Rittal North America's new managing director answers 7 questions on what's driving the industry

In this interview, Mike Freund makes his case for how Rittal can help lead industry forward

Rittal North America  new managing director Mike Freund thinks they can help you transcend the traditional data center. The company recently brought Freund on as managing director where he will lead an executive team responsible for the growth of the well-regarded company’s operations, manufacturing, sales and administrative functions.

Prior to joining Rittal, Freund was director of technical sales, support and training at Schneider Electric.

“We are pleased to welcome him to the team,” said Koen Wolfcarius, executive vice president for Rittal North and South America. “We’re confident that his expertise will help grow Rittal’s business in the United States."

Mike Freund answered 7 questions about the organization and how technology is affecting the industry.

What are three key things that a machine builder, system integrator or manufacturer should know about your company?

Rittal has a global footprint and presence with many different types of end users, OEMs and control panel builders. When it comes to meeting the application needs of the control builder, they can feel sure that Rittal has the experience and the people that can help them meet those needs. Rittal and ePlan offer them more capability to design and modify system components than any of our competitors. From a modularity and flexibility standpoint, Rittal enclosures can fit a variety of design configurations without sacrificing delivery time.

What new technologies are driving your product development and why?

Automation is driving industrial and IT industries towards greater efficiency in production, energy usage and operations. In addition to automating our own manufacturing processes, Rittal is partnering with OEMs, integrators, distributors and end users to drive more efficiency through the entire value chain. The overall end-user automation strategy to improve plant efficiency is really driving our customers to look from the design stage all the way through manufacturing on the factory floor level. Rittal is uniquely positioned to help return their focus to their business and their bottom line.

How does the Industrial Internet of Things figure in your business strategy?

One of the great things about being with a company like Rittal is that Internet of Things and Industrial Internet of Things isn't new to us. Rittal protects plant floor devices, connects through edge control, and enables supervisory control all the way up to manufacturing information systems. That's been a part of our business for a long time. We've grown with it, we are familiar with what our customers need. We're really excited about working with our customers to take advantage of all of the technology of today and looking at the technology of the future.

Rittal helps companies transcend the traditional data center. The data center is no longer this black box room within four walls of a company environment. Whether it be a closet in a municipal police station, a container sitting out on a transportation yard or a data center in a cave, we help companies bring their vision of technology to life, and it's tied directly to the Industrial Internet of Things. It's about, “How do we get data and the nerve center closer to the heart of the operation?” We're not bound by that traditional data center, Rittal can transcend that.

How will machine automation and controls alter the way companies staff their operations in the future?

As the manufacturing facilities become more automated, and the general capabilities of automation become more advanced, companies are going to have to track technology. One of the biggest challenges that we're all going to face is going to be attracting and inspiring talented people. The shortage of talent is out there, so partnering with a company like Rittal will you give you the ability to integrate software with the panel itself and the design. It helps companies become more efficient as OEMs to evolve their machines. And it helps end users integrate those machines into their processes.

How is the development of software solutions impacting your requirements for hardware?

The evolution of the industry around the availability of data and the transmission of data is something that we keep in mind with everything that we manufacture. Software integration comes into play with automation, and from the standpoint of development as well. It's important for our panel builders and our OEMs to be able to model their systems and modify their systems on the fly. So capabilities of the ePlan software, in conjunction with Rittal products, gives them extensive flexibility.

Scalability and industry partnerships are also ways that software has impacted hardware requirements. Our key industry partnership with folks like HP and ABB help us prepare for what's coming and ensures hardware is aligned with those changes.

As engineering and IT continue their convergence, which one is and/or software will be making your products better, faster and easier to use?

Systems are increasingly more complex, the ability to take efficiency, process and speed into account as you design your system will ensure the success of convergence. It's not just the product solution, it’s not just the software solution, it is a package solution. Everybody is supplying it these days, whether you're a panel builder, a systems integrator, an OEM or and end user, you have to look at the whole solution in order to optimize your automation system.

I would also say that people don't realize the role of the enclosure in making sure that all of the hardware and the software are optimized. I would go back to the scalability and flexibility of enclosures in the footprint of a data center in a controlled or uncontrolled environment. They're going to want to swap equipment, put new software in, scale it. The enclosure has to be able to evolve and I think that's where Rittal has a unique position.

Looking into the future, how will technology change your company over the next five years?

I'm really excited about the future of Rittal because we invest in making sure we're looking at advanced technologies around the factory floor, edge control, data center or manufacturing facility. There are a lot of advancements in automation that are not here yet, but we definitely strive to stay abreast of all of the technological changes. Looking at some of the talent that is now available, they are learning things at a much faster pace, being able to use software, being able to use technology that is going to be able to help us leapfrog what we've done in the past. I think it's a really exciting time to be in this industry.