Automation & Control Systems

Automation and Control Systems: Revolutionizing Panel Building Processes with Rittal and Eplan

Snapshot: A full-service control systems integrator and panel builder won new opportunities with transformative engineering software and automated processes.


Automation and Control Systems (ACS), under the leadership of President Clay McNutt, has emerged as a distinguished full-service control systems integrator headquartered in Baldwin, Mississippi. Specializing in UL 508A panel building solutions, programming, and control system development, ACS encountered a common industry challenge – the scarcity of skilled labor. In an effort to scale and grow their business efficiently without significant workforce expansion, ACS sought the assistance of Rittal and Eplan and redefined their approach to panel building with automation.

The Challenge

ACS faced two significant challenges: a significant skilled labor shortage and the need to grow the panel shop without burdening payroll. If ACS could take the labor they already had and apply it in a new way to prevent increased headcount while improving productivity and efficiency, they could effectively scale their business to meet customer demands.

The Rittal Solution

Rittal stepped in to provide three distinct Rittal Automation Systems (RAS) solutions to make scaling and growth possible for ACS. The Perforex MT machine played a transformative role in the milling and tap drilling of back plate panels; the Secarex AC18 machine assisted heavily with cutting wire ducts and din rail; and the Wire Terminal WT machine ensured highly efficient wire processing and cutting that sliced wiring times by up to one tenth.

McNutt explained the significance of labor efficiency with the Perforex, stating, "The Perforex coupled with all the RAS equipment allows one person to complete two to three tasks at the same time."

Eplan Integration

The integration of Eplan into ACS's workflow was pivotal to ACS’ automation strategy as it synergized the RAS machines with engineering data for maximum efficiency and quality. By employing smart wiring and 3D design, Eplan software could unveil potential errors early in the panel building process.

McNutt emphasized the value this brought to ACS’ business, stating, "It allows everything to be designed in 3D so that we can see errors. When you're doing typical panel building, there may be collisions that you're not aware of until you've already built a backplate.”

This advanced design capability minimized the risk of costly collisions during the physical assembly of panels to enhanced the efficiency of the design process while ensuring a higher degree of accuracy, thus setting a new standard for ACS's panel building endeavors.

Measurable Results

This strategic adoption of automation not only addressed the skilled labor shortage but also provided ACS with the flexibility to leverage their existing workforce for multiple projects concurrently, resulting in a substantial reduction of up to 75% in labor costs per panel. By taking a visionary approach to automation, ACS was able to achieve scalability without the constraints of traditional manual processes.

Unlocking Opportunities:

The adoption of Perforex, Secarex, and Wiring Terminal automated solutions, as well as Eplan engineering software, positioned ACS to explore and secure projects that were previously considered unattainable.

McNutt provided insight into how these technologies became prerequisites for landing contracts with companies requiring automated wire processing and design due to the sheer volume of work. "We've landed two customers in the last eight months that we could not have landed otherwise without the automation," McNutt highlighted.

Enhanced Workflow, Efficiency, and Quality:

The transition to Rittal's advanced technologies had a prfound impact on ACS's workflow, enabling the accomplishment of more work in less time while maintaining high-quality standards. By integrating Eplan software with the three RAS machines, ACS easily streamlined their operations, significantly reduced the margin for errors, and ensured a higher quality end result.

McNutt emphasized the transformative effect, stating, "It’s a better overall workflow than the process we had before Rittal and Eplan. We're able to do more work in less time and of higher quality."

The elimination of manual processes allowed for a standardized and consistent approach, enhancing the quality of their panel building projects.

Sustainable Growth and Return on Investment:

The strategic investment in Rittal's technologies not only addressed immediate challenges but also positioned ACS for sustainable growth. The integration of software and RAS machines facilitated a doubling of panel shop sales within a year for ACS while the adoption of automated processes resulted in an efficient allocation of resources, thus ensuring that ACS could handle increased production demands without compromising on quality. McNutt projected a compelling ROI, estimating that it would be less than a year to recoup the investment.


The collaboration between ACS, Rittal, and Eplan exemplifies how embracing an innovative value chain can redefine the landscape of panel building.

To characterize the value Rittal and Eplan provided as partners, McNutt stated, "RAS and Eplan allow us to do work that we otherwise couldn't complete and at levels that were not previously possible."

This strategic integration of systems solved pressing immediate challenges while also setting up ACS for future success by unlocking new opportunities with customers that were otherwise unavailable. McNutt emphasized the invaluable nature of the partnership, describing Rittal and Eplan not merely as providers, but as a collaborative force always ready to assist during challenges. According to McNutt, the RAS systems with Eplan have added tremendous value to ACS by exponentially increasing output and decreasing input.

To other shops similar to ACS on the fence about working with Rittal and Eplan, McNutt stated, "There's nothing else like it to my knowledge; no one else offers the total value chain like Rittal and Eplan."

McNutt describes the partnership as a paradigm shift for ACS. With tangible benefits such as significant reductions in labor costs, enhanced operational efficiency, and the ability to undertake projects that were once deemed unattainable, ACS can move confidently into the future with scaled operations.

Contact Rittal Today if Your Business Requires an Automation Upgrade

If your business could use an upgrade via smart automation and streamlined processes, simply contact Rittal today to get started. Rittal experts are on standby to listen to your unique production challenges and provide comprehensive solutions that can open new doors. Reach out to us and let us revolutionize your automated processes and position your company for growth and lasting success.