Gehrlicher logistics system boosts thin film installation

Efforts to raise the efficiency of thin film are not confined to the research lab - the focus has also shifted towards refining manufacturing and installation processes.

Day two of the 3rd Thin Film Solar Summit Europe (March 3-4, Berlin) will take a detailed look at the issues related to competitiveness and efficiency for the industry. Participating in the debate will be Gehrlicher Solar AG, who responded to the challenges facing the thin film market by developing a unique logistics and assembly system. The integrated system covers the full logistics chain starting with the transport of the modules from the manufacturing site up to mounting the modules onto the support structure of the ground-mounted PV installation.

In the first comprehensive field test, an assembly robot developed by Gehrlicher Solar AG mounted 450 of the world's largest photovoltaic modules (ENN EST-480 type) at the Solar Park in Sprotta, Germany, in December 2010. CEO Klaus Gehrlicher is pleased by the successful real-life production test: "Our Sprotta results validate our decision to pursue innovations in the speed and cost efficiency of installing large size, frameless panels. The future trend for the economically viable construction of solar power plants clearly goes towards automation and standardisation."

In December 2010, the complete system was employed on a large scale for the first time. The modules arrived inside specially designed transport cassettes at the installation side. The tracked "Gehrlicher Assembly Robot", nicknamed internally "Robby", lifts them out of the transport cassette and places them onto the support structure with the help of a robotic swivel arm. Gehrtec backrails, pre-attached to the back side of the module, slide into the carrier rail that is attached to the support structure. Gravity slides the large module into its final position.

Dr. Anton Nbauer, Director of Research and Development at Gehrlicher, is responsible for this award winning system (Intersolar Award 2010). Dr. Nbauer will moderate a panel discussion at the 3rd Thin Film Summit on March 4th. The topic will be how thin film module technology can increase its competitiveness in the PV industry relative to crystalline silicon. Other notable technical sessions come from Bosch - "Differentiating standardised equipment", Kaneka - "Higher efficiency and lower cost - are the two mutually compatible?" and EMPA - "CIGS - efficiency records and realising the potential".

More details can be found here: or contact Matt Carr on +44 (0) 207 375 7248 or

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