Market News Bosch Rexroth wants to revolutionise automation

From Stefanie Michel

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Bosch Rexroth presents new modules for its automation platform ctrl X Automation. But also third party suppliers develop the platform further: the ctrl X World starts with 12 partners.

Steffen Winkler presents the innovations for the ctrl X Automation platform and explains that the controller covers 80 % of automation tasks.
Steffen Winkler presents the innovations for the ctrl X Automation platform and explains that the controller covers 80 % of automation tasks.
(Source: Stefanie Michel)

The open automation platform ctrl X Automation from Bosch Rexroth has been on the market for less than a year and is already being called a “game changer” by Philipp Guth, head of the Automation & Electrification Solutions business unit. It is built as a platform around the ctrl X Core controller and is based on Linux (Ubuntu). It should revolutionise professional automation and simplify engineering in the sense of “parameterising instead of programming”. As Guth explains, the platform attempts “to vertically penetrate the automation pyramid” in order to bring IT and OT together. The developer is therefore offered an automation platform that adapts to his needs and at the same time offers companies investment and future security — in terms of hardware and software.

Bosch Rexroth is one step closer to this goal, as the platform has been continuously developed. Sales Manager Steffen Winkler was now able to present numerous innovations and extensions.

Development of own I/O modules ensures connectivity

The most important development for Bosch Rexroth is the launch of its own I/O portfolio, allowing it to react flexibly to new technologies such as 5G or TSN. At Bosch Rexroth we speak of “Enabler for the Core”: The I/O modules represent a functional extension of the control platform, as they integrate sensors and actuators as well as higher-level control systems or MES. The compact hardware modules (12 mm wide, with 16 channels) can be mechanically clicked onto ctrl X Core and are then automatically recognised by the system.

The portfolio is based on Ethercat, on which real-time data processing is based. It is constantly being expanded, for example with servo drives or sensors, and is open to partners. Winkler: “The more connected an automation solution is designed, the more flexible the solutions equipped with it are in practice.”

Fastest reacting safety solution for automation

Bosch Rexroth has also improved its safety modules and presented mt ctrl X Safety, the most responsive safety solution for automation. As with the I/O modules, this hardware is also extremely compact and can be set up quickly using the intuitive engineering interface. While the drive-integrated Safe Motion was already available and is equipped with over 30 safety functions, the Safe Logic safety controller now expands the portfolio. Via ctrl X Safety Link, the Safe Motion and Safe Logic communicate 5 to 10 times faster than with safety-related protocols via classic fieldbuses. The scalable system can be integrated into almost any automation system

Third-party providers expand the range of applications

Open systems are characterised by a community and development partners. Therefore, the ctrl X World has now been published and the range of services accompanying the automation platform has been expanded. ctrl X Community has been published.

The universal openness of ctrl X Automation also allows partners or customers to create applications and publish them on the platform. For Bosch Rexroth, such partnerships had been a basic idea, as Winkler reports: “As an automation provider, you can no longer manage this alone — we don't want to either. That's why you need the partners and the openness for co-creation.” So far, 12 such third party suppliers from different disciplines are officially represented on ctrl X World, more from the software and hardware sector will follow soon.

Online the service offer has also been expanded. Users can now find help, documentation and forums for knowledge exchange via the X Community. The ctrl X Device Portal can now be used to centrally manage all controllers, perform backups or install updates.

So far, 200 customers already use the automation platform. As Winkler reports, the market launch at the end of 2019 focused on machine and factory automation, but now other sectors are showing great interest, including logistics, building automation and the maker scene. Guth is certain that the platform will address the needs of the developer in all these sectors: He is moving from programmer to designer and wants to reach his goal as quickly and flexibly as possible.

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