Staying True to its Roots
U.S.-based Rittal Corp. proud of its German-engineered bloodlines
It’s not just about the cars.
Though the default image upon pondering a German-engineered product might be a speeding Porsche or a luxurious BMW, there’s a company based in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, Ill. that’s not at all shy about touting its own strong connection to the European home of manufacturing excellence.
In fact, the Rittal Corporation – a U.S.-headquartered subsidiary of Rittal GmbH & Co. KG in the central German town of Herborn – labels old country roots as one of the main differentiators between it and the competition among manufacturers of industrial and IT enclosures, racks and accessories.
“German-based companies are acclaimed for producing highly engineered solutions,” said Billy Benson, Rittal’s U.S.-based senior vice president of operations.“And we are no different.We are driven to offer products that are innovative and of high quality, and also provide superiorcustomer service, delivery, and support.”
Rittal began its U.S. operations in 1982 in Springfield, Ohio, and subsequently moved its manufacturing operation to nearby Urbana. Its corporate headquarters relocated to Schaumburg in 2013.
Globally, the company boasts 64 locations, 11 production facilities and 10,000 employees.
Urbana remains the state-of-the-art manufacturing hub of the domestic organization, which also has distribution centers in Houston, Atlanta and Sparks, Nev., as well as a sales office in Irvine, Calif.The Urbana manufacturing center of excellence is home to a 105-acre campus with more than 500,000 square feet of production and storage space that allows the company to service the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Latin America.
About 700 combined employees are on staff across those facilities, with about 500 working in Urbana.
Rittal produces products that are targeted to industrial and information technology customers. Its flagship products are metallic enclosures that serve to protect and also have the capability to coolinternal electrical systems and components.Many of the products sold by Rittal can be seen on the factory floor and in data centers, and offer protection for the electronics that reside within the enclosures.
This broad industrial customer base includes oil/gas, automotiveand food and beverage industries.
Some clients have special applications that call for Rittal to produce customized work to meet their needs, but Benson said the company also produces “a large amount” of standard business via thousands of products that are kept in stock on a regular basis.Those items run the gamut from metal enclosures and IT racks for servers to climate-control products that are paired with a rack or an enclosure to help a customer’s equipment stay properly maintained in harsh environments.
Other Rittal subsidiaries are strategically placed worldwide, which allows them to provide product on a regional basis. The U.S. location is responsible for maintaining the supply for customers across North America and into Latin America, where Rittal has warehousing and small modification capabilities.
“We’re across many different industries and many different manufacturing sectors,” Benson said.
“That diversity enables us to more appropriately optimize our facilities. It allows us to get exposure to new technology and to enhance our internal processes.Our global Rittal design strategy also provides synergies for our local product offering.”
Rittal’s most recent investments in the Urbana facility have been made to develop additional automation capabilities, which will enable it to improve its reproducibility and repeatability and, Benson said, “will ultimately continue to propel our strong quality image that we have in the marketplace.”
The company has also embraced the Industry 4.0 concept – also known as the fourth industrial revolution – that was presented to the German government at a 2012 trade show in Hannover, and touts the creationof intelligent factories that are highly flexible with resource-efficient machines and processes that integrate manufacturing, customers and suppliers.
Some experts anticipate Industry 4.0 could be a workplace reality in 10 to 20 years, and Rittal is already on the forefront of the movement. Two of Rittal’s sister companies, ePlan, an electrical-design software company; and Kiesling, which provides metal enclosure value-added machining products, are teamed with Rittal and provide distinct advantages as Industry 4.0evolves and ensures Rittal is primed to be a leading player.
“This is the next big wave that Rittal as a global organization is working on,” Benson said. “We’re partnering with some of our key customers to bring this into the forefront and turn it into a big evolution for the industry.”
Hand in hand with the technological/process advances is a commitment to sustainability.
Though it’s not subject to provisions of the European Union’s RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) and WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) directives due to the nature of products it manufactures, Rittal is voluntarily adhering to the guidelines listed as demonstration of a commitment to produce superior products while protecting both customers and the environment.
“I want us to be a good corporate citizen from a sustainability standpoint,” Benson said. “We follow good and sustainable environmental processes in all aspects of the business because it’s important to us, not just because we’re required to by legislation.”
It makes a similar investment in its people, who are a key element to many of the 10 corporate principles on which the parent company bases its everyday business activities.
Among those fundamentals are staff-wide goal-focused motivation, encouragement and sponsorship of training and advanced education, perpetual maintenance of inspiration and creativity and a strategic outlook based jointly on competition-focused quality and cooperative problem solving.
“It’s always good to recognize our employees,” Benson said. “We place a high value on our employees and it’s obvious that they’re criticalto our accomplishments.”
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Rittal Corporation
WHAT: Manufacturer of industrial and IT enclosures, racks and accessories – including high-efficiency, high-density climate control and power management systems for industrial, data center, outdoor and hybrid applications
WHERE:Corporate headquarters in Schaumburg, Ill.; manufacturing center in Urbana, Ohio