A manufacturing centre based on Industry 4.0 principles is currently under construction at Rittal’s Rittershausen plant and will include production lines for manufacturing large enclosures. The company is gearing up its production to Industry 4.0 through consistent digitisation of processes and fully automated profiling, welding and panel manufacturing units, making the new centre a model for all Rittal production plants worldwide.
In 1961, Rittal made history by manufacturing the first volume-produced enclosure at its Rittershausen plant and by launching its off-the-shelf delivery programme. The plant turned out to be a game-changer for the industry and today is the company’s most efficient factory for manufacturing high-quality enclosures.
The plant represents an €120m investment sets the future direction for the plant, once work there is complete in 2020. “Our goal is to establish the world’s most modern centre for manufacturing large enclosures. To this end, we have started the transformation into the age of Industry 4.0. We are setting the next standard in the Rittal production system for our worldwide plants – based on the ‘one Rittal, one standard’ principle,” said Carsten Röttchen, managing director International production at Rittal’s Rittershausen plant, which already featured a high degree of automation in its sub-processes.
“With the increasing digitization called for by Industry 4.0, we will be automating further sub-processes, increasing data consistency and integrating the production process into a completely digitised value chain through a manufacturing execution system”, added Röttchen.
The process improvements include knowledge-based systems that are constantly evolving through data networking and analysis. Trends can be detected in real time, as they arise, by means of continuous target-to-actual comparisons of the production machines and statistical processes. As a result, interference factors can be avoided before they occur, and tolerances can be safeguarded in order to achieve the high quality demands of the process. In addition, predictive maintenance data is used to improve the technical availability of the production facilities.
More than 30 robots required are utilised for VX25 volume production at Rittershausen. And in contrast to the new Haiger plant, which is being built on a greenfield site and will be ready to start production at the end of 2018, the conversion towards digitised and automated processes is taking place during ongoing operations.
The first units for the VX25, such as the fully automated panel lines for mounting plates, as well as the profiling and welding systems, have already been installed. When completed in 2020, the new production facility will have three profiling systems, each 70 metres in length. This means that the horizontal and vertical frame sections of the new VX25 large enclosure system, which have perfect symmetry and a consistent 25-mm pitch pattern, will be manufactured in one process.
The volume production lines also have fully automatic welding systems. Thirty-one robots (for welding and handling) deployed in the fully automatic volume welding system will ensure that the transport and welding processes run reliably within the plant. They will also guarantee the Rittal quality standard of the new Rittal VX25 large enclosure system.
“The development of the new VX25 production lines was only the first step on the way to the digital future of the Rittal production facilities. The global transformation of Rittal’s production towards Industry 4.0 is already going flat out,” Röttchen explained.
The transformation has already begun in the Valeggio plant in Italy. The first Industry 4.0 principles are being applied there for manufacturing Rittal Blue e+ cooling units. Rittal is also planning to expand and reorganise the Chinese and US sites, focusing on digital transformation, and getting them ready for the future.
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