Many companies that require electrical panels for their equipment take on many of the tasks required internally. These tasks include but are not limited to electrical design, maintaining UL certification, managing UL audits, UL education, purchasing, inventory, receiving, assembly, and other considerations such as quality. This article explores some of the top reasons for considering outsourcing the design and assembly of UL 508A electrical panels.
1. Electrical Design Project Overload
Many companies design engineers are perpetually swamped and overloaded with project work, maintaining existing designs, and other internal tasks. Other companies struggle to hire and retain talented electrical design engineers for their electrical panel needs. Furthermore, if this resource is internal, they must be knowledgeable and up to date on the latest regulations for UL 508A. By partnering with a company that is a certified UL 508A electrical panel shop, many of these concerns are mitigated. Electrical design engineers on staff can now have time for higher-value projects and work with a professional company to design an electrical panel that meets UL 508A standards. Additionally, companies benefit from reduced human resource overhead with hiring and maintaining enough electrical design staff to cover all the work required.
2. UL Certification Costs & Maintenance
To get certified and maintain annual certification to be a UL 508A panel shop, it can cost a company tens of thousands of dollars plus additional annual fees. That might not sound too bad, but consider all the valuable time spent by electrical design engineers with audits, updating documentation, training, stickers, etc., when they could be working on more critical design projects. This lost time is lost opportunity for any company and could add up to hundreds of hours annually. Again, by considering a partner that is a certified UL 508A panel shop, all of the actual dollar costs can be eliminated and most of the lost time can be returned to an electrical design staff that is probably already overloaded and overworked.
3. Purchasing Power
Companies often only purchase the quantities necessary to meet their own production schedules. Depending on the volume, this may leave a lot of money on the table that could be saved by working with a company serving multiple customers with the same electrical components. By considering a partner and working with them on design aspects such as compatible electrical components, the partner can combine volumes on multiple builds to lower components costs through quantity discounts and rebates. Some percentage of these savings are typically passed on to the customer in reduced overall costs.
Most electrical panel designs involve dozens if not hundreds of part numbers to purchase, receive, inventory, and pick from inventory. This can add up to tens of thousands of transactions for your purchasing and shipping/receiving departments. Even with the best of efforts and attention to detail, humans make mistakes and a higher number of transactions means a higher possibility for mistakes, which in the end can affect your customer’s satisfaction with your company. Rather than taxing your purchasing and shipping/receiving staff with a high number of transactions, outsourcing your electrical control panels will consolidate numerous part numbers into a single part number and significantly reduce the number of transactions. With the right partner and considering blanket orders (frame agreements), partners will even inventory finished panels and ship the appropriate quantity to you on-time. This can significantly reduce or eliminate inventory for those part numbers and design.
5. Skilled Assembly Labor Shortage
Across the United States, there is a shortage of skilled electrical technician labor for assembling and wiring electrical panels. There are many reasons for this issue, yet the problem of hiring and retaining qualified staff still remains for most companies. Due to this shortage, the cost continues to rise for most companies to operate with large electrical panel assembly work forces. Due to the variation and relatively low volume of electrical panels, most of the tasks remain manual and can’t be automated with robotics or other methods. By partnering with a certified UL panel shop that specializes in maintaining a skilled electrical technician labor force, many of these issues are avoided and a company can concentrate on other human resource issues. Furthermore, the right partner is actively working with its manufacturing partners/vendors on efficiency ideas with panel builds such as wiring kits and assemblies, pre-cut or drilled components, and many other continuous improvement ideas to continue to take labor out of electrical panel builds.
6. Quality & Warranty Issues
This topic summarizes most of the previously covered topics. As a company who designs and assembles all of its electrical panels in-house, the only one to blame for quality issues is yourself. The potential for quality issues from design to UL certification to purchasing/inventory transactions to skilled labor is extremely high for most companies attempting to design, build and manage their electrical panels in-house. By partnering with a company that specializes in electrical control panel production, the accountability for quality and warranty issues shifts to the partner supplier. When quality issues arise, the partner company has the appropriate staff to quickly test, de-bug, and fix the electrical panel. Additionally, if there is a stocking agreement in place, replacement panels can be shipped immediately to wherever they are required quickly, getting machinery up and running.