Editor’s Note: Our new series “Future Ready” captures UCEC’s efforts to prepare for the electrical control panel industry of the future. Read the rest of the series below this post.
By Paula Zangari
As UCEC’s Project Coordinator, looking down the road to what’s coming our way is my business! Future thinking is in my DNA, so to speak. My job is to put all of the projects into perspective: do we have the right parts and the right scheduling to stay on track, on time and on budget? Using our project management software, plenty of in-person meetings and lots of time on the shop floor, I meticulously coordinate all of the little details that make up big projects.
When I think of the future of our shop, future planning isn’t going anywhere. Here’s a sneak peek into where planning might go in the next year and beyond.
Online vendor tools
We’re already lining up success for our “future selves” by getting set up on the web with our various vendor portals. When we have this functionality, we can make purchases, look up orders and research parts from our vendors.
Having online access to our vendors cuts down on paper and allows us to be more "green," something we’re actively trying to do as a company. We can track shipments, which helps with planning and organization. All of this saves time and keeps us moving forward.
Scheduling our projects definitely takes finesse, and I imagine this will only be more important in the future as the business grows. One of the first things I do when I get a PO is to look at the due date. Then I contact the customer and get more info. Is the due date an “on site” date or it is the date the customer wants to come by and check out the finished project? We get all of these details straight so no one is surprised.
We chose the vendor that’s best for the customer
If a part has a long lead time, I’ll ask the vendor to expedite it. If they can’t do that, I’ll try to find another vendor who can get the part to us faster. For instance, I had a backordered part the other day that was scheduled to take a month to arrive. I dug around online and found it $20 cheaper on Amazon. It was here in days.
We work hard to maintain great relationships with our vendors. These relationships benefit our customers by helping us get parts faster and often better pricing. Sometimes, we can get better terms for customer parts returns because we ask nicely—and in this business, kindness is how we forge relationships with vendors that often go back decades.
Whatever the future brings, I’m sure we’ll be planning like we do today. We’ll continue to use up-to-the-minute tools and employ talented craftsmen. Let’s go!
Paula is Project Coordinator for UCEC.