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The machines are coming! High-tech has made its way into the Rittal factory

2018-11-06. The issue of Industry 4.0 has become almost obligatory in the trade journals and the local news-papers at industrial locations, not least because the transformation of the factories is in full swing, including Rittal’s plant in Haiger. More than 100 high-tech machines have recently arrived at the new factory and they are now being put into operation, one step at a time. Nothing works here without data.

Huge trucks have recently been unloaded in front of Rittal’s new factory in Haiger. Their valuable freight: More than 100 high-tech machines for a production area covering more than three football pitches. But one machine does not arrive on its own. In the future, they will be working together, linked by data. What does that mean? It’s quite simple – products can now be made even more precisely and quickly because they have first been created on the computer as ‘digital twins’. This data is accessed by the machines in the factory; they then produce the genuine counterpart.

But there again, it is not quite that simple: All the systems - in other words not just the machines, but also the entire machine combinations - operate together in one network. They access different types of data or exchange information in different ways. However, the decisive factor is that the human colleague controls, monitors and influences precisely these processes. Only then does every machine “know” just what has to be done – and when and how.

Both the machinery and the complete reconstruction of the plant represent an immense investment. Oliver Poth, manager of the Rittal Haiger plant, explains why Rittal is investing €250 million: “Any investment on this kind of scale would be a deterrent to many companies. But we are not innovation leaders without reason. At Rittal, we deal with state-of-the-art technologies – and not only in theory. That’s because we are investing in the future - and helping to shape it.”

“Industry 4.0”, by the way, stands for the fourth industrial revolution; following the invention of the steam engine, the production line and automation, industry of the future will be characterised by networking.