Lehigh Valley

Bosch Rexroth celebrates 50 years in the Lehigh Valley

VIDEO: Bosch and Rexroth celebrates...

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Bosch Rexroth is celebrating its 50th anniversary of operations in the United States.

Their presence in America began right here in the Lehigh Valley and the company's business model embraces technology.   

"We are really driving new technology," said Manfred Hahn, the Technical Plant Manager of Bosch Rexroth in Bethlehem. "If you're just as good as your competition, you're never gonna be different, right?"

Bosch Rexroth calls itself "The Drive and Control Company".

They're German and operate worldwide, making things like hydraulic systems and valves, and specializing in making machines move. 

The company's story in the Lehigh Valley actually begins 50 years ago in Easton.

They were just "Rexroth" then, when they expanded to America, moving into a former tobacco warehouse.

Things grew fast over the next few decades.

In 2001, Bosch bought the company, and that's when Bosch Rexroth was formed.

Today, their factory in Bethlehem is very cutting edge; they call it a "smart factory", where they use the same kind of technology they make for others.

"It is not automation. It is making our factory smarter," said Hahn.

Two machines in the plant nicknamed "Tom and Jerry" represent the conundrum of technology.

They operate autonomously, moving things around the plant.

Tom and Jerry, like other machines in the factory, make the company more efficient and life easier for workers.

"The technology is here to help, guide and assist. It's not to replace operators by any means," said Erik Latanision, Group Leader of Manufacturing Engineering for Bosch Rexroth.

That said, the fact remains that these machines do jobs that people normally would.

Bosch Rexroth has indeed cut workers recently, but they attribute the downsizing to an economic contraction in the industry, not to automation.

The company argues that technology lets people take on bigger challenges.

"What's interesting about this system is really the technology integration," said Latanision.

And, the company says, efficiency will mean growth, which would ultimately mean more jobs, and a longer future in the Valley.

"We are very proud that we celebrate 50 years here in the Lehigh Valley," said Hahn.

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