By Zach Fothergill
At UCEC, we always seek ways to do things better and be more efficient. From sending Garrod and Ron to Underwriters Laboratory to learn the latest safety testing standards for hazardous locations, to staying in touch with new tech at tradeshows, we know that embracing the future of manufacturing is vital. If you don’t, more so than ever, it’s going to blow past you.
I think for about 30-40 years, manufacturing didn’t change too much. But now, there are so many electronics involved with manufacturing including apps and robotics, not to mention the Internet of Things (IoT). A lot of panel shops haven’t changed much, but not UCEC.
Earlier in May, Garrod and John Beattie went to the Electric Wiring Processing Technology Expo in Milwaukee, WI. Our actual day-to-day work, which is all about automating things, is interestingly unautomated. So, Garrod and John checked out technology that helps craftsmen like us do things more efficiently.
In September, Morgan Burriss and I will travel to Chicago for the International Manufacturing Technology Show. As luck would have it, we stumbled on this show two years ago when we were in town for something different. It’s a worldwide show that occurs every two years. People fly in and bring huge machines the size of small houses and set them up. We have our eyes on some really great technology, so hopefully, I can report back in the fall about that.
I think the best part about seeing new tech hit the shop floor is how it makes us better. We build panels so much faster than we did when I started nearly ten years ago. The quality is better and we make many, many more panels. We’re made our work efficient, and that’s due to a number of factors, but technology is a large part.
Zach is an Operations Support Manager at UCEC.
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I recently attended a seminar on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Sponsored by Rexel and Rockwell Automation*, the seminar was attended by folks who work in and design systems for “the connected enterprise.” I ran into several engineering firms we work with, in addition to UCEC customers and vendors. IIoT is a real game changer in our industry with the advantages of reduced costs, faster installation and real-time data.
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A lot of people think the panel industry is a quiet, staid industry where very little innovation happens. That may have been true decades ago, but electrical control panel fabrication has enjoyed the benefits of new technology. And UCEC is definitely taking advantage of these new technology innovations to bring our customers better panels with greater efficiencies. .
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We’ve always had colorful panels at UCEC, but now we have a little bit more paint inside our electrical control panels.
I put my daughter on the bus to middle school last week, and like any parent, I thought of the passage of time. From tiny infants to adolescents headed off to the wider world, kids are a great reminder of grasping what’s important to you.
It took Denise Nation a few twists and turns to end up on the Wiring team at UCEC in 2016. Her first career track was in healthcare, but she had a feeling that wasn’t exactly what she was supposed to do. A chance to attend school for avionics electronics was intriguing; Denise says she always liked figuring out how things worked.
Editor's Note: Several members of the UCEC team recently returned from Monterrey, Mexico where we helped our customer modify and expand some panels they had onsite. This trip made us remember a similar journey in February 2016.