5 Considerations for Outsourcing Control Panels

Are you thinking about outsourcing your control panel manufacturing? Learn through our five considerations in selecting a control panel manufacturing partner. 

#1 Capacity

Does the supplier have sufficient engineering and production capacity?

Capacity, for control panel builders, is a multi-faceted measure. An effective capacity measurement must include analysis across a hierarchy of needs for successful panel building.


Demand: Can the panel builder financially support the order volume required in outsourcing project?
Infrastructure: Does the panel builder have the physical space, manufacturing processes, and equipment to support demand?
Design: Will the panel builders engineering team be ready to support engineering requirements at scale?
Component Materials: Does the panel builder have a strong process to align component material purchases with control panel demand?
Team: Can your panel builder demonstrate an effective staffing plan to meet project requirements?

#2 Continuity of Supply

Will the supplier be able to maintain availability of component materials?

The largest element of a control panel is the component materials that go into it. We define continuity of supply as maintaining a regular, reliable, and flexible supply of component materials to match customer demand for finished panels.


Planning: Can the panel builder leverage data to arrange planned purchases of component materials; before the completed panel is ordered?
Variation: As a direct result of the complexity, and the enabling function which a panel provides, significant variation should be expected.
Volume: Does the panel builder maintain safety stock effective to manage +/- changes in volume?
Materials: Can the panel builder combine engineering and procurement to maximize availability when material requirements change?
Escalation: Effective sourcing is often a team sport; is the panel builder partnered with component suppliers to generate effective escalation in a time of need?

#3 Quality

Will the panels be assembled, programmed, and tested to meet quality requirements?

An effective quality program for control panel building must consider quality at the source for all content, from material receipt through final inspection. Through established standards, multiple points of inspection, regular reviews, and continuous improvement every member of the organization owns quality.


Standards of Performance: Has the panel builder set an objective standard for external quality?
Inspection: Does the panel builder maintain quality at the source through inspections at multiple points during the build process?
Reviews: Has an internal and external, quality review process been established?
Continuous Improvement:  the pressure of increasing standards improves outcomes; has the panel builder “beat the raise” previously established quality goals?

#4 Documentation

Can the supplier offer timely and accurate technical documentation of the panels assembled?

Control panels are manufactured to interface with other pieces of equipment. Documentation is the foundation of an effective control panel program as it informs the user of what to expect, what they have received, and how the panel is to interface with other equipment in the system.


Content: Do the supplier’s documents contain the 3 “must haves”, Bill of Material, Layout Drawing, Schematic?
Accuracy: Are the documents accurate to how the panel was actually built (inclusive of any late changes or revisions)?
Format: Does the supplier provide documents in appropriate formats (.pdf, .stp etc.)?
Timeliness: Are the documents available at time of quotation?
Availability: Are the documents available in an easily accessible, secure, and always-available location?

#5 Aftermartket Support

How will the supplier support panels after completion?

After they are manufactured, control panels need to operate in the field, often controlling critical pieces of equipment, for long periods of time. Further, panels must accommodate moves, adds, and changes associated with the equipment they control. Timely, skilled, and specific support are hallmarks of a successful aftermarket support program.


Timely: Has the control panel builder set up an aftermarket support team, work process, and tool(s) to respond quickly?
Skilled: Does the aftermarket support team have access, through digital tools, to the appropriate manufacturing context of the panel in question?
Specific: Control panels are unique. Does the control panel builder have a system capable to support requests for each specific control panel?

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Joe House