A panel builder works on a control panel

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Andrew Mutch Andrew Mutch Having previously worked as an aircraft technician with HM Forces, Andy is one of our Professional Services Consultants and has been with EPLAN for 10 years. Part of Andy's role is to actively analyse customers processes, develop solution concepts and workflows for customer requirements. Andy is also our resident Harness expert!
18/06/24

Improving Panel Production: 10 Tips to Take Your Panel Building to the Next Level

Author: Andrew Mutch Time to read: minute minutes

The quest for fewer mistakes, more flexible production, shorter lead times, and lower costs in panel production is a complex challenge, with no one-size-fits-all blueprint for optimum production processes. While the solution is dependent upon the unique dynamics of your customers, products, working methods, and business strategy, there are universal approaches that every workshop manager can adopt to optimise their production process.

In this article, we’ll outline 10 practical tips to elevate your panel building to the next level.

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1. Improve Collaboration With Your Team

Successful change depends upon the support of your team. Involve your employees from the start, encouraging them to identify and take ownership of potential improvements to create a collaborative approach that fosters responsibility and innovation.

2. Provide Effective And Meaningful Input

Effective panel building hinges on accurate and comprehensive input from the outset. Collaborate closely with engineers to ensure that your team has the necessary essential information, such as detailed 3D drawings and wiring lists. As well as benefiting the client by meeting their exacting specifications, this will also enhance efficiency and reduce costs and lead times.

3. Simplify The Process Of Work Preparation

Distinguish clearly between work preparation and execution. Work preparation should focus on project planning, leaving routine tasks to other departments. For example, parts ordering could be delegated to logistics, rather than taking up the valuable time and skill of the project management team.

 

4. Identify And Separate The Process Steps

 

When constructing a panel, it is common to follow several steps such as logistics, mechanical processing, parts assembly and wiring. However, in many workshops, these steps are often carried out by the same employee in the same location. Divide the panel construction process into distinct steps, each with its own workspace. This maximises the use of specific skills, simplifies planning and management, reduces inventory and logistics costs, and enhances standardisation and automation. The result is a more transparent, cost-effective, and adaptable process.

 

Redesign The Production Space

 

Organise your production space to mirror the process flow. This layout minimises unnecessary movements and enhances efficiency: from logistics to mechanical processing, assembly, wiring, testing, and finally to the customer.

 

Tidy the workspace

 

A clean workspace is crucial to efficiency. Implement a routine that involves removing non-essential items, organising necessary tools, and maintaining cleanliness. A drive to improve the functionality of the workspace will make it easier for team members to carry out their work and make a tidy environment an integral part of your work ethic.

Enhance visibility

Maintain clear visibility of each product's status in the workshop. Tools such as status signs can keep all team members informed about the who, what, where, and when of each product.

 

Improve Ergonomics

 

Pay attention to the ergonomics of transporting products within the workshop. Aim to minimise heavy lifting (not more than 23 kg) and explore alternative solutions for moving heavy panels. This will protect your staff against avoidable workplace injuries and ensure their skills and talents are invested in the design project rather than expended on unnecessary manual activities.

Take Digital Transformation In Your Stride.

Embrace digital transformation by automating mechanical operations and maintaining a digital flow of information from engineering to delivery. This might involve standardising designs for different clients or outsourcing mechanical operations to the panel supplier.

 

Discard The Inventory

 

With a well-planned production process, you'll know exactly which parts are needed and when. Coordinate with suppliers for just-in-time delivery to eliminate the need for an extensive inventory and unnecessary expenditure.

 

Get In Touch

 

To find out more about how we can help you to optimise your panel production, please contact EPLAN today on (0)1709 704100

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