Investing for the future, Rittal’s new plant in Haiger embraces the principles of Industry 4.0. The company has made its largest single investment, totalling €250 million, to establish the world’s most advanced facility for its new compact and small enclosures. The highly-automated manufacturing processes, in conjunction with the neighbouring distribution centre, enable seamless order fulfilment, guaranteeing rapid availability of standard products and accessories.
This bold investment ensures that all subsidiaries, including Africa, benefit from these advancements. Managing director for South Africa, Adrian Buddingh, comments: “By putting Industry 4.0 into practice globally, the company looks to advance smart manufacturing locally as well. As a world leading provider of solutions for enclosures, power distribution, climate control and IT infrastructure, as well as corresponding software and services, we are creating one of the world’s most advanced production plants for compact and small enclosures.”
Owner and CEO of the Friedhelm Loh Group, Professor Friedhelm Loh, says: “The plant is to be fully aligned with highly-efficient Industry 4.0 principles. The new manufacturing site will also safeguard future competitiveness for our customers and our own business. The investment is a positive statement in terms of the regional economy and the 290 jobs at our new Haiger plant. We have quite consciously decided to shape the future with the local people who made us what we are today.”
The new factory halls, with 24 000 square metres of floor space, will soon house more than 100 high-tech machines. Together they will manufacture some 9000 AX compact and KX small enclosures daily, processing approximately 35 000 metric tons of steel annually.
The new era of industrial manufacturing will also usher in changes for the human workers. There will be fewer strenuous manual tasks such as lifting and carrying. Instead, the focus will shift to controlling, monitoring and fine-tuning processes. The new technologies will bring improvements to the working environment as a whole. The Haiger facility will be quiet, clean and energy-efficient. For example, waste heat from the new paint shop will be recovered and reused for degreasing components or for heating the factory halls. Efficient use of water is also a high priority. Process water is managed within a closed-loop system, where it is cleaned and reused.
The Haiger facility is a pilot for the real-world implementation of Industry 4.0 and will act as a role model for Rittal’s international operations. It will also be a pioneer and reference for Rittal’s own products and services in terms of the IIoT.