Electrical control panel manufacturers are everywhere. Some are large corporations. Some are small garage shops. What distinguishes one from another is their knowledge and capability and safety certification. UL508A is the best known safety certification program for industrial electrical control panels, but there are others. See UL508A third party safety approval for more detail.
All electrical control panel manufacturers certified by UL to produce UL508A control panels are listed in the UL online certification directory. When you do a quick search it indicates there are ~5,000 electrical control panel manufacturers with UL508A certification.
Safety certification is important, but it’s only part of what defines an electrical control panel manufacturer.
5 Types of Electrical Control Panel Manufacturers
Electrical Control Panel Manufacturers are like restaurants in that there are so many to choose from. If you have a bad experience at your favorite you start looking for a new favorite. Some endure because they’re great. Others come and go because they’re only okay.
The great ones seem to provide great service effortlessly. They obviously love what they do and seem to always know and provide what you want. They get to know you. When you have a problem they find a way solve it quickly before it turns into a crisis. There are five basic types of electrical control panel manufacturers.
- Electrical Control Panel Manufacturers– Their primary business is producing control panels. The best ones know how Electrical Parts Distributors, Electrical Contractors, Control System Integrators, and Equipment Manufacturers work, but aren’t interested in performing their functions.
- Electrical Parts Distributors – An Electrical Parts Distributor’s primary business is distributing parts, but some distributors sell control panel parts and assemble control panels to expand their parts business. Most do it as a means to increase weak control panel parts sales.
- Electrical Contractors – An Electrical Contractor’s primary business is installing electrical equipment and the wiring that interconnect them, but some make control panels as part of their contracting business. Some do it to expand their business. Others do it to control quality.
- Control System Integrators – A Control System Integrator’s primary business is understanding and implementing new control system installations, but some build control panels to support their systems business. Some do it to grow their business. Others do it to improve quality.
- Equipment Manufacturers – An Equipment Manufacturer’s primary business is understanding their markets and producing equipment for them. Some build control panels to support their equipment business. Some do it to control cost. Others do it to control quality.
Control Market Segments
Most control panel manufacturers specialize in a market segment like Process Control, Machine Control, or Building Controls. Each requires an investment to be understood, so it makes good business sense to focus. Some control panel manufacturers are capable of serving multiple market segments well, but they’re rare.
Each control market segment includes a set of typical applications, panel components, field sensors, field control devices and equipment. Control panel manufacturers have to understand all market segment requirements to provide the high level of service most customers want. There are three basic control market segments.
- Process Control – Applications where process instrumentation (Level, Pressure, Temperature, pH, etc.) and process equipment (Pumps, Blowers, Valves, etc,) is used to control fluids (Liquids, Air, Slurries, Powders, etc.) in an industrial process.
- Machine Control – Applications where machine automation sensors (Position, Speed, Pressure, Temperature, etc.) and machine automation equipment (Conveyors, Actuators, etc,) is used to control solids (Sheets, Blocks, Boxes, Tubes, etc.) in an industrial machine.
- Building Controls – Applications where building automation sensors (Fire, Security, Temperature, etc.) and building automation equipment (Fire, Security, HVAC, etc,) is used to control the operation of a building.