Panel building isn’t rocket science, but it’s reasonably complicated so lots of things can go wrong. Panel building today requires the following to be successful long term.
- Experienced People
- Efficient Business Operations
- Advanced Design Software
- Automated Production Equipment
- UL Panel Safety Certification
- Great Technical Support
Panel building success comes when you understand the entire process and execute each step efficiently. This includes knowing what the customer wants, estimating, documentation, parts procurement, and shipping, but let’s focus on the big three.
1 • Design and pre-production
Panel building is easier when design and pre-production steps are executed properly. When these are steps are done right it makes panel building look simple. Panel building may appear to be simple, but the entire process is more complicated than it seems. The entire design and pre-production process is
- Select the right enclosure and components to meet the specified requirements.
- Produce accurate physical layout drawings to insure components will fit comfortably.
- Produce accurate schematic drawings to insure components will be wired correctly.
- Order the selected components and enclosure to determine the earliest production start date.
- Schedule production after all parts have arrived using skilled personnel with the right tools.
2 • Production
Panel building is easier when panels are designed properly, all required parts are at hand, and the right tools and production equipment are at your disposal. When all the required preliminary work has been done properly you have the highest probability of building panels efficiently with the fewest errors.
Still, problems occur. This is when experienced people and standard procedures are most important because if your process falls apart when a problem occurs, all the preliminary work doesn’t matter. When problems occur follow procedure to solve them. This reinforces the value of experience and standard procedures.
- Document any problems by marking up (redline) the physical layout and / or schematic drawings.
- Review any problems with the control panel designer and work with them to devise a solution.
- Review the marked up (redlined) drawings with quality control to let them know the design changed and why.
3 • Quality Control
In every company there’s a constant battle between production and quality control. Production wants to ship product and Quality Control only wants to ship good product. Some companies downplay the role of quality control to keep their output steady. This is a short sighted business strategy.
The best companies integrate quality control into their entire operation. When a quality problem is detected, everyone stops and immediately focuses their attention on the problem and devising a solution. This forced collective problem solving under time pressure helps the entire company become better and more efficient.
The best companies understand that ignoring quality problems and shipping product with known problems is bad for business. Customers will eventually discover your problems and each discovery turns the best case scenario into a bad or worst case scenario. Each discovered problem creates a lose-lose scenario.
- BEST – Customers compliment your company and quality products, and your reputation builds.
- BAD – Customers tell you about your problems, and you fix them to save your reputation.
- WORST – Customers don’t tell you about your problems, they just go away.