Interview with Mircea Barbu, BSH Hausgeräte GmbH

Mircea Barbu heads the innovation department within GED (Global Electronics and Drives) of BSH Hausgeräte GmbH (BSH Home Appliances) in Regensburg.

Founded in 1967, BSH Hausgeräte GmbH is now one of the world’s leading companies in the industrial sector and the largest home appliance manufacturer in Europe. BSH produces the full range of modern household appliances in 40 factories around the world. Due to the advancing digitization, the demands on domestic appliances are increasing. In order to be able to adapt to constantly changing consumer needs, BSH is developing from a home appliance manufacturer to a company that will also offer personalized digital functions, services and content. BSH aims to improve the quality of life for people around the world with its outstanding brands, high-quality products and first-class solutions.

I head the innovation department within GED (Global Electronics and Drives), in which we are responsible for electronics and motors, at BSH Hausgeräte GmbH in Regensburg.
I support GED in developing a strategy based on consumer needs and in building up skills that BSH will need in the future in order to remain competitive. We rely on innovation in co-creation, in which we access external partners in order to integrate new technologies in our devices and then quickly bring them to market.
At BSH, we deal every day with questions like: What will the home appliances of the future look like? Which innovative technology can be integrated into a household appliance to improve the consumer’s quality of life? What requirements do different consumer segments have for which device where in the world?

In doing so we are developing from a pure hardware company to a hardware+ company, i.e. we use AI to enrich devices with personalized digital functions, services and content. For example, dishwashers that learn that energy efficiency and water consumption are important to the consumer and thus adapt their washing process. Ovens that learn that I want my lasagna extra crispy and a Home Connect app that offers me exactly the content that inspires me (from my favorite recipe to the lighting mood) – for a futuristic experience in the kitchen. According to our principle #LikeABosch!

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Here at the innovation department for electronic and motor systems, I support my colleagues in developing ideas and expanding them along our internal innovation process. One focus here is on predictive and preventive maintenance. To do this, we develop how a coffee machine learns what the lime content of the water used means for the cleaning rhythm of the coffee machine.
At our location in Regensburg, we provide a large number of students with insights into the areas of roadmapping & strategy management, systems engineering and innovation, hardware and software development, human-machine interface (HMI), verification & simulation, quality management, controlling, organization and processes, supply chain management and purchase in the form of dual studies, theses, working students and internships. We are currently also conducting a study with the Chair of Information Linguistics, in which we are having student test subjects, who try one of our prototypes.

We rely on an intensive cooperation and also like to use the current situation to hold digital Industry Talks/Practice Lectures. For us, the open innovation approach means increased innovation value.
Today, BSH values ​​student input more than ever before. The VUCA world requires quick adaptation and creative ideas. We want to show the students what an attractive employer BSH is and increase our level of awareness in the region. As tomorrow’s customers, we very much appreciate the students’ insights.
Just as software programming was revolutionary in the past, it is artificial intelligence today. It is already an everyday, perhaps still inconspicuous companion. AI is developing exponentially, which makes dealing with it indispensable.
The topic of AI covers the entire range of our home appliances in research. For example, BSH has developed a prototype with AI in cooperation with the University of Rosenheim and the Fraunhofer Institute. Since this is not yet on the market, we cannot go into detail here.
Personally, I got to know AI better not before my professional career, especially during various projects. I studied electrical engineering and information technology.
I think it is exciting how the use of AI can support everyday life so individually, make it more convenient and easier. This can mean that household appliances – as in the examples above – learn the individual preferences of consumers, adapt to the tastes and preferences of each consumer and ultimately let them become as lazy as possible.
We cooperate with many external partners, who unfortunately we cannot name all here, as the projects are in prototype development.

We are also part of the AI ​​initiative of the city of Regensburg AIR (Applied Artificial Intelligence in Regensburg). Together with other representatives of the economy, we support the OTH Regensburg with their Regensburg Center for Artificial Intelligence.
A scientifically grounded training is ideal, in which one learns to implement the theoretical approaches as profitably as possible in practice, which serves the consumer and shows new opportunities for companies.
This is the first time I’m reading about this project and I think the link between science and economy is important and worth supporting. At the moment we are not making any contribution to this project.

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