Robert Bosch ups manufacturing tempo

Comment by Peter Roberts

In many ways Robert Bosch was a jewel in the crown of the automotive manufacturing sector which largely upped and left our shores over a year ago.

The company designed and built many of the body electronic units at the heart of modern automobile, the on board computer that can control everything from door locks, to engine control and anti-lock braking (ABS).

These systems can account for more than a third of the cost of a new car.

While many a multi national supplier pulled out, Bosch is a manufacturing company through and through, and determined to remain a significant local player.

A series of major investments at its sprawling Clayton, Melbourne campus saw the company boost production of diodes, a simple semi-conductor, to more than $60 million a year, all for export.

The company, a billion dollar business in Australia given its wide product portfolio, had a speciality in building machines and manufacturing cells to make ABS controllers and this has also been retained.

At Clayton there are 50 people producing ABS and other manufacturing machines, more than 40 in a chassis calibration group which includes automated driving, and more than 150 in automotive electronics.

One difference in multi-nationals who left and those who stayed is strong local leadership. President, Gavin Smith, a member of the Australian Manufacturing Forum, forged yet another new division from the skilled engineers who once focused on supporting local manufacturing lines.

Bosch Australia Manufacturing Solutions, unique in Bosch worldwide, taps the company’s manufacturing knowledge to design and develop special purpose assembly equipment and manufacturing solutions for other manufacturing companies.

BAMS is recognised as a model within the global company, and is expanding its business solving complex engineering and automation challenges for Australian industry.

It is interesting in an area where so much seemed so lost, a great deal more than expected has been retained.

Picture: Robert Bosch Australia

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