Since 1995, Prediktor has delivered advanced industrial IT tools and solutions to a wide range of industries, including the PV sector. As CEO Steinar Sælid explains, the company’s solutions are based on deep process knowledge and insights into customers’ processes and operations.
PES: When you were formulating your Manufacturing Execution System (MES) solution back in 2002, you consulted with a number of solar industry members. What was their feedback to you and how did you meet their needs?
Steinar Sælid: The feedback we got from industry members generally was that none of the existing MES solutions covered all the specific needs of the PV industry. One of the most important needs was a very strong tracking functionality since most of the product analysis instruments are placed at the end of the production lines. Therefore, to be able to find root causes of breakage or B class products and optimise process, high quality tracking is needed.
We therefore enhanced our existing real-time framework to facilitate a tracking database to allow the amount and speed of data needed for tracking every single cell or wafer in a production process and linking each cell or wafer with the correct process data that we log from all the production equipment. In addition, we enhanced our real time tracking engine, APIS Modframe, where we can model entire production processes and through this set up the tracking model without causing any downtime of the production or the MES solution. With our combined database and APIS Modframe technology, this allows us to model any PV production process from silicon to module production, as well as smoothly handle all the data that is being logged.
Recently, we have also added our new APIS Analytics module. This module contains Process analysis functionality that allows the user to use univariate, bivariate and multivariate methods such as partial least squares regression. It also contains Design of Experiment functionality that gives the user a quick and easy way of designing and analysing experiments.
PES: What value do manufacturers gain from a tracking system?
SS: We often find it useful to divide tracking benefits in three:
1) Manufacturers are able to document to their customers how the material has been processed in case of defects. We see that this added security is becoming more and more being sought after by manufacturer customers.
2) In the case of defective material, even years after it has been manufactured, the manufacturer is able to track this material back to its source and identify this, for instance tainted feedstock or a wrong equipment set point. It is then possible to identify and if necessary recall all material manufactured from this tainted source.
3) Through material tracking and using a Process analysis solution such as APIS Analytics it is possible to find the root causes of most material defects and breakages. The production process can then be optimized to remove this root cause.