Delivering Smart Solar with High-Velocity Manufacturing

January 3, 2017
January 3, 2017 TerraSmart

Racking Maverick Uses High-Velocity Manufacturing for Faster, More Economical Solar

Solar is all about speed. How quickly manufacturers deliver products and developers deploy systems has a direct impact on the bottom line for project investors seeking the lowest levelized cost of energy (LCOE) and the highest returns.

Getting utility-scale solar online as quickly and cost-effectively as possible drives all aspects of deployment. So EPCs and developers are turning to practices in system construction that lower component cost, eliminate waste and streamline construction without compromising on quality.

Similarly, solar component manufacturers across the value chain from silicon to racking are driving cost out of fabrication to shorten production times.  Manufacturing processes like automated and high-velocity fabrication are a big part of that effort. Leaders in solar racking systems are applying high-velocity manufacturing (HVM) techniques to metal forming to improve performance, eliminate waste and reduce cost.

At first blush, it might sound as if HVM merely automates the manufacturing process with robots and computers to improve manufacturing. But HVM is far more complex than that.

As an advanced manufacturing technique, HVM plays an important role in metal formation. It adds extreme precision and increases production speed, streamlining old-style methods conventionally applied to metal treatments like extrusion, die-forging, punching and joining.

HVM works at top speed. Metal can be shaped in micro-seconds rather than minutes. And because it reduces parts manufacturing down to a single step, HVM speeds-up overall production time. HVM, experts say, it cuts the standard 26-week process to go from tooling design to full utilization down to just three weeks – and that’s a critical acceleration when managing lead time for solar components.

Time is money. HVM in solar cuts tooling costs 90 percent, needs a mere one-tenth of traditional factory floor space and expends 99 percent less energy than traditional metal formation processes require. Less equipment and lower processing costs means more competitively-priced, high-quality products.

TerraSmart’s HVM Facility in Columbus, Ohio

Quality is Key

Solar racking’s top gun uses HVM. When explosive demand for superior racks caused TerraSmart to outgrow its original manufacturing plant, the company knew it had to stay ahead of the technology curve. Looking at current practices in solar racking, the maverick realized the industry had been missing the opportunities inherent to high-velocity manufacturing, such as streamlining production, boosting quality and lowering costs for customers. Such promise with so little risk made HVM a perfect fit with the company’s culture of innovation.

So TerraSmart got ready to accelerate. It deployed high-velocity manufacturing techniques at a newly-renovated 70,000-square-foot facility in Columbus, Ohio equipped with next-generation manufacturing tools to increase throughput and shorten lead times. Highly automated in-house processing lines began to churn out the company’s intuitive solar racks faster and at a competitive price. And because materials produced with HVM are top quality, TerraSmart continues to fly high with exceptional racking and customer service.

Rapid volume production lets TerraSmart live up to its mission of “Faster, Smarter, Better” solar:

  • In Time When Needed: The company’s ability to manufacture TerraSmart racking whenever needed helps EPCs stick to tight construction timelines
  • Built to Last: TerraSmart’s vertical integration means it has control of its supply chain, enhancing transparency and guaranteeing quality
  • Lower Cost: U.S.-built racks mean faster delivery and lower shipping and handling costs
  • Fewer Risks: Because TerraSmart flies solo with its vertical integration, promises made are promises kept. And that makes us a dependable, long-term partner
  • Added Flexibility: Changes in project scope are no issue. With fast turn-around, TerraSmart racks are on site when needed, ensuring that workers are never waiting for product on site

 

TerraSmart’s HVM Facility

 

Nimble manufacturing and on-time deliveries mean the sky is the limit with TerraSmart. We break the sound barrier and compress time in everything we do. And while velocity in manufacturing is critical, customers benefit from many other aspects where we also deliver the need for speed.

Our racks are designed with fewer parts and greater slope tolerances so that they are quick and easy to deploy on any terrain. Our turnkey installation service provides a seamless transition from design to deployment so that customers can bring new plants online faster. Our new aerial mapping drones have us ready for take-off, streamlining site topography for faster and more profitable solar. In everything we do, TerraSmart is your wingman to help you generate clean energy and revenue fast.

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