Speaker Interview: Rodney Rusk, Industry 4.0 Business Leader, Bosch Rexroth Corporation

Hi Rodney, could you please tell us a little bit more about your role as Industry 4.0 Rodney RuskBusiness Leader at Bosch Rexroth?  

As the i4.0 Business Leader I oversee our team of Connected Industry Consultants that help to guide our clients, both internal and external, on their i4.0 transformation journey. Through our team, we provide real world expert guidance that draws on the full depth of the Bosch Group as both a leader in i4.0 products & solutions; and as a leader of implementing such solutions as one of the world’s largest manufacturers.


You will participate in the Smart Manufacturing, Rapid Fabrication and Scalable Designs Tech Talks on Tuesday May 19. Let’s look back in time a little bit – how well have new technologies been integrated in space manufacturing facilities, compared to other industries, in the last five years?  

Over the last five years we have seen in increased consumption of new connected technologies and solutions. We have also seen the realization that the i4.0 transformation starts by ensuring a solid foundation based on lean principles, methodology and embracing an empowered agile culture. Given the vast differences in production processes that can be found in space manufacturing, automotive, electronics and high-speed production goods, it is very difficult to compare the journeys. Instead, we prefer to look at the cultural changes, and how the improvements relate to the relevant efficiencies and how technologies adopted have provided a real business value, whether in quality, cost controls or through-put.  

In these areas, the culture changes were much slower five years ago, but we are seeing a much higher-level scrutiny and consideration on how the best practices from the other industry segments that adopted earlier, such as automotive, can be adopted into this segment. As well as the realization that these other industries that have so excelled in mass production can be applied to customized or less-mass produced goods. Especially in the areas of error proofing, worker guidance and worker training.


Where do you see opportunities for new, other industry 4.0 related technologies, to provide significant reduction in production times and manufacturing / operational management of spacecraft?   

Because the unique safety and confidentiality issues faced by this industry, I believe that those technologies that allow for faster prototyping (both product and manufacturing), the use of virtual and AI assisted tools to guide, train or re-train workers, and the use of quality control systems to insure production quality will remain at the forefront.   

In the on-board technologies I also believe that the adoption of more diagnostic sensors with improved feedback loops into collaborative data lakes will provide more data to improve future designs. Such as in the area of on-board machine mechanical health checks and predictive failure detection.


What will the Factory of the Future look like in the space industry, where there will be many standardized components, as well as custom-built parts?    

The factory of the future for space will be an adaptable, build on demand production environment that leverages as many open, scalable and flexible solutions as possible.   These same solutions will marry the product development process, to the manufacturing process, to the continuous improvement process.   This will include increased 3D production of components, as new material solutions continue to be realized and more integrated sensor technologies onto/into the components being manufactured.

We will also see a rise in AI assisted assembly processes, diagnostic process during the preventative and predicted maintenance cycles; as well as AI and virtual assistance on-demand for troubleshooting and problem resolutions.


In terms of industry news, what development, announcement or otherwise has stood out most to you in the past year and why?  

One of the items that still stands out in my mind is the speed with which a video facial recognition system can not only identify where someone is looking but can predict emotional state and other cues that are too subtle for most human sensors to knowingly recognize.    As these types of AI algorithms continue to evolve, their use in training and re-tasking will continue allowing for faster interfaces with other automated systems.


If you could have one historical figure over to dinner, who would it be and why?      

From an all-around fascination perspective, I would truly enjoy an opportunity to talk with the true Renaissance Man himself, Leonardo Da Vinci. His multi-layered mind, his vivid imagination and his willingness to break the cultural norms of his time that allowed him to be such a genius would be simply fascinating. Imagine sitting down with someone, who at least ideally in my mind, married mechanical science, biological science, numerous forms of art and the childhood imagination to come up with so many advances and lasting contributions to our history?  This would be a true opportunity to remind us that no idea and no concept is really out of reach and that anyone can really do anything.

Hear Rodney speak at Space Tech Conference (19-20 May, 2020, Long Beach, CA). View the agenda and register for free here.