We specialize in manufacturing configurable, volume OEM control panels.

Cates designs and manufactures volume Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) control panels for the industrial market. We specialize in building volume panels with variable configurations. As UL 508A and UL 698A certified panel builders with over 40 years of experience, we build quality panels at a competitive price and deliver them according to the promised schedule. If designing and manufacturing control panels is not one of your firm’s core competencies, consider outsourcing it to Cates!

Process of Quality for Every Panel

Cates Quality Management System

In order to ensure quality in every industrial control panel when manufacturing high-volume orders, Cates has spent years customizing a process tailored to our workflow.

  • We maintain a Quality Management System (QMS) with procedures for each step of our process
  • Procedures account for differences in OEM volume panel processing
  • Our QMS is housed on a custom-developed website tool that features a Quality Tracker

Cates Quality Policy

  • Cates is committed to providing the highest level of products, services, and solutions to our customers
  • Our principled company culture provides the framework for excellent customer service and continuous improvement in everything we do
  • It is the responsibility of every Cates employee to be aware of these principles and to do their best to adhere to them at all times

Process of Quality for Every Panel

Document Control

  • Customized inspection checklists that focus on key design characteristics
  • Detailed work instructions serve as visual guides for each step of the assembly process
  • Documented traceability for batch processing
  • In-process inspection ensures quality at critical points of the assembly process
  • Pictures of as-built assemblies for every batch
  • Scanned build paperwork saved for each batch of panels assembled

Cates Learning Management System

  • All technicians are qualified to work each OEM assembly 
  • Qualification involves a review of the unique work instruction and successful completion of a quiz to measure understanding
  • Each employee’s certifications are assigned and tracked via Paylocity HR software
  • Customized training courses can be created quickly and efficiently for distribution to assigned technician groups 

Continuous Improvement Culture

Internal Audits

Cates has a longstanding culture of continuous improvement; it is one of the principles upon which the company was founded in 1978 and still guides us today.

  • Employees continually strive to improve by checking themselves and making corrections as needed via our internal audit policy
  • Audits are logged, tracked, and followed up by the Quality Tracker on our custom QMS website tool
  • Since 2019, our leadership has met twice monthly to review the status of audits and corrective actions
  • The schedule for internal audits is reviewed and assigned on a quarterly basis

Nonconformance Handling

We’ve implemented a full system to handle nonconformance, including logs that provide full traceability to find a problem and track the implementation of the solution.

  • The system includes a company-wide website tool that tracks non-conformance handling
  • Any employee can submit non-conformance items
  • The tool allows corrective actions to be delegated to a person in the appropriate group
  • Automatic tracking ensures corrective actions are logged, completed, and tested to ensure the root cause was fixed
  • A written Corrective Action policy for nonconformances to customer specifications and documented internal processes is on the website and used for every project

Risk Management

Quoting Method

  • We reduce risk on the front end by using custom quoting software developed specifically for our process
  • The software uses a uniform estimating method, allowing reuse of configurations and providing consistent output

Job Review

  • After each order has shipped, Cates reviews the job hardware, labor, and performance KPIs
  • We use job feedback and improvement opportunities highlighted by the software to continuously fine-tune the process and minimize risk

Strategic Sourcing

  • Risk mitigation in the event of a disaster
  • Options for increasing production volume
  • Competition promotes optimal pricing and performance
  • Quality control and comparison
  • Vendor performance measurement

UL 508A/698A Knowledge

  • Cates has extensive knowledge and years of experience in understanding and complying with UL standards
  • This helps us identify and address any possible design or safety risks in customer panels – and facilitate UL involvement if necessary to obtain clarification or input
  • UL 508A/698A Certified facilities with numerous Certified Manufacturer’s Technical Representatives (MTR)

Operational Efficiency

Lean Manufacturing

  • Cell-based assembly ensures quality and consistency
  • Modular facility with stations on wheels for rapid reconfiguration
  • Process efficiencies and savings yield faster fulfillment, lower prices
  • Wire processing equipment, custom test stands improve accuracy, quality, & delivery
Lean tool cart with yellow wire spool on side

Volume with Variable Configurations

  • We can produce exact multiples of the same design or variations on each
  • Every OEM control panel is identical – down to the wiring route
  • We currently ship one customer 130 panels with 50 variations monthly

Planning and Communication

Capacity Planning

  • For production scheduling, we use I-PReP software – custom-designed for our process
  • Stations are available in every Cates production department for quick access
  • I-PReP provides a focused view of tasks for specific departments
  • Part status is accessible at any time, commented with the latest purchasing updates
  • I-PReP feeds our production capacity calculation tool for real-time and projected capacity feedback
  • Capacity Planner allows the flexibility to simulate jobs for better customer communication and preparation

Customer Communication

  • Application Engineers on staff to address and communicate technical issues quickly and effectively
  • Customer Service Representatives are assigned to OEM accounts for steady, consistent order updates
  • Separate OEM and Custom supervisors ensure that focus and capacity are clear for each production department

Cates Performance

We know our performance is critical to your business, so we constantly assess, report, and request customer feedback to help us continuously improve.


  • Quality Control
  • Analysis of Key Performance Indicators (KPI)
  • Custom reports to fit your needs


  • Value Innovation workshops & Kaizen events
  • Employee suggestion program
  • Ongoing customer feedback

Cost Management and Value Innovation

Quarterly Lean Workshops

  • We do Lean workshops with OEM Customers
  • Review parts, processes, designs, vendors, technologies, price points
  • Brainstorm opportunities to design cost savings into OEM panels

How Value Innovation Works

  • Allows differentiation by delivering superior value at low cost
  • Reduces traditional costs by eliminating or reducing factors on which an industry competes
  • Increases buyer value by raising and creating elements the customer has never realized

Tell Us About Your Manufacturing Needs

Information Request

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Talk to Our Experts

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