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SunPower improves traceability, compliance and efficiency with Shopfloor-Online MES

 

SunPower has manufactured PV panels and solar technology for over 30 years, including the technology that powered the zero fuel airplane 'Solar Impulse 2' in 2016.

Solar panels are a long-term investment for the consumer, whether homeowners or corporations, and a 25-year Combined Power and Product Warranty is now attached to each panel sold.

Challenge: improving traceability, compliance and efficiency in an increasingly regulated and competitive market

The rising popularity and falling prices of renewable energy sources since 2005 means providers must introduce new products faster and more efficiently, across the globe.

SunPower must be able to provide power information to the consumer or installer quickly, and - in the event of a warranty claim - be able to trace issues throughout the supply chain back to the raw material, for the duration of the warranty.  To calculate import duties, the Company must know exactly the country of origin of each cell in every solar panel that leaves its premises.

SunPower had already seen the benefits of using MES software to meet traceability and compliance requirements. Increasing environmental regulations, and the build of a new factory in Ensanada, Mexico, led SunPower to leverage new opportunities offered by the combination of plant automation and MES software.

Shopfloor-OnlineTM MOM Software

SunPower redesigned its manufacturing system to combine smart equipment, improved processes, plant automation and MES software, with a goal to deliver ROI within 12-18 months.

The general objective was for the new Mexican factory to produce about 3000 high quality modules, i.e. 1 Megawatts per day, at full capacity. To achieve this, it quantified throughput, Capacity per line, Reduction in Direct Labour and Cost / Watt targets. Choosing the processes that would be automated was a crucial step, based on their cost and quality impact.

MES software now plays a central role in making plant operations smarter. It integrates with the PLCs, various devices throughout the lines and Oracle ERP, to offer scalability at minimum investment, and is easy to learn and master.

The manufacturing system has delivered on traceability and compliance requirements as well as on efficiencies.

Key Benefits

  • Data management: product management, sales, procurement and production seamlessly work together
  • Efficiency: with smart manufacturing and improved processes, SunPower can reduce direct labour and improve throughput time by about 40%
  • Conformance: all performance data for each panel is stored in the MES, from where it can be sent to distributors and installers
  • Traceability: the system provides fiull capability based on the module serial number and can track any fault all the way back to the suppliers
  • NPI: SunPower has increased agility when it comes to launching new products, with quicker changeovers and every component qualified, including the solder paste and screws

About

SunPower is a specialist in solar innovation and sustainability, headquartered in Silicon Valley with employees around the globe. Besides the Ensanada plant in Mexico, SunPower leverages the benefits of Shopfloor-Online MES at four other assembly plants.

 

"Shopfloor-Online MES empowers the machines with intelligence so they know what they have to do."

Nikhil Padhi, Project Manager
 

 
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