A new way of generating solar energy is to use roofing material that has the solar cells built right in. Progressive companies are generating power (and profit) by installing a new roof.
The leading manufacturer in this new field wanted to reduce the cost of their manufacturing.A critical part of the manufacturing process is to seal the edge of the photovoltaic (PV) material so water cannot get underneath and cause the PV material to separate from the waterproof membrane below. Voler was asked to improve the control of the Edge Seal machine that applies the adhesive.
We designed a servo control system with a sensor that keeps the applicator head lined up with the edge of the PV material. The sensor is a photodetector used in a novel way. It detects the position by the amount of light reflected. Since the PV material is black, and the waterproof membrane is white, the amount of reflected light reliably indicates position. Because the sensor uses red light, it is insensitive to the fluorescent illumination in the area.
The control worked better than expected. The customer reported that they could quickly pay for the cost of the system with the savings in the adhesive, because they can apply the adhesive in a much thinner line and still guarantee that the edge of the PV material is sealed.