Dattatri Salgame says...‘Digital initiatives by design are prone to failure’


Dattatri Salgame, Business Head, Digital Business, Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions, in conversation with Industrial Automation on the sidelines of Beyond Mobility 2.0 event where Bosch showcased its latest connected industry solutions.


  • Client

    Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions Ltd

  • Services

    To showcase its latest connected industry solutions.

  • Technologies

    Industrial Automation

  • Dates




What is the Digital Transformation at Bosch all about? Is this a recent initiative?

Bosch Digital as a business unit has two mandates – transforming Bosch to earn digital dollars as well as to save digital dollars, and do the same thing for external customers by offering them this expertise. The initiative is recent, but it is based on the organic or tribal experience of Bosch over the last 130 plus years and acquired capabilities – the sensing capability, the software capability – and our understanding of the manufacturing process. What we were earlier doing in pockets, at different places, is now brought together in this business unit on the IoT platform, with sensors, software and services.


Is this going to be yet another of those platforms many automation companies are offering?

We do not believe in a monolithic platform where you are either in or out. We do not believe in that approach, as we work with several partners. So if I have partner solutions which fill certain gaps in my own offering, they can co-exist on our platform, and their solutions can be part of our offering. So though we use the word platform, we do not believe that just because you use it, you have to remain exclusively with us. Clients are often worried if they dig their heels on a certain platform, they get stuck there. This is a big challenge industry is facing, what I call the ‘platform paralysis’. So they keep waiting for a winner to emerge among the various platforms to play it safe. But now in the OT world, that standardisation is not happening, because you cannot wait, it affects the business. Here you are talking about core KPIs – increasing the OE of a machine by 5% has huge ramifications.


Do you see a lot of procrastination at the OT level?

Yes, the procrastination is because of lack of choices. The monolithic platforms come with huge cost of customisation and ownership. Our offering goes more in an iterative fashion, is more experimental, unlike say buy a platform, implement it and be done. Here you pick use cases, say one machine, one assembly line and when you have got the right KPIs, you implement it in more machines, more assembly lines, and then take it across plants. That is how it progresses. Now at what point do you dig your heels on a large platform? That is the dilemma. Comparatively our approach is very modular, and the cost of the experiment – I still call it an experiment – is not very high.


But there are challenges in this approach too?

The biggest challenge for a digital initiative is how to manage the vulnerabilities, because it is prone to failure. Digital initiatives by design are prone to failure. It could be due to lack of proven skills, lack of precedence or lack of a proven model. People get tentative, see these vulnerabilities and back off, because they do not want to face a situation where they invest a huge sum of money and it does not work. It kills the whole initiative. They would rather spend a smaller amount and see how it works. That’s where we come in, the difference we bring to the table.


Are all these solutions you offer are proven solutions implemented at Bosch?

Yes, not only implemented at Bosch but we are also ready for any challenges thrown at us! In fact I had this client who challenged me saying I will give you 50 assets – chillers, boilers, compressors, motors and many more – and show me you are connected. I said yes, and showed it to him live as we have some 800 assets thus connected on our platform. All these exist somewhere in our plants – 450 subsidiaries worldwide, 18 manufacturing plants in India – we would find it somewhere and also we would have done it. The model is about demonstrating this so that they get convinced and are not worried about failure – it is a failure proof model built around solving small issues. You start small, and scale it up. Here there is no difference between an SME and a large company, because digital offers a level playing field – the solutions are the same, only the scale is different.


You have talked about the Digital Advisory Services, the Nexeed Platform and Bosch Phantom. What is the difference between these?  

Digital Advisory Services or what we call #JumpStartDigital, is a consulting service with a lot of built-in accelerators into it, so people do not have to redo the same thing. It is about how to run a digital transformation programme in a company. It will help train people in this field – machine training programmes, design thinking experiences, etc. It is a ‘Digital Transformation Office’ and does the work of a CDO for a company that cannot afford to hire one. 


The Nexeed is a full blown Industry 4.0 platform on which a variety of solutions of Source – Make – Deliver reside for continuous optimisation from procurement (source) through production (make) to the end customer (deliver). This includes tools like predictive maintenance, cockpit charts, traceability and tracking solutions, manufacturing execution, maintenance support, autonomous forklifts, intralogistics – all these get connected on this platform. Typically Nexeed is good for larger enterprises that have a bigger programme for Industry 4.0, companies that have an international production network, plants at multiple locations with a substantial base of manufacturing.


The Bosch Phantom is designed exclusively for SMEs. It is a small box the size of an iPad or even smaller as we move forward. This box gets connected to a machine and tracks the electrical signals of the machine, gathers data non intrusively, and transmits this to the cloud where there are AI algorithms which understand from the signals what is the machine, etc., after a period of learning of say 8-10 days. Then we provide a classical Industry 4.0 matrix to the SME owner or the shop floor in-charge on their smartphone, where the status of the machine is available. Now there is transparency of the process and this is just a beginning. Next he can connect with his principals or the customers, seamlessly. Now is this Industry 4.0? Maybe not. But it is certainly the beginning. So this is an option to begin the transformation at a very low cost – comparable to say what you get with Netflix – pay for what you want.


Are these solutions available now, especially the Bosch Phantom?

Yes we have rolled these out recently. Our first target is to get our own suppliers on board first and also others. For example, I was at Coimbatore talking to the pump manufacturers’ association and they are wondering how to implement Industry 4.0 in their business. These are companies that do not have CIOs or large budgets for implementation of digital initiatives and the Phantom is the right solution for them. This is an effective way to get more and more SMEs on board the digital bandwagon.