By Mark Inboden
In a recent story by CompanyWeek, I was quoted as saying, “Keeping on the front end of innovation has remained a constant (for UCEC)....technology is a huge driver of the panels we build.”
When we take a look around at our industry, with manufacturing’s process-heavy landscape, it’s clear that we need electrical control panels. The demand is not going away. The panels are not going away.
But, one thing is sure: panels are going to look different in the future. They will likely be delivered in a different way. They will be faster, more efficient and more user-friendly.
The pace of change for our industry can seem deceptively slow or even non-existent. But change has come for the panel industry and change will continue to be a player in our business.
For instance, as I mentioned in the CompanyWeek story, years ago, almost all of the panels UCEC used to make were relay-based, but that's changed to almost all programmable logic controllers (PLCs). And those PLCs are much, much smaller now than in the past.
Our employees have to be open and ready to adapt to these types of things. The designs we look at today? We may never see them again because the technology will change. Our employees have to be okay with that. Our Management Team has to be okay with that. The Internet of Things (IoT) will cause a lot of this change, and many of our processes will have to be reengineered over the next few years.
On the hiring side, we need to attract talent that is oriented toward thinking about the future. I think this workforce is out there. Schools and employers have done a real disservice toward people by pigeonholing everyone into a four-year degree. Some people are super smart and want to get to work after learning a valuable trade. These folks don’t see the value of sitting in a classroom. Many trades offer a stable, high-paying career.
UCEC is committed to innovating with one eye on the future. We’re building our business on the future and its need for control panels. When that future arrives, we’ll be ready.
Mark is CEO and President of UCEC.