A complete package of services is available for the set-up and operation
of a panel assembly factory. There are many variants of panel assembly
factory, from low voltage to medium voltage. The factory owners determine
the fundamental goal of the factory and the broad range of products
and services to be produced. The funding of the enterprise is also the
The factory may be required for the in-house assembly of switchgear
panels by an OEM (original equipment manufacturer). For instance, a
pump distribution centre may decide to manufacture pump starters and
pump control panels in order to complement the range of pumps. The product
range is relatively small and the emphasis is on component wiring. The
electrical schematics are standard and there is limited design work.
The factory is operated by a single manager under a quality assurance
system to ISO 9002.
At the other extreme, a factory may be required to manufacture low voltage
main switchboards and motor control centres, for sale on the open market
under its own brand name. In this instance, the product range is large
and the factory area may be 3000msq. The emphasis is on quotations,
sales, design, stock control, fitting and bus bar work with quality
assurance to ISO 9001.
In between these extremes there are many other possibilities, such as
an existing factory simply needing to add a new product range. An additional
service is that of rectifying unsatisfactory performance in an existing
In summary, the services provided are tailored to match the needs of
Preliminary studies are used to establish the
feasibility of the proposed panel assembly factory with the range of
products broadly chosen by the owners. The studies vary according to
the project, but may include items such as market analysis, expected
competitive advantage, factory location and size, manpower, legal and
contractual arrangements, licenses and registrations, language, cultural
sensitivities, funding, budgets, market research, organisation and structure.
Standard operating procedures are the documented
record of the procedures to be used in the operation of the factory.
They cover all aspects of the factory and are incorporated in the quality
assurance programme. The standard operating procedures set the performance
standards. They form part of the training package for new recruits and
are an essential element in the control of the factory.
Budgets are prepared in order to plan the cash
flow of the factory. The budgets cover sales, costs, profits, bank balance
and cash flow for each month over the coming financial year. Budgets
allow the state of the business to be monitored in advance so that there
is sufficient time for corrective action to be taken in the event of
Recruiting involves the selection of the suitable
person for each position in the organisation chart. Each position has
a unique position description. This provides a guide to the expected
duties for the person in that position. The recruiting may be from local
manpower or international manpower, depending on the circumstances.
It may be accomplished via a recruiting or manpower agency. It involves
advertising, reviewing possible candidates from a CV, arranging medicals,
interviews and employment contracts. International recruiting requires
additional efforts for visas, flight tickets and accommodation.
& HUMAN RESOURCES
Training and a functioning human resources department
are a critical foundation for the structure of a successful factory.
It is the corner stone around which the factory will grow. Training
is an effective management tool in controlling the quality of the product
from the factory. An effective human resources department helps promote
staff morale and enthusiasm.
The factory selection involves an evaluation of
the factors affecting the success of the factory which relate to the
factory location. The factors include size, cost, access, services,
air conditioning, web access, production flow and lay-out. If it is
a new enterprise, there is considerable freedom in the choice of a factory.
The creative and on-going selection of suppliers
is critical to the continued success of the enterprise. Suppliers are
evaluated in terms of quality, country of origin, political factors,
ease of business, language, product support, service, delivery and cost
in order to determine those most suited to the factory. It is always
advantageous to obtain an agency for those components which are commonly
used in the factory.The suppliers required for one factory will differ
from those to another factory depending on the factory's product range.
PLANT & MACHINERY
Plant and machinery is sourced to suit the product
range and the method of assembly. The equipment required is relatively
inexpensive. It includes metal working plant, specialist tools, test
instruments, wire cutting and terminating machinery, engraving and numbering
machines. The stores area requires shelving, with either a fork lift
or pallet jack. The workshop requires benches and fittings.
There is an increasing emphasis on computers and
software, especially if design and drafting is included. Software systems
are selected as required for accounting, inventory control, management
control, quality assurance, estimating, engineering, drafting, sales,
routine testing and automation / SCADA packages. Computers are usually
standard desk tops or laptops for mobile applications.
Marketing may not be required in all situations.
If required, a marketing plan is essential in order to plan the strategic
marketing goals. The marketing plan lays out the steps to be taken is
the successful marketing of the factory's products and services in line
with the goals of the owners. The marketing plan should cover all possible
areas of revenue and should detail the level of customer service required
in order to achieve its goals. The factory sales may include product
sales, after sales service, product field maintenance and testing, engineering
and drafting services, agency sales and joint ventures / co-operation.
Quality assurance is critical for the long term
success of the factory. For ISO 9001, an internal, manager's quality
assurance representative and two (2) internal auditors need to be appointed
and trained. All personnel are trained in the general principles of
quality assurance and in the specific requirements for their position.
An internal system of continuous product improvement must be implemented.
This will be a major stimulus for new products and for improvements
in the cost of production.
The broad range of products is determined by the
owners and may change from time to time. The possible range is very
diverse because of the enormous range of panels. There are panels for
communication and data, panels for medium voltage, motor control centres,
distribution switchboards, substations, automation and process control
panels, specialist panels, marine panels and many more.