In almost every corner of the solar industry, key players are struggling to standardize design, construction, operations and maintenance, regulation and permitting. As an industry grows and matures, it must go through multiple stages of process standardization.
In the auto industry, this was exemplified by the production line of the Model T, then Toyota (followed later by Ford, Chrysler, GM and others) adopting W. Edward Deming’s total quality framework, and in modern times by the industry standardizing on OBD-2 computer systems for diagnostics.
Solar manufacturing, installation, operation and maintenance comprise a huge number of processes, many of which don’t follow modern manufacturing and process engineering standards. The solar industry has used many of the lessons of mass-manufacturing science in order to produce cells and panels more effectively, but it has not yet ported these lessons to the more effective installation of solar.
In fact, in solar installation, operations and maintenance, the industry deploys some of the same metrics to determine the outcome of installation capacity that were common in a 1920s-1940s automotive factory. These methods revolve around reworking failed components and assemblies, or rolling a truck to re-work a site in the solar example. Often, this inspection occurs at the intake for solar asset management, or system activation in residential systems.
Diagram of a Rework-on-Failure Based Quality Assurance Framework