The Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology (WGCIT) was established to identify industry concerns and accelerate the production of technology to address these concerns. The Bosch Group designs smart agriculture products to help growers lower their costs and increase productivity.
The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 400,000 associates worldwide. In 2019, the company generated sales of 77.7 billion euros.
As a leading Internet of Things (IoT) company, Bosch offers innovative solutions for smart homes, smart cities, connected mobility, and connected industry. It uses its expertise in sensor technology, software, and services, as well as its own IoT cloud, to offer its customers connected, cross-domain solutions from a single source. The Bosch Group’s strategic objective is to create solutions for a connected life and to improve the quality of life worldwide with products and services that are innovative and spark enthusiasm. In short, the company builds technology that is “Invented for Life.”
The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 440 subsidiaries and regional companies in 60 countries. Including sales and service partners, Bosch’s global manufacturing, engineering, and sales network cover nearly every country in the world. The basis for the company’s future growth is its innovative strength. At 126 locations across the globe, Bosch employs 72,600 associates in research and development.
Having established a regional presence in 1906 in North America, the firm employs 34,600 associates in more than 100 locations, as of the end of 2019. In 2019, Bosch generated consolidated sales of $14.4 billion in the region.
Recently, Western Grower & Shipper spoke to the company about its innovative operations.
WG&S: Is there a story behind the creation of this company?
In 1886, Robert Bosch founded the “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering” in Stuttgart, which marked the birth of today’s globally operating company. Right from the start, it was characterized by innovative strength and social commitment.
Also, the following words from Robert Bosch reveal his affinity with agriculture, which is hardly surprising considering his parents ran an inn with livestock farming and a brewery near Ulm: “Agriculture in itself is one of the most interesting lines of business there is. It is more varied than virtually any other field, for it has to do with zoology, botany, geology, chemistry, and meteorology in their widest sense.”
WG&S: Can you explain what your technologies are? What problems are they solving?
Bosch products are built with a purpose; to enhance the quality of life through innovative technological solutions. Operating across four business sectors—Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology—Bosch is uniquely positioned to offer customers a multitude of value-add, cross-sector solutions across a diversity of industry applications. In addition to providing outstanding products, Bosch utilizes expertise in sensor technology, systems integration, software, and services, as well as its own IoT cloud, to offer each customer connected, cross-domain solutions from a single source. The core of Bosch’s offering is innovative solutions that facilitate new mobility offerings. Whether for private or commercial vehicles, multimodal transportation services, fleet management, or smart transport infrastructure, Bosch brings together vehicle technology, the data cloud, and services to offer complete mobility solutions.
WG&S: While Bosch works with numerous industries, how does the technology you created benefit the agriculture industry?
Bosch has domain expertise in a wide range of industries and manufacturing processes. From this basis, several of our products and services are directly applicable to agriculture, such as supply chain solutions, tracking and tracing devices, and I4.0 automation and consulting.
As part of our mobility business, Bosch has a dedicated organization for commercial vehicle and off-road business with a product portfolio focused on the needs of our OEM (original equipment manufacturer) customers in the agricultural industry.
In this context, Bosch has launched the innovative Smart Agriculture initiative NEVONEX, an open and neutral ecosystem for smart, digital agriculture. NEVONEX has the objective of making agricultural equipment intelligent and simplifying operating processes. Bosch enables agriculture players to develop, deploy, and use integrated digital services fast, easy, and direct via the machine into the field (so-called FEATURES). In a nutshell, it is a manufacturer-independent, open digital ecosystem that enables the use of digital services directly on agricultural machinery. Bosch will provide the technical infrastructure and orchestrate the ecosystem.
Active partners that are already on board include leading agricultural chemical and seed companies such as Syngenta and Xarvio; technology providers such as Topcon and Pessl Instruments; agricultural (implement) OEMs such as Amazone, Lemken, and Rauch; and others. Our partners offer high-quality digital services (FEATURES), interfaces to their agricultural machinery, compatible sensors, the NEVONEX-enabled control unit and installation services. FEATURES allow partners to bring their agronomic expertise to the field via digital services to make real-time adjustments, get valuable insights, and make recommendations for growers. Thanks to the reliable, end-to-end implementation through all the work steps, growers benefit from higher yields, optimized operating processes and less use of seed, fertilizer and crop protection materials, while at the same time protecting the environment.
In recent years, Bosch has invested significantly into gaining an understanding of the use of its expertise in sensors and IoT for possible applications in crop disease prediction, irrigation solutions, and field monitoring applications.
WG&S: Can you provide insight on your time as a sponsor for the WGCIT? What has your experience been?
Being a Sponsor for the WGCIT has been a great experience so far. We have engaged with various residents, growers, sponsors, and other companies and were very impressed by the enthusiasm and openness of everyone to overcome the significant challenges around water and labor supply, crop protection, and food safety. The support we received from the WGCIT team has been great, and their help connecting us with the industry has been very valuable.
WG&S: What have been the benefits of being a WGCIT sponsor for Bosch?
For Bosch, a technology company rooted in the Mobility sector, it is paramount to gain a deep understanding of grower needs in order to help solving some of the key challenges of this industry by applying our technology. Receiving direct insights and feedback by building relationships and having countless conversations with growers and other industry leaders that are growing fresh produce in California, Arizona, and Colorado has been extremely helpful. We also benefit from industry events such as the AgTechX series, the Future Leader initiative, and deal flows such as the Grower Trial Network. Access to innovative startups and growers’ response to their technologies is of great benefit to Bosch.
WG&S: What do you believe to be the benefit of your sponsorship to the residents of the Center?
We participate in strategic initiatives where we can contribute our experience as a major tech player. Especially in efforts surrounding technology push, adaptions, and problem-solving, Bosch has been able to provide an understanding of tech companies’ business models. In essence, a better understanding of tech business models results in faster tech creation for Ag. Additionally, we provide direct access to Bosch and its relevant business units and can connect residents of the Center with pertinent tech companies, as Bosch is deeply embedded in the tech ecosystem. If we see something because of our relationship with WG, we can route it to the right place. And of course, the Bosch brand also benefits WG and its residents, which is one of the most reliable and trusted brand names in the world.
WG&S: Are there any residents in particular that you are working more closely with?
Bosch has had multiple conversations around partnerships and PoCs with several current and former WGCIT residents. Our organization collaborates with WGCIT residents in strategic initiatives such as the Automation Initiative.
WG&S: Any ideas on the future of Bosch's relationship with Western Growers, the WGCIT, and the agriculture industry?
We are looking forward to bringing our expertise and technologies to the agriculture industry by providing solutions and innovations—for growers and OEMs.
With NEVONEX, in collaboration with our partners, we aim to provide an open, smart end-to-end infrastructure that makes growers’ equipment intelligent, simplifies their processes and ensures seamless use of a broad array of expert knowledge. The focus is always the grower.
Bosch believes in the value of partnerships and co-creation and is always eager to work with partners in the agricultural sector—not only through participating in strategic initiatives but also through hands-on in-field testing. Our relationship with Western Growers and the WGCIT has been fantastic, and we would love to continue working towards bringing innovations to the market and making agriculture sustainable.
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