09 July 2012
Building open area solar parks is mostly manual work. Identical processes are repeated hundreds of thousands of times, so PV-Kraftwerker has been looking into automation options for some time. At the Intersolar North America 2012 exhibition this week 10-12 July at the Moscone Centre (West hall, level 1, booth 7323) in San Francisco, California, US, the company will present "Momo" for the first time in the US.
Momo, the mobile assembly robot, can tackle the whole building process. It is particularly suitable for large-area assemblies, where installers face difficult terrain and have to cover large distances. The robot moves to the designated site, supplied with all the necessary photovoltaic (PV) modules, assembles the PV unit and moves on to the next one. Listing the benefits, Eberhard Schulz, managing director of PV-Kraftwerker Ltd., based in Germany, says, "with Momo, hardly any modules suffer breakages, programming eliminates assembly errors and fitters no longer suffer from assembly-related injuries." He believes that this should equate to an 80% improvement in efficiency. Maintenance and cleaning work, as well as system removal, could be carried out in similar fashion.
The gripper system, equipped with sensors, enables the fully automated assembly of modules on substructures in any terrain. A three-dimensional (3D) camera, mounted on the gripper or a support tool, captures the complete assembly process of the modules and adjusts any deviation from the defined standard with millimetre accuracy. They may originate from inaccurately drilled holes in the framework or slightly offset substructures in open terrain, for example, on difficult ground. Highlighting the level of skill and product knowledge incorporated in this development, Schulz maintains, "Momo can cope with tricky terrain and gradients with great accuracy."
Special interface software converts the data captured by the sensors into coordinates which Momo interprets. Gripper and camera are coordinated with each other, so that they quickly and reliably capture the position on the substructures, enabling accurate assembly of each module. Subject to the size of a PV power generator, this process may be repeated 100,000 times. In the course of the work, the assembly robot can cover up to 70 kilometres (~43 miles) per assembly. When removing a PV power generator, the assembly system operates in reverse order. This enables modules to be reused because they will be protected from damage. In addition, this unique solution from PV-Kraftwerker enables assembly around the clock, regardless of weather conditions.
Momo had its world premiere at Intersolar Europe 2012 in Munich, Germany a few weeks ago. More than 2000 people visited the PV-Kraftwerker booth during the three days of the exhibition. The success was overwhelming. Momo will have its open-air ground tests at the end of this summer. Schulz is optimistic that after passing the tests, Momo will be ready for series production in 2013.