Thin film fab automation contracts awarded to Schiller

Schiller Automation won contracts for its BackBone glass handling system and high-speed ProLoad stations for thin-film photovoltaics manufacturing. The contracts expand Schiller’s business opportunities in China.

March 31, 2011 Schiller Automation GmbH & Co. KG, production solutions provider to the solar industry, won contracts for factory automation at a thin-film photovoltaics facility. Based on the Schiller design already in use in 8 operating thin film factories, the new contract expands the company’s China-based business.

Schiller has engineered and delivered multiple lines using the proprietary BackBone concept, in which full-size glass substrates up to and beyond Generation 5 glass sizes are handled in a central control region and can be handed off to multiple process steps. Handing off full cassettes of glass between process stations reduces the required manufacturing space. In addition, process stations can be maintained easily without affecting the line flow, and expansion systems can be added in the future allowing for significantly more throughput with less downtime. Companies using the BackBone have announced significant reductions in their cost per watt of the modules produced.

Schiller combines the BackBone concept with unique ProLoad stations that handle the substrates as they are being processed at any one step. Separating the main handling and buffering capability of the BackBone with the high speed ProLoad stations allows for superior logistical control and specialized loading characteristics where needed.

The BackBone and ProLoad systems are tied together with Schiller’s proprietary Line Control (LC) software system. This fab-proven software provides a complete and ongoing picture of the status of production, and combines process and inspection data for factory managers to control their process. Schiller LC software is operating in thin films Fabs seamlessly with MES and other fab-level software but can operate stand-alone without the need for any higher-level package. Schillers LC software in already in use at eight factories.

Schiller supplies automation and systems solutions — production, testing and handling systems as well as complete fab automation for manufacturing photovoltaic modules, crystalline solar cells and the production of thin-film solar cells. For more information, visit

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