OD Precision measures bend of finished solar cells

After metallization of the solar cells, they are “baked” in a firing furnace to conserve the properties achieved in the production process. In this process the solar cells bend significantly. The layer of aluminum on the back of the cell and the silicon have a different thermal expansion coefficient. This means that the cell bends significantly during the production process when it is heated to approximately 700 °C in the firing process. It is therefore cooled down to approx. – 70 °C to make it flat again. The exposure time to both temperatures is critical to control the planarity of the cell.

It is important that the finished cell is planar, because it is pressed against flat glass during the lamination process. The process bend is therefore typically checked after the cells have been in the firing furnace, where the bend of the finished cell is greatest.

OD Precision sensors (displacement) are used to measure the bend of finished solar cells immediately after the “baking” in the firing furnace where bend is greatest.

Product recommendations
OD Precision: OD5-30T05, together with amplifier unit: AOD5-P/N1, quantities: 3 sensor heads and 1 amplifier unit.

Reliable measuring of bend early on in the process reduces the breakage rate in later processes, especially when the cells are pressed against a flat glass in the following lamination process. This ensures higher quality to the customer, as tension in the cells on the finished module is avoided, which reduces on-site breakage of cells.

This is an application from SICK.
Tri-Phase Automation is a SICK distributor in Wisconsin.
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Exlar’s 1 Series Used in Haas-Mondomix Food Processing

Haas-Mondomix, Netherlands is a leader in the food processing business, especially in aeration related equipment such as bakeries, dairy and confectionery products. The XYZ Depositor from Haas-Mondomix is designed to deposit products in several deviations and forms and is ideal for high capacity production and reliable deposit weight control. This allows producing several types of foam and sizes. In the past Haas was building XZ depositors to make 2D movements, consisting of a complex mechanical construction. With their unique approach to innovation and the use of Exlar’s products, Haas-Mondomix created 3D movements providing the speed and stability the application required.

Exlar’s I Series roller screw actuator was chosen for this application to accommodate the high load. With a quick stroke rate, the load was moved and positioned vertically in the machine at the required speed. The high dynamic load rating of the roller screw actuator measured 2x greater than a comparable ball screw and the life is nearly 10x higher. Exlar’s roller screw actuator was the perfect match for this high duty application!

The Exlar Linear Actuator Advantage with Planetary Roller Screw Technology:

  • Millions of cycles without re-lubrication or maintenance
  • Roller screws offer up to 15 times longer life than ball screws
  • Less noise than other motion technologies • Smooth motion
  • Less energy consumption than fluid power with electric actuation
  • Accurate and repeatable positioning
  • Wide variety of mounting styles
  • High cycle rates
  • Multiple stroke lengths

This is a application success story from Exlar.

Tri-Phase Automation is a distributor of Exlar in Wisconsin.
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High-volume Competitive Inspection for Solar Panel Production

Gorosabel in Spain needed a solution to inspect its fragile solar cell panels. The company needed a powerful vision solution that could handle high-speed production while performing different inspection tasks while ensuring that the delicate product remained intact. In-Sight® vision systems from Cognex are now performing the inspection task ensuring zero fault production.

Gorosabel S.A. was created in 1957 and, with its extensive experience in machine tool automation, set up the Gorosabel Solar Energy division for renewable energy applications at the end of the 1990s. Their expanded product range now includes measuring instruments, integrated solutions for photovoltaic and thermal module production chains, installation engineering, and handling solutions and production accessories. With over 50 professionals and 3,500 m² of facilities at its disposal, the company has extensive experience plus the ability to develop and respond to new technologies.

The challenge—cell alignment.  The company ran up against a particular difficulty, in that solar cells are fragile and hard to position mechanically. The wide variety of cells makes this positioning even more complicated. Solar cell production is relatively expensive and, given the high level of automation and large volumes involved, quality is a decisive factor in obtaining a competitive advantage. Consistently positive results when implementing machine vision systems in the past encouraged further adoption when faced with the alignment challenge. In addition to centering the solar cell properly, the new system could also perform defect checks, such as inspecting for broken edges or cracks, verifying dimensions, further positioning in relation to the edges, etc.

The best vision system for the task Gorosabel consulted with Ikusmen, a Cognex partner systems integrator in northern Spain, and found a suitable solution using Cognex In-Sight vision systems. To solve the problem, the Cognex In-Sight camera is positioned in order to inform the robot of the cell position and to inspect its condition once in the field of view. The camera calculates the cell’s position and orientation and transmits the data to a robot, which then positions it correctly by the rear weld-on TAB. Moreover, if it detects any defects, it notifies the robot so that it can reject the cell.

This is an Cognex application success story.

Tri-Phase Automation is a Cognex distributor in Wisconsin. We offer machine vision evaluations and technical support to help our customers solve their applications. Contact Tri-Phase Sales or Get A Quote

SoftPLC Produces a BioMass of Power

SoftPLC handles biomass electric power plant

In Northern California, SoftPLC controllers, Tealware I/O and Web Studio are used by Blue Lake Power in their biomass electric power plant. The plant was originally a coal-fired plant that has been converted to burn woody waste. It uses wood chips as its mains fuel source for a conventional boiler which powers a steam-turbine generator.

Four SoftPLC’s are used for material handling, for both the input fuel and the ash by-product conveyors, and for all of the process control. Hardbook CPU’s with remote Tealware I/O connected via Ethernet are used for all the systems. Web Studio is used for the plant SCADA system which includes a redundant server, several desktop client stations and two large LCD displays in the control room. Web Studio is also used as the HMI running on portable tablet PC’s by the maintenance crew.

The Blue Lake plant adds over 93,000 MWh of renewable power to California’s grid and provides significant economic and environmental benefits for the city of Blue Lake and the state of California. The plant’s fuel procurement plan improves forest health, reduces hazardous fuels, and provides stability to the woods industry and local communities.

This application success story is from SoftPLC
Tri-Phase Automation is a SoftPLC distributor in Wisconsin.
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Detection of wafers

When producing wafers, the individual layers must be correctly positioned for further processing. Depending on the layer, the wafers have different, sometimes high-gloss surfaces. Thanks to the TwinEye-Technology® and high grayscale resolution, KTS and KTX  detection of all different types of wafer surfaces is not only reliable, but teach-in is also quick and easy.

Product: KTS and KTX family of contrast sensors

This is an application from SICK.
Tri-Phase Automation is a SICK distributor in Wisconsin.
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Fiducials Alignment in Electronics and Solar Industry

An easy vision solution that solves precise positioning applications

Screen printing machines for PCBs and solar cells need accurate positioning. Realignment is required each time the screen is replaced. On the screen, reference markers known as “fiducials” allow fine alignment with the cell/board. The fiducials are typically white circular dots with a 3-5 mm diameter. The position result should be communicated to the PLC in an Ethernet-based protocol. The solution should be easy to install, use and maintain, and should not require vision expertise.

Inspector from SICK is an intelligent vision solution in an easy-to-use sensor package.  No programming is needed; just parameter setting of the predefined tasks. No vision expertise is required to setup the system. In any vision application the key is to get top-quality images. The screens present particular challenges. They are made of shiny metal. Reflections on the surface can appear like fiducials, causing false readings. SICK’s unique dome light is the solution to this challenge. It can be directly mounted on the Inspector to provide even light on the surface, free of unwanted reflections. Having an excellent image to work with, the powerful positioning algorithms in the Inspector can solve the application. The software tools can repeatability locate the fiducial below 5µm in a typical 10 x 10 mm field of view. The Inspector comes with comprehensive functions for production control, including image viewing, recording, and off-line support. Easy integration with the screen printer control system will ensure a flexible and fast screen replacement process, improving production yield and quality.

This is an application from SICK.
Tri-Phase Automation is a SICK distributor in Wisconsin.
Contact Tri-Phase Sales or Get A Quote

Solar wafer alignment and damage detection

Solar wafer alignment and damage detection

An easy vision solution that solves both detailed inspection and precise positioning applications.

Wafer positioning and breakage detection are critical applications in the solar cell production process. To reduce cost and compete with traditional energy sources, the solar industry continually increases production speed and reduces wafer thickness. Vision systems are critical components in the high-speed production of brittle wafers. Wafer breakage can happen at any stage along the production process. Defects should be detected early. Wafer fragments on the production line often cause the subsequent breakage of good wafers.

Application Solution
The Inspector is an intelligent vision solution in an easy-to-use sensor package. No programming is needed, just some parameter setting of predefined tasks. No vision expertise is required to setup the system. The Inspector also includes a calibration feature that corrects lens and perspective distortion. It transforms the pixel coordinates into ready-to-use metric values. Calibration greatly simplifies commissioning and perspective correction allows greater flexibility in the camera placement. Having corrected image to work with the Inspector elegantly solves the application. A special version of the Inspector has been developed for the solar cell industry. There are special algorithms for the solar cell environment providing unmatched positioning accuracy and chip size detection in its category. The Inspector comes with comprehensive functions for production control, including image viewing, recording and off-line support. The Ethernet interface provides easy integration with the tool controls.

This is an application from SICK.
Tri-Phase Automation is a SICK distributor in Wisconsin.
Contact Tri-Phase Sales or Get A Quote

Position control of solar fields in harsh environments

Solar fields are automatically adapted to the sun’s position in a large solar park by means of SICK encoders. Inductive proximity sensors from SICK also prevent the moving mechanism from overrunning in the end positions.

The EAR Group is a significant provider of ready-to-use photovoltaic systems in Italy. One of the plants that the company built on 30,000 m² in Cerbera, Italy, consists of 93 solar fields, with 33 solar panels each. Inverters convert the direct current generated on-site into alternating current. The overall performance of the plant is 700 kWp. The fields were designed so that they automatically follow the sun. This results in substantially greater energy efficiency than with rigid fields. The movement is controlled by so-called trackers, in each of which two precision drives work: one aligns the solar field to the vertical position of the sun, and the other adapts the field according to the horizontal movement of the sun. Monitoring these two movements requires a solution that works reliably even under harsh environmental conditions. In addition, the trackers should be able to align the solar fields so that they can receive the maximum sunlight in both summer and winter.

Application Solution
The EAR Group found the ideal solution for the detection of the angular change of the solar fields in the DFS60 incremental encoders with through hollow shaft. The sensor has a very high resolution, enabling precise adjustment of the solar fields. The very compact, integration-friendly design and the robustness in outdoor applications were also convincing. Features such as the metal code disk, the double shaft bearing, the housing’s high enclosure rating, and the water-resistant cable outlet make the sensor a solution that guarantees maximum availability in any weather and at temperatures between −20°C and +100°C.

More efficiency by adapting the solar fields

This is an application from SICK.
Tri-Phase Automation is a SICK distributor in Wisconsin.
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Advantech: Remote Monitoring System in Wind Power Generation

The Advantech UNO-2170 was used as a rugged remote monitoring system, interfaced with several different vendor products to provide feedback to the Energy Management center through Ethernet.

Wind power generation systems are always installed in very harsh environments with extreme temperatures (for example, offshore environments might be below -10°C), with an abundance of dust and vibration. Under these circumstances, applying an IPC with a fan as the host platform will result in reliability problems and system crashes. One of our customers aimed to design a reliable power generation monitoring system, and they were looking for a compact platform that could be easily installed to replace their traditional IPC system.

The wind power generation monitoring system is a dedicated application based on Windows 2000/XP. It needed a high performance platform rather than a general platform for Windows CE. Equipped with an Intel Celeron M 600 MHz or Celeron M 1.0 GHz CPU and Onboard 512 KB battery-backup SRAM, UNO-2170 is a powerful model that provides Windows CE 5.0 & 6.0, Windows XP Embedded, and Linux ready solutions.

This application success story is from Advantech
Tri-Phase Automation is an Advantech distributor in Wisconsin.
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