Editor’s Note: Our blog series “Future Ready” captures UCEC’s efforts to prepare for the electrical control panel industry of the future. Check out the rest of the series below this post.
By Garrod Massey
The panel industry is changing, although it can be hard for the outside observer to see this change. One of the best things we do to be ready for the future here at UCEC is to stay up-to-date on the newest developments in electrical engineering, controls and industrial automation.
Mark, myself and other colleagues are subscribed electronically to Control Engineering and various industry forums. We receive a stack of industry-related magazines each month at UCEC HQ. We attend trade shows, meet with industry experts and get advanced training. We keep our eyes and our minds open.
How does this help with quoting, now and in the future? Well, the best answer is that we are trying to stay ahead of the curve and anticipate the changes to come. The reason most people think the panel industry hasn’t changed much is because it didn’t, for many years, and then over the past 20 years, technology changes (such as the move from relay logic to PLCs) stepped up.
We need to know the past as we head into the future. For instance, PLCs can control most processes in today's automation, however certain codes and standards still don't allow them to operate without some sort of mechanical backup. Theoretically, a program can be written to shut off moving equipment and machinery, but we still add a mechanical relay to make sure the job gets done. PLCs are in the picture, of course, but old-timey relays are present, too.
It’s experience like this that guarantees our quoting skills will be useful far into the future. We need to be able to articulate to customers the exact requirements for their panel projects to deliver the most accurate quote. We take our quoting responsibilities very seriously.
In fact, we won a project recently because of this careful attention to quoting. I talked to the engineer on the project who said our quote was the most detailed and contained the most careful accounting of various challenges.
When a quote is requested from us, the Bill of Materials may have 20 parts on it. When we are done, it may have closer to 100 to account for all of the various parts and components. For example, a customer may say they need a disconnect but we’ll add to that a disconnect handle, lugs, lug covers, door adapter, and so on. One part might need 10 more parts to be complete!
As we move steadily into the future, quoting will only get better at UCEC as we bring all of our team’s experience to bear. And the end winner is our customers. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Garrod is Operations Support Manager at UCEC.