Control Panel Vendors & the Buyer: Defining the Relationship


Ensuring the durability and certification of control panels in project construction demands expertise and precision from the get-go. In a perfect world you could keep this in-house, but delegating to control panel vendors almost always ends up saving costs and employee capacity.

Numerous factors contribute to the decision to outsource electronics manufacturing services. You consider delegating a task when:

  • You don't have the time 
  • It doesn't fit your job description
  • You don't want to invest in the resources to do it in-house
  • You don’t have the capacity to handle the full task in-house

Have you thought about all the other ways contracting out more work might benefit your business operation? Yes, it saves up-front time and money, but a third-party relationship also provides real value in total cost of ownership. Certifications, training, and manpower all contribute to that cost, and outsourcing to control panel vendors means that cost falls elsewhere – but your project still moves ahead on time. 

There are four areas where a UL 508A-certified panel shop or contracted control panel services can shoulder the load for your team:

  1. Efficiency
  2. Resource planning
  3. Quality control
  4. Expertise

A control panel vendor should make you more efficient.

Operational excellence involves a mindset shift, focusing on the “why” rather than just the “how.” 

Once upon a time, the need for a specific operation dictated the need to outsource. Now business plans (hopefully) include these decisions in their long-term planning. 

Today, the need for outsourcing could be one (or some) of many reasons:

A dedicated control panel vendor is purpose-built for quick and cost-effective completion of builds. An overwhelmed in-house team splitting time between regular tasks and this additional project won’t be so well equipped.

A contractor can streamline the process of modular building. You can hire a third party to produce a panel to a certain point and then use that base for multiple programs you have in the works. 

If demand or plans change, a contractor can probably pivot on a shorter timeline – it’s used to this ebb and flow. Its processes are likely more scalable than yours, providing the potential for growth on a schedule that’ll keep you happy.

A control panel vendor should help with resource planning.

This is one area where you can quickly tell the difference between a “vending machine” and a vendor that’s a true partner.

There are several ways a control panel company can help with resource planning to make your operation take less time, money, and effort:


When both the contractor and customer commit funds for materials and components, good things can happen:

  • Reduced costs for both sides: Pooling purchasing power can improve negotiation for prices as a result of ordering in a larger volume.
  • Shared network: Control panel vendors can assist with negotiations and connect you to its network of partner suppliers.
  • Risk mitigation: By sharing the risk, you’ll feel less impact when prices fluctuate, a component is in high demand, or a supplier goes MIA.

Inventory Control

When an electrical panel manufacturer also specializes in supply chain services, it can take even more of the workload off your hands. It’s more likely to have the staff and free time to effectively steer the logistics of procurement and delivery, ensuring timely delivery of key components.

Benefits of a turnkey panel services provider include:

    • Forecasting: Because the vendor’s budget is impacted too, it’ll have plenty of motivation to keep you informed on last-time buys, shortages, and other hiccups.
  • Warehousing: You don’t have to reserve or add space to house parts, and the vendor will keep a just-right amount on hand for optimal flow.
  • Simpler logistics: The streamlined supply process will have fewer complexities and costs, leading to efficiency in procurement and delivery.
  • Component expertise: With in-depth knowledge of the components of a control panel and materials required, a contractor can make sure your design uses materials that meet your quality and safety needs.

More on expertise later!

Labor Planning

By labor planning, we mean being able to eliminate that job function. A dedicated third-party team keeps you from scrambling to find internal help when demand spikes. It also prevents a situation where an in-house team has nothing to do when demand is low. 

Third-party manufacturers cover the overhead and handle staffing for the following: 

  • Buying planner: Quotes and planning deliveries
  • Operations manager: Production decisions such as how to build, what the deliveries will be, and who will handle resource planning
  • Inventory management staff: Moving stock from the warehouse to your facility

A control panel vendor should improve quality control.

Certifications show that a manufacturer is experienced in the industry and understands all of the requirements you must meet before crossing the finish line. 

A contractor faces higher outside expectations in terms of standards such as ISO 9001. It’s likely to be well-versed in getting a product like yours to market in a safe manner.

Your contractor should understand the importance of maintaining safety standards and consistent quality in a final product. The UL 508A standard should be its bible. 

Other ways an industrial control panel manufacturers can add quality include:

  • The latest QC tech: Automated inspection systems, 3D scanning, and statistical process control software allow vendors to quickly ID and correct quality issues before final production.
  • Clear documentation: Vendors ensure that all process changes, test results, and quality inspections are transparent and traceable.
  • Supplier vetting: Top vendors won’t work with a component manufacturer unless they’re confident in the quality of its products and customer experience.

In short, by working with a qualified contractor, you’re more likely to avoid recalls that harm your reputation. You can also launch products on time, rather than scrambling to assess your concept after it fails UL testing.

A control panel vendor should be the expert.

If it’s not your core competency, panel building in-house probably won’t work as well as it would under the guidance of a dedicated contractor. 

Third-party engineers can grow the potential of your product line or operation, creating a custom control panel unique to your business needs. By that, we mean they can riff off your original design, recommending improvements based on decades of experience. A third-party expert can also catch flaws that might impact manufacturability, function, aesthetics, or safety.

Even if cost is your sole focus, it may be worth outsourcing for expertise reasons. Some vendors offer “cost-out” or “cost down” work, reviewing your current build and component list and looking for ways to reduce the price point:

  • Alternative parts with comparable quality, but a lower cost
  • More efficient wiring
  • Reducing square footage of panel itself

Outsourcing provides an opportunity for a more strategic focus to business – whether that’s research & development, marketing, or finding ways to become even more efficient.

Control Panel Vendors Provide Potential

Any relationship with a third-party vendor should introduce scalability and reliability to your dynamic work environment. A manufacturer that brings certifications, experience, and manpower to the table can do just that.

  • Purchasing and logistical benefits that’ll trickle down to you
  • No need for new in-house team members, machines, or facility space
  • Quality!

In an imperfect industry where you’re expected to be perfect, evaluate all of your projects and consider the strategic advantages of outsourcing.

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