David Genova, Rudolph Technologies, discusses process control software in solar photovoltaics manufacturing. The benefits of improved operations and competitiveness can be acheived, but some fabs will need to put in some IT work.
July 19, 2011 — David Genova, Rudolph Technologies, discusses process control software in solar photovoltaics manufacturing. As photovoltaics fabs get bigger, expertise from the semiconductor industry is helping them scale up in the same way that semiconductor fabs have. Process control can help large solar manufacturers compete on operational excellence, not just economies of scale. Genova speaks at Intersolar North America 2011.
Process control software can benefit silicon solar cell fabricators the most in the silicon photovoltaics ecosystem. Process control helps cell makers identify root causes of defects faster, prompting adjustments sooner. The data collected at ingot and cell fabrication can then be passed on to the module fab for additional benefits (Vertically integrated manufacturers take note).
The biggest challenge in process control is data collection itself, says Genova, due to multiple lines and tools mixing new and old equipment and custom adaptations. Getting data from all these systems into process control and MES environments can be a chore for IT, but it’s worth it, he adds.