Automation in PV Manufacturing
The ultimate goal of PV manufacturing is to produce the highest quality of solar cells at the lowest possible cost. Translated into manufacturing requirements, this means that throughput, equipment uptime and yield must be continuously increased in a manufacturing environment while improvements and subsequent generations of products are implemented in parallel. Automation is a key element in understanding the relevant process behaviour, monitoring and controlling the process windows, ensuring stable processes, achieving the necessary product quality at all times, guaranteeing error-free production and promptly detecting any anomalies. Collecting and evaluating all of the applicable data, and controlling equipment performance with a high degree of complexity, rank among the challenges of automation. The general objective of automation is to move the right material at the right time to the right place and process it correctly – while controlling all of these steps in real time. The ability to do this in a reliable, predictable and flexible manner has a direct impact on factory performance. In this paper, the main components of automation will be described, and some ROI examples will be discussed for a PV manufacturing line.