The magazine of Friedhelm Loh Group

The magazine of Friedhelm Loh Group

Innovation – Rittal

Innovation? It’s a back-breaking task

Interview “When can we buy it?” The initial feedback on the crowning glory of the Rittal portfolio – the new VX25 – has been impressive. Test users are talking about the best enclosure they’ve ever laid their hands on. be top spoke to Professor Friedhelm Loh, Owner and CEO of the Friedhelm Loh Group about the background to the years of research and development work that have culminated in the VX25.

Text Ulrich Kläsener ––– Photography

You had three separate teams of developers working on the project for the new VX25 large enclosure at the same time. Did that work out well?  Looking at the speed of development, the dynamics and the results, I’d say yes, it absolutely did. We’ve been able to register numerous patents on the back of this work. They’ve either been implemented in the VX25 or are ready for use in more innovations.

Innovation is the epitome of change. That also affects in-house R&D processes. How has Rittal overcome the barriers that come with ingrained habits and mindsets? Well, we based our work strictly on the current and future needs of our customers. We asked ourselves which Rittal solutions our customers could use now and in the future to become more effective and, ultimately, more efficient. That is the all-important question. To find the answer, you need to look beyond your own four walls.

What does that mean? It means you start off focusing on what your customers worldwide actually need and only then, at the end of that process, turn to the product. Of course, when it comes to product development, transferring all that into practical application is a pretty big task. The most important parameter is our customers’ success.

Rittal pulled out all the stops for that with the new VX25. It started with field studies at control system and switchgear engineering companies around the world. What do the results mean for your staff in Development? Innovation is a back-breaking task. You have to be clear about that. Besides the expertise of the workforce, it requires a curiosity for new things and the necessary capacities – first and foremost courage, determination, structure and an iron will to succeed.

What do you mean by “courage”? We need to have the courage to be open. Things that are still classed as innovative today will likely be out of date tomorrow. You’re never going to get far with tunnel vision, a me-first outlook and entrenched structures. You need to be tenacious in regularly questioning established approaches and the accepted wisdom in your plant.

That leaves determination and structure. Let’s take Industry 4.0. As a market leader, we have to be spot-on at anticipating mega­trends like that and incorporating them consistently into products, so that our solutions are futureproof for us and our customers. That then creates genuine added value for everyone.

Progress is an integral part of the Rittal DNA. But anyone who breaks new ground surely has to prepare for uncertainties, don’t they? Every new product that is developed harbours opportunities and risks. However, any company that turns away from new ideas that make sense and chooses to rest on its laurels is taking far too big a business risk.  That applies to our customers just as much as it does to us. If the R&D process is based on a sound analysis and work structure, the risks and development timeframes can be minimised.

So has the “creative corner” of days gone by run its course? Of course not. Our staff have exceptional expertise and skills. The development of the VX25 showed once again that the know-how we’ve built up over several decades of developing and manufacturing enclosures really is gold dust. Lifelong learning is no hollow catchphrase – it’s a crucial solution. The new VX25 is a shining example of precisely that. We also used scientific methods to record and analyse customer processes, brought outsiders on board to help us think outside the box and looked at completely different sectors – that is an important basis for innovation. The result is pure inspiration.

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