24 March 2010


HelioVolt using GE’s Proficy software at new CIGS PV panel plant

GE Intelligent Platforms of Charlottesville, VA, USA says that its Proficy Software suite has been implemented in the new thin-film copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) photovioltaic module manufacturing plant of HelioVolt Corp of Austin, TX.

GE says that its software was chosen to increase plant yield and throughput, while meeting strict control and traceability requirements. HelioVolt should be able to achieve a rapid return on its investment and gain immediate visibility into its manufacturing processes.

HelioVolt is producing thin-film solar PV modules for commercial rooftop, utility-scale ground-mount, residential, building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) and custom installations. It claims to be the first thin-film firm combining high-efficiency products with low-cost manufacturing capabilities to create a new generation of CIGS-based solar modules.

“Our automated and fully integrated manufacturing process, from substrate to final module assembly & test, allows us to reach high manufacturing efficiencies and low costs more rapidly than other competing technologies,” claims Iga Hallberg, VP of business development. “The Proficy solution can help us to keep plant yield and throughput high, as well as ensure quality. Ultimately, this will lead to better and more cost-effective solar modules.”

Founded in 2001 but only opening its first (20MW) commercial production line in October 2008, HelioVolt needed a solution that can easily be replicated to new plants, but it also needed to scale data storage for up to 30 years to satisfy warranty requirements, says GE. In addition, high-volume manufacturing was a necessity to drive cost down while maintaining quality.

“HelioVolt had some tight project deadlines to meet to satisfy their investors, so only a turnkey solution supported by rapid implementation services would work for them,” says Erik Udstuen, GE's VP of Software and Services. “Proficy offers a complete lean manufacturing solution that provides the flexibility to add equipment and optimized work processes as HelioVolt scales its business,” he adds.

HelioVolt’s software system consists of five core elements of the Proficy suite, providing robust redundancy, enhanced data security, reliable information and increased control of all aspects of operations through access to critical data. By delivering web-based visualization and real-time analytics, operators can increase efficiency and optimize production processes in real-time, resulting in reduced costs and increased profitability, says GE Intelligent Platforms.

“GE’s experience in manufacturing as well as the company’s ability to get a complete system up and running in a short time frame were key,” concludes Hallberg.

Search: HelioVolt CIGS