The PVA 4.0 project targets to automatize the manufacturing of the photovoltaic assemblies (PVA), which create power for the satellites, using a robotized concept.
Europe’s largest satellite manufacturer, with a new factory, including a high standard towards a 4.0 concept. The PVA team is initiated in 2017 and has grown to about 10 persons in Belgium so far.
Satellites need photovoltaic assemblies (PVA) to provide power.
The PVA consists of many solar cells glued to a substrate and connected via a harness to provide the electrical current to the body of the satellite.
So far, the manufacturing of these PVA panels was done manually, which takes a huge amount of time and inspections to ensure the quality and accuracy of doing the ‘laydown process’ and electrical connections.
The PVA 4.0 project targets to automatize the manufacturing of the PVA panels using a robotized concept.
The robot will be used to lay down the cells on the front face of the panel.
In addition to the robot, the factory uses other technologies to enable the operators to do their work more accurate and provide data tracking at the same time.
This is achieved using projection screens, in combination with augmented reality, to assist in routing and assembling the harness to the backside of the panel.
Another big step is the use of a fully automated test setup, which enables full analysis of a complete panel in a few hours.
The analysis includes normal photos, infrared photos, current continuity, diode characteristics, ….
These analysis used to take days and special operators to perform it manually.
Now, thanks to the new system, it is all automated and accurately done.
In addition to that, the site is equipped with thermal chambers, used to cycle the panels between -175°C and +175°C in ambient pressure, which enables the stress tests for the panels.
Main parts of the robot are verified
The projection tables have been used successfully
Different tooling is created and used, others are still under development
Programs for the electrical automated measurements are created and validated