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Bosch Anderson Facility Produces 200 Millionth Oxygen Sensor

As Earth Day 2008 is celebrated globally in a multitude of ways, the associates at the Robert Bosch LLC plant here are proudly celebrating the production of 200 million oxygen sensors at the site since first manufacturing the product in 1988.

The oxygen sensor, which was first developed by Bosch more than 30 years ago, is one example of the many Bosch products that reflect the company’s slogan of Invented for Life. Bosch oxygen sensors, which are supplied to virtually every automaker in the world, are an integral part of the engine management system and allow achievement of strict emission requirements and increasing fuel economy standards, while not sacrificing powertrain performance.

“The employees at this site are proud that a high-quality product they make plays a key role in reducing vehicle emissions,” explains Mike Mansuetti, vice president of manufacturing for the site, Robert Bosch LLC.

To put the magnitude of 200 million oxygen sensors in perspective, if placed end to end, they would extend approximately 10,000 miles, the distance from New York City to Sydney, Australia.

How the sensor works

The oxygen sensor sends a signal to the engine computer based on the amount of oxygen in the exhaust gas. This signal is used by the engine electronic control unit (ECU) to fine-tune the fuel and air mixture to the optimum level for maximum catalyst efficiency and longevity.

The plant produces two main types of oxygen sensors: Thimble Type and the Planar Type. In 1976, Bosch led the industry and was the first to produce the oxygen sensor.

As exhaust-gas legislation has become more exacting, there has been an increased demand for these sensors and today, it is a standard feature on all new vehicles.

The Bosch Premium Thimble Type Oxygen Sensor, which has been produced in the plant since 1988, utilizes an electrical heating element inside the thimble-shaped end to bring the sensor up to operating temperature in less than a minute.

Due to increasing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements for lower exhaust emissions, Bosch developed the revolutionary Planar Sensor. The Planar Sensor “lights off,” or reaches operating temperature, in approximately 10 to 12 seconds. That is more than two times faster than a conventional Thimble Type Oxygen Sensor. Manufactured in Anderson since 1999, this quicker light-off time reduces emissions by more than 50 percent during the cold start phase, when harmful emissions are highest.

The newest oxygen sensor design, which is part of the planar sensor family, is the Wideband Oxygen Sensor. Manufactured at the Anderson site since 2003, it offers the increased accuracy, which will further help meet the latest emissions requirements. Unlike all the other types of oxygen sensors, the Wideband Sensor can actually measure the air/fuel ratio from 11:1 (excess fuel condition) all the way to straight air (no fuel). This improved measurement allows the engine control system to measure the actual air/fuel ratio and eliminates the switching between lean and rich ratio associated with a traditional type of oxygen sensor. These sensors use a planar zirconia ceramic element; so they heat up much faster than other types of sensors, thereby reducing cold start emissions. Wideband sensors are used with the recently introduced gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines, which enable increased fuel efficiency without sacrificing engine performance – a solution that helps automakers achieve recent Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) targets.

Community celebrates success

In addition to oxygen sensors, the 470,000-square-ft. plant produces a variety of engine management components, including electronic throttle bodies, integrated air fuel modules, and transmission control modules.

According to Joerg Mimmel, vice president, commercial activity for the site, since 2007, Bosch has invested more than $520 million in the site.

“Bosch associates understand the importance of manufacturing a quality product for our customers,” Mimmel said. “Our customers expect a quality product that is delivered on time and this team has consistently delivered on its commitment.”

Lee Luff, president of the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce, commended Bosch for achieving this milestone and for their continued commitment to the community, “The success of the Bosch Anderson plant is a microcosm of our community and reflects the success in Anderson as a whole. We value their leadership in our business community and applaud the Bosch Anderson plant for reaching this milestone.”

The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. In the areas of automotive and industrial technology, consumer goods, and building technology, some 272,000 associates generated sales of over 46 billion euros (over $63 billion) in fiscal 2007. The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 300 subsidiary and regional companies in over 50 countries. This worldwide development, manufacturing, and sales network is the foundation for further growth. Bosch spends more than three billion euros each year for research and development, and in 2006 applied for over 3,000 patents worldwide. The company was set up in Stuttgart in 1886 by Robert Bosch (1861-1942) as “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering.”

In North America, the Bosch Group manufactures and markets automotive original equipment and aftermarket products, industrial automation and mobile products, power tools and accessories, security technology, thermo-technology, packaging equipment and household appliances. Bosch employs approximately 25,000 associates in more than 80 locations throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico, with reported sales of $9.5 billion in fiscal 2007. For more information on the company, visit .

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