of AI. 

Bosch’s local startup support

Smith says working with early-stage companies is one of the favourite parts of his job.

‘The types of innovations we back have really compelling stories,’ he says.

Smith speaks to a A$13.8 million investment in The Yield, one of the world’s leading suppliers of microclimate sensing systems. The technology gives agribusinesses more certainty as to when to plant, feed, irrigate, protect, and harvest plants. This ultimately improves crop yield.

Other local startups Bosch is supporting include:

  • 3RT: produces hardwood from waste timber and plantation-grown hardwood as an alternative to logging old growth forests.
  • Bodd: produces 3D body scanners to mass customise uniforms for industry.
  • MMapt: robotically captures low-cost, high-resolution, standardised imaging for online product catalogues.

The machines that make the machines

In 2021, Bosch opened a A$17 million Manufacturing Automation Centre to house Bosch Australia Manufacturing Solutions (BAMS) and the Rexroth Drives and Controls businesses.

‘To my knowledge, we are the only factory automation company that operates its own factories,’ says Smith. ‘When a customer who wants to automate a production process comes to us, not only can we do it, we’ve often already done it in our own factories.’

A future for advanced manufacturing in Australia

Smith is more confident than ever about a bright future for the Australian manufacturing sector.

‘New investments in high-tech manufacturing could reverse the downward trend in the sector over the past few decades,’ he says. ‘They will help rebuild capabilities to address supply chain weaknesses.

‘The types of projects coming to us now gives me confidence that the manufacturing sector in Australia can thrive.’

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