As many of you have seen or followed for a little over the last 4 years we have been researching, sourcing, purchasing and implementing ways to solve the two largest issues that plague #Automation and #controlpanel builders:
1. How do we find, develop and best utilize the available labor force, given the high skill level of much of the work of panel building?
2. How can we maximize the efficiency and reduce the time it takes to produce every control panel that comes through our shop?
For us, the solution to the first question has been EPLAN#ProPanel software and #2SecondLean. EPLAN has been game changing for us in the speed of design, the quality of the designs and most importantly through the use of #SmartWiring and other solutions, is now allowing us to tap into the medium skill market and not have to hire people with a half decade or better of experience which helps a lot, especially with the labor shortage globally.
For the second question our answer has been automation equipment from nVent HOFFMAN Steinhauer machinery. It all started 4 and half years ago with the addition of our ModCenter CNC for panel modifications and over the past 5 months adding a #PWA6000 wire processing machine and #NCCut semi-automatic wire duct and din shear system.
Both companies have been outstanding partners and we look forward to the future with both.
The results? In one of our baseline products that we have been building for about 6.5 years we recently achieved a cumulative 63% decrease in the hours it takes to build! Through the use of the technology investments made, we have been able to see that product go from 63-67 hours per build at the beginning to it being completed in just over 25 hours per unit, which we build 25-30 of a year. A savings of 38 hours a piece and over 950 work hours a year on just one product is still unbelievable to me. Even more impressive is the improvements to the quality, the documentation and the overall caliber of the product we are producing.
I was sharing recently with a few people that I can remember the first time I attended the #SPSIPCDrives tradeshow about 8 years ago in Germany and how blown away I was with the way panel shops and technology were in Europe and in more recent trips how much it has continued to evolve. If you are looking for ways to improve your control panel operation hit me up, I would be happy to share what I have learned and help you out. I see a big potential risk for any shop that is stuck in the ways they have always done things. We are nowhere near perfect, and are always seeking more improvement, but I also believe that an important part to #reshoring manufacturing is being able to do better than what is done elsewhere. I would love to work with others who want to be as good as the best and continue to push the envelope and redefine what is possible.