When executing a project with electrical controls, is it best to engage a specialist switchboard builder or should you leave the board building to your electrical installation contractor? There’s arguments for both sides, but in most cases it’s best to use a dedicated board builder. Here are a few points to back this up.
A well-established switchboard builder has spent many years developing systems and processes throughout their business with one key objective: to produce switchboards of the highest quality, efficiency and consistency possible. In comparison, an industrial electrician is an expert on the field, but generally will not have the attention to detail and tight control of internal production processes that a specialised manufacturer will. For example, a switchboard builder will have invested a lot in a well-run ERP system to efficiently execute and manage the myriad of details and resources involved in a quality board build.
Industrial electricians are generally very proficient with electrical installation, but very few have any formal training or experience in switchboard building or electrical engineering. Equipment manufacturers can benefit from the expertise and engineering know-how of a dedicated switchboard builder, ensuring both switchboards and installation are to the highest possible standard. Any reputable switchboard builder will have multiple electrical engineers on staff.
A dedicated switchboard builder generally has a sizeable factory with staff directly employed to wire up switchboards. Particularly for equipment suppliers who execute multiple projects concurrently, a board builder can deliver boards faster and more consistently compared to an electrician who is only working part time on switchboard building in a smaller facility.
A good switchboard or control panel building contractor will provide a full set of CAD drawings for the electrical controls in the project. These enable your install contractor to easily install without any wiring hassles or guesswork. Once the project is complete, you have the drawings in hand and can engage any electrician to assist with modifications or troubleshooting in the future.
Very few industrial electricans are proficient in PLC programming. If they are, they will mostly stick to the 1 or 2 brands that they have used previously. Obviously the other downfall of your electrician is when he is doing programming, he can’t be designing or building your board, which extends the leadtime. A competent switchboard builder will have engineers experienced in a wide range of PLC & HMI brands, giving you much better flexibility, and the programming will be done as a parallel process to the manufacture of the board, meaning a much shorter leadtime.
Any good switchboard builder will keep up-to-date with changing technologies and equipment in the electrical switchboard industry. By utilising a switchboard builder to build your boards, you’re ensuring an up-to-date end result that complies with all current Australian standards and requirements.
An often overlooked advantage to using a larger switchboard building company is the financial benefits. A good switchboard builder won’t require any deposit, and will offer 30 days payment terms subject to account approval. Financial hassles can be minimised by dealing with an established and financially stable switchboard manufacturer.