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PM Elektro - Growth, Efficiency and Bright Light for "Panel Builder Plus"

Panel builder PM Elektro experienced significant growth, moved to larger premises and immediately optimised internal material logistics. Supplier itsme conducted a cost-benefit analysis for this purpose and implemented a 2BIN system; it has recently started managing the grab stock in PM Elektro's warehouse. For the lighting on the new shop floor, itsme also provided consultancy and installation services. "Wow, it’s so bright in here!" is what people say when they enter the workshop.

PM Elektro in Middelburg builds panels for controllers and energy distributors. "We work for a wide range of markets; from mechanical engineering and industry to the maritime sector," says co-owner Martijn Nieuwenhuize. "Whatever the purpose, we have expertise in relevant standards and specifications for every market. We are a brand-independent panel builder using only A-quality components. In 2017, I took over the company together with my business partner Peter But. Since then, we have grown from 8 to 23 fixed employees and a flexible team of 5 to 10 temporary employees. We design and engineer the panels and build them. We are not an installer, but if necessary we can do so because we want to be a panel builder plus." 

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On-site installation of backorders

itsme supplies most of the electrical components. Nieuwenhuize: "Our relationship is based on mutual trust and good communication. We can always call them, for example if we need help with the calculations for a large quotation. We can then send them the complete list of materials and, after one or two days, a price will be generated that we can include in our calculations. This is what makes itsme unique; no other supplier does this. That’s their added value." itsme account manager Arno Capelle explains: "They get a lot of requests from their customers in all kinds of formats, sometimes unadaptable and almost unreadable. We can still do something with that and have an application in our ERP system to convert large amounts of data into quotations."

"itsme informs us, which we appreciate"

Doing calculations is one thing, being able to deliver is another. "We always have components on backorder," explains Nieuwenhuize. "That's why we install panels that are almost ready at the customer's premises. In this way, they are cleared from our floor and connections can already be made. If the final circuit breaker or relay is delivered, one of our field service engineers will install it on site. These backorders trickle in via itsme. They can't do much about it and neither can we. All that matters is that we keep customers well informed. Every week, we make a round of calls to customers with outstanding backorders.  As long as you inform them, they understand. If the customer has to make follow-up calls themselves, unpleasant conversations arise. We are only able to do this because itsme informs us, which we appreciate. We regularly receive an overview of our orders, with outstanding positions and date of expected delivery, from itsme."

Heavier energy distributors

Due to the company’s growth, PM Elektro moved last year; the space on the shop floor tripled to 1,000 m2. A great opportunity to optimise internal logistics, starting with the grab stock, which accounts for 20% of the order volume at itsme. Nieuwenhuize: "In our old warehouse, we had no overview. Because we can no longer assume that our suppliers have everything in stock, we have to keep our own stock in order." This is why PM Elektro switched to a 2BIN system on the advice of itsme. Marga van Ligten, consultant at itsme Connected Business, explains: "We did a cost-benefit analysis beforehand.

A lot of material in the grab stock turned out to be ordered manually; there was definitely cost saving potential there. Together, we created an item database, which now contains 800 items; these items are placed in bins provided with a barcode label. We have recently started dropping in regularly to scan and replenish stock." PM Elektro orders the remaining 80% of materials on a project-by-project basis. A year ago, itsme started delivering in plastic exchange crates, partly to reduce the amount of packaging material. Capelle: "We are now in talks on how to get the items from goods receipt to the mechanic on-site as efficiently as possible." Nieuwenhuize: "Again, this is itsme’s added value. We spend all day optimising this company. So it's nice to have itsme as a sounding board. They come up with something, or we do, and then we sit down to perfect it."

"It's good to have a sounding board"

Now that PM Elektro has its premises and internal logistics in order, it is ready for additional growth. Ambitions abound, assures Nieuwenhuize. "We want to contribute to the energy transition with energy distributors. We once started with small energy distributors, but we have greatly expanded our capabilities. We carry several brands and have secured product licences to build larger and heavier energy distributors. Our licences now run up to 6,300 A, for brands such as ABB, Hager, Halyester, Schneider Electric and Siemens." Capelle: "itsme has extensive agreements with those brands on logistics and other issues. Another important development is that laws and regulations increasingly require users to do energy monitoring." Nieuwenhuize: "In recent years, energy distributors have indeed become more complex, partly because of this energy monitoring. As a result, they now have a significant amount of control. We know how to keep up with these technical developments and are on top of them."

Good lighting

Lighting was also important for the new workshop, Nieuwenhuize concludes. "Mechanics must have sufficient light during their work and they need to have a clear look inside the enclosure or cabinet, without being troubled by shadows. They also need to be able to read the drawings on paper clearly; so the light should not be too bright or the wrong colour.  We are no experts in this area, so we needed specialist advice. That automatically leads back to itsme.  They came over, checked it out, made measurements, created a lighting plan and made luminance calculations." It led to a proposal from itsme Lighting Technology for Luminaid LED luminaires giving 500 lux on the ground. That was implemented and the resulting lighting was received positively. "All people entering the workshop for the first time comment on it: "Wow, it’s so bright in here!". That's great. Together with itsme, we tackled the lighting right away; I am very happy with that."


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