Rittal leaders respond to customers’ questions

During Hannover Fair, members of Rittal Corp.’s leadership team answered questions from system integrators and distribution partners.


Rittal gave a sneak preview of the wall-mounted cooling units Blue e+ at Pack Expo 2015 prior to introduction at Hannover Messe 2016. Rittal says the unit saves 75% energy compared to traditional cooling due to speed-regulated components and heat pipe tecRittal Corp. held a roundtable with its customers, most of which are system integrators and distribution partners. Brian Brink, vice president of channel sales, Schaumburg, Ill. facilitated the discussion with Dean Arvanitis, director of marketing and product management; and Glenn Wishnew, manager, project management team leader, North America participating as well.

Brink said that about 80% of the company's industrial sales is through its distribution partners. He also explained that between 80% and 85% of the products sold in North America are built in Rittal's Ohio facility. Then he began the question and answer session.

Q: You indicated in the U.S. not being the largest. What do you expect your market share is in the U.S. right now?

Brink: Our analysis of the enclosure market suggests that the top three or four companies have only about half the market. The other highly-customized enclosure manufacturers represent probably half of the pie. We think we're high single-digits, maybe 10% share, and our closest competitor is maybe two or three times that at the moment. We have a highly differentiated product. We're not looking to be a "me too" company. We find our customers like our product for the flexibility it offers. Modular isn't a bad word. We think it means flexibility, speed, cost savings for our customers, and options.

Q: Is that true for the IT side as well?

Brink: We tend to focus a lot on the industrial side. But our IT products are world class. Anything you see from Microsoft, HP, Amazon, and Facebook—we build all of the racks for Microsoft. The IT sector is a huge area of focus for us from a growth standpoint. We're working on a better channel to market, particularly in North America. We have a lot of large, direct global key accounts, but there's also a channel of sales that we're not tapping fully into right now. 

Arvanitis: Talking about the IT market, in some cases, you don't see the Rittal brand. But you can go into any data center, any IT environment, and chances are, you are surrounded by Rittal products. We private-label a lot of the product for the customers that Brian mentioned.

Q: Can you talk about your new cooling products? How are you setting yourself apart from the other guys? 

Arvanitis: We're really excited about the Blue e+. It's a game-changing technology for us. Just to give you an idea, our current climate control product, the Blue e, is about 30% energy efficient over competitive models. The new Blue e+ is about 70% more energy efficient than that. It's a significant improvement in technology to the point where we're seeing many customers replacing brand new air conditioners—competitive models they've just bought—because of the cost savings, the return on investment.

Brink: The other thing we do, it's much more intelligent. You can take your smartphone with near-field communications and get status of the Blue e+ as well as the enclosure.

Q: The Blue e+ air conditioner has a much tighter delta T hysteresis. What would be the applications for such a tight setpoint control?

Wishnew: The benefit to that is efficient operation. It's a very tight control within the system that prevents temperature oscillations. Through precision technology and intelligence, it controls the hysteresis very tightly.

Q: Rittal should make the Blue e+ EtherNet/IP-compatible so we can get the data to monitor the climate inside the enclosure.

Wishnew: The good news is, that's exactly the plan. There is a control module that's in development right now that will make it (the Blue e+) Ethernet compatible. It's taking the next step for Industrie 4.0 because your cooling system is on the computer network within the factory floor.

Q: How do I tailor the Blue e+ to the needs of my particular enclosure?

Brink: There is a calculator we use to input the size of the equipment and the cooling, or heat removal requirements, and will calculate the particular air conditioning solution to use.

Q: Does Rittal have sister companies?

Arvanitis: We have a number of sister companies—ePlan is one, Rittal Automation Systems (RAS), Kiesling, which is part of RAS, and that's consistent with our focus and drive toward Industrie 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Brink: The Kiesling is a CNC cutting machine for our enclosures and ePlan is the software that feeds directly into that machine. They are designed to work seamlessly.

Jack Smith, content manager, CFE Media, jsmith@cfemedia.com.

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