Probably one of the most up-to-date collector plants in Europe: Vaillant Group has automated their production in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Photo: Vaillant Group
Whoever is scheduling a new collector plant, the Reis Robotics has more than just robots for its completion. The robot manufacturer from Obernburg, Germany, sees himself as a system integrator. “We only sell robots separately in single cases,“ Steffen Guenther, Reis's Solar sales manager, says.
His company assists businesses in the solar industry during process designs of new production lines. It is not uncommon within the photovoltaic industry that manufacturers rely on the expert knowledge of experienced automation specialists when planning their module production. Solar thermal companies were a bit more reluctant to do that, Guenther says.
Not the Vaillant Group. The German heating group sought cooperation with Reis when it designed its new collector assembly in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. “It was our goal to automate the new production as far as possible,“ plant manager Franz Kleinschnittger, explains. The robots will be able to produce as much as 100,000 collectors per year together with their human counterparts - 250,000 m². According to Kleinschnittger, utilizing robots would make sense, for example, to put together the frame casing for the collector and when gluing the cover glass. Automation, however, would have become costly and complex if a machine had taken over, for example, the insertion of the thermal insulation into the collector casing. Further process steps that workers finish manually are, among others, the mounting of fittings on solar manifolds and the cleaning of the collector's interior by using a vacuum cleaner.
The text was written by Joachim Berner, a Munich-based journalist and solar thermal expert.