Significant efficiency increase thanks to ISRA's new products - now also for the solar industry
ISRA VISION: ISRA 's Camera-based inspection systems optimize production processes and increase productivity by providing simpler, faster, more precise measuring methods
The worldwide increase in energy demand and the limited supply of fossil fuels have turned the solar industry into a sector that is growing at an astonishing rate. Considering the increasing world population and the insatiable need for energy, this boom is not likely to end any time soon. The exploitation of solar energy relies among others on the use of solar parabolic mirrors, a method especially widespread in sun-rich regions. These mirrors focus the direct sunlight on receiver pipes that are filled with fluid. The thermal energy acquired from this process is then converted into electrical power using usual turbine technology. When the mirrors are produced, they must be formed in a way that the reflected sunlight strikes the liquid pipe in precisely the right spot. Consisting of standard components, the FORMSCAN system is used during the production process - in-line - to reliably measure the deviation of the mirror's angle from the defined target angle. "In terms of accuracy and evaluation speed, the camera-based system far outclasses the laser system used previously," explains Ludger Wahlers, head of the Glass Business Unit at ISRA, highlighting the advantages of ISRA's FORMSCAN system.
The multitude of differing production steps for manufacturing thin-film solar cells are highly complex, requiring full quality monitoring at all times. ISRA's camera-based POWERSCAN systems ensure that only faultless parts continue down the production line. Immediately after the basic glass is washed, POWERSCAN will reliably detect any glass defects, specific edge or structural defects. This prevents faulty material from proceeding to the subsequent costly coating processes. Right after the coating procedure, POWERSCAN will check to ensure that the coating has been performed correctly.
Normally, the solar module's edge is processed next, which in turn will be concluded by an inspection.
Additional processing steps include scribing, cutting and laminating. Each of these steps can be completed with an inspection, which will contribute significantly to the cost optimization of the thin-film modules production.
"The POWERSCAN system is so versatile that it can also be used in other sectors of the photovoltaics industry," said Wahlers. "The inspection systems increase both process reliability and productivity. The combination of fully automated inspection with 100% defect recognition and tools for process optimization maximizes the output from production plants, ensuring a competitive advantage on the global market to the clients."
ISRA VISION AG in combination with its subsidiaries is one of the top five suppliers of industrial image processing (Machine Vision) globally. Thereby the Machine Vision company concentrates on the business divisions Surface Vision, Robot Vision and Quality Vision. ISRA is the world leader in the surface inspection sector. Todays clients of the ISRA group include amongst others Daimler, KUKA, ABB, BMW, Volkswagen, General Motors, Ford, Schott, Saint Gobain, Pilkington, MAN Roland, Asahi, 3M, DuPont, Stora Enso, Weyerhaeuser, International Paper, Ahlstrom Crane ArcelorMittal, Nippon Steel, Thyssen Krupp, SeverStal and China Steel.
Operating EBT in fiscal year 2006/2007 (ending Sept. 30) was € 6.3 million (2005/2006: € 10.0 million). Total output for 2006/2007 came to € 58.6 million (2005/2006: € 53.5 million). During the past ten years, ISRA has been able to increase its total output by close to 31% per year on average, while EBT grew by an average 36% per year. The ISRA group is acting worldwide with approx. 400 employees at 16 locations in the regions Europe, Americas and Asia.
ISRA uses digital image processing technology for the optical inspection of endless web materials (such as glass, film, nonwoven, paper and metal) and for robot guidance tasks in the context of automated production and packaging. According to expert estimates, at present only some 25% of possible applications have been exploited. Currently the global market volume comes to some € 6.5 billion. Annual growth rates world-wide are currently estimated at 7%.