Rittal Systems

Thinking inside the box

On a large scale, Rittal is the leading enclosure manufacturer in the world, with offices in over 70 countries and manufacturing facilities on four continents. This is a company that started in Germany in 1961 and built a solid reputation for quality and innovation, before working its way around the world.

As far as Canadians are concerned, Rittal Systems Canada registered here about 15 years ago, landing in Mississauga, Ontario. Shortly after it was established, Rittal Systems secured its place in the country as an innovative manufacturer of high-quality enclosures, IT infrastructure solutions, climate control solutions and accessories. Expanding into three more sales and distribution facilities in Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver, the company’s success is easily apparent and certainly well deserved.

‘Little grey boxes everywhere’

For those who aren’t sure what an enclosure manufacturer is, you are not alone. Fortunately, Anthony Varga, Rittal Systems general manager, explains it in a simple way: “We see ourselves as a mechanical packaging company,” he begins. “An enclosure can be as simple as a little grey box in your house that protects a piece of electrical equipment, or as big as something to protect military or medical equipment. The way I would describe it is our customers build something (typically electronic), and we provide the physical structure around it to turn it into a usable product.”

Varga uses familiar examples. “IBM might make a circuit board or Dell might make a server, but they can’t sell it to you as is. We provide the mechanical infrastructure that the technology can be mounted into, kept cool and protected and secured from fire.”

Rittal Systems provides original equipment manufacturing (OEM) for such IT customers, but it is certainly not limited to one industry. “Some of the most frequent customers include universities and municipalities,” Varga maintains. “You may have a municipality that is installing street lights and needs to put the electronics into something. Or you could have a retail chain whose data centres need to be mounted and protected. As you drive around your city, you might notice little grey boxes everywhere, and they could be ours. We have customers across Canada and we are diversified across industries.”

Ingenious design

For Rittal Systems, it is clearly custom design that sets them apart. But the company’s way of customization might not be how you might imagine it. Unlike the traditional competition, who may build something specifically for one customer, Rittal has off-the-shelf components that can be configured in many different ways to achieve a result.

Varga describes it like a Mechano toy set. “With the same basic parts that build an IT rack, you can add a few different parts and build a power distribution centre,” he says. “From pre-made components, we engineer and configure end products. All parts are in stock at all times and can be mixed and matched to create different outcomes. To customise a solution, we simply configure the parts differently.”

The brilliance is two-fold. First, having pre-made, readily available components is efficient use of both time and money. Second, using the same components means never holding custom parts for only one customer.

Besides the structure of the enclosures, Rittal also has industry-leading solutions for providing cooling—from a small, single enclosure, up to an entire data centre. “One of the biggest differentiators of our cooling systems is we provide solutions that can be integrated inside IT racks, so they can take out tremendous amounts of heat without adding supplementary room cooling,” Varga explains. “It’s a liquid-to-air heat exchange that runs outside of the building via a chiller.”

This sort of innovation is important, as the industry deals with more advanced electronics. “In the last 15 years, technology has been developed with more sensitive cooling needs and environmental requirements,” Varga adds. “Technology went from sitting in a very sterile room with a regulated environment to being deployed out in the field, beside highways or out in the oil fields, for example. We are working to keep our customers’ products safe and protected from the elements.”  

Building the brand

Although Rittal Systems is doing very well in the Canadian market, Varga says the company wants to keep strengthening its brand. “We’re trying to expand our footprint and brand presence in Canada,” he explains. “We are still viewed as being German based, but we want to continue to build our legacy in Canada. We want customers to realise we’re a large entity that operates out of four locations in Canada, providing products, services and engineering from our market here and not out of Europe.” With a little time and a continued commitment to customer service and innovation, Rittal Systems will lead the way in Canada, just as it does the rest of the world.