PANEL ASSEMBLY FACTORY SET-UP & OPERATION


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 owner's responsibility.

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 factory.

In summary, the services provided are tailored to match the needs of the client.

PRELIMINARY STUDIES

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
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                                                                                                                                                                      
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 a problem.


RECRUITING
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.


TRAINING & 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.


FACTORY SELECTION
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.


SELECTION OF SUPPLIERS
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.


COMPUTERS & SOFTWARE
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
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                                                                                                                                                  
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.


PRODUCTS
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.