Constructing solar panel manufacturing facilities is a massive undertaking. A large volume of specialty equipment is required, and the tools used to produce solar panels are large scale. But what happens when one of these facilities closes down? Specialized knowledge of solar manufacturing facilities and toolsets is needed to successfully advise on a facility shutdown and relocation of assets. Because of these requirements, NSTAR® was contracted to disassemble, rig, and prepare production equipment for relocation after a solar facility recently shut down.
This project posed a number of challenges for us. First was the project timeline, which was incredibly short given the size and specifications of the tools involved. Solar production tools are four to five times the size of standard semiconductor tools, and these larger and heavier parts require a longer disassembly process. In addition to size, the machines often are highly customized, so specialized knowledge and understanding of solar production equipment was a must. Finally, when the facility shut down, the machines were left as is, so they also required cleaning and preparation before disassembly.
The NSTAR Solution
Our NSTAR team was able to bring prior experience to this project gained from working on solar cell and solar panel manufacturing projects. We also leveraged our extensive experience disassembling semiconductor tools and equipment. This combination of knowledge and skillsets was critical to completing this project on time and on budget. Our team was able to showcase our capabilities for working with custom (and sometimes elaborate and unusual) tools, with the added challenge of quick turnaround times. Ultimately, close collaboration with the client was key to ensure they received the maximum cost-benefit solution.
Project lead Andy Jones explained, “On a personal level, this project proved to be an exceptional way to challenge myself and expand my skillset. The rising popularity of solar energy is causing the market to mature to the point where some of the older manufacturing tools and machines aren’t as efficient anymore and need to be replaced with more advanced machines. Working with machines that are highly customized, that you haven’t seen before and may never see again, was incredibly rewarding. I’m already looking forward to the next solar project NSTAR can get involved in.”