In his presentation, Reitmeier showed the VE 2/AS-I, a pallet stop gate that might be found on a line dedicated to assembly, materials handling, or packaging. It consists of a single part. Its predecessor, the VE 2, consisted of 10 parts, including 3 inductive proximity switches, sensor brackets, sensor cables, valves and accessories, an AS-i bus interface, mounting plate and accessories, pneumatic installation materials, and label plates. By integrating all these functional parts into a single unit, Bosch Rexroth is now able to offer customers a single ordering number instead of 10. Installation is faster, too, when only one part is involved. Cost is about the same, Reitmeier told his audience, but simplicity gained is substantial.
Bosch Rexroth is hardly alone in taking advantage of this trend toward functional integration. Other technology providers and machinery makers serving the packaging space are doing the same. Reitmeier just happened to provide one of the nicest examples of a trend in action that this particular editor has seen lately.