Every time I visit Germany I see and experience their well-organised system in a different way.
This time I had the privilege to visit SMA HQ, thanks to Peter Castle from SMA Australia, who helped organise a tour.
Martin, my host, has been working with SMA for over thirty years and during this time he has witnessed the transformation of the company to the world leading business in solar industry.
After a brief introduction and coffee Martin presented their current product range and services.
After the presentation we moved to the ground floor of the same building which is the assembly area for centralised inverters. At the beginning of this tour I was told that taking photos within the building is not allowed so I will try hard to describe the level of organisation within the walls of this architecturally designed building.
The floor space was clean, well lit and very organized.
The floor area is clearly marked, dividing the paths from the carefully organised assembly floor. Well made portable racks of preassembled panels are carefully vertically stacked next to each station. The assembly area does not have conveyors. Torque on all tools has been set and regularly calibrated, and together with lifting equipment, this provides a safe and healthy environment for assembly staff to produce this high-end product. At each assembly station there are portable shelves with black crates containing the components for that process. All components within the box are barcoded. During the assembly process at each assembly section all installed parts at that station are scanned and referenced to the operation and the operator. The product assembly can not progress without each part being installed at that particular station
Even the floor is painted with special paint. There are static discharge stations at each entrance to the assembly area. All electrical and electronics assembly personnel was wearing earth tags in addition to special safety shoes.
We moved onto the testing area. Grid power is used for this process and returned back to the system, with SMA charged only for the losses. During these tests, the generated heat is used for space conditioning.
Lunch was provided by the host at their cafeteria, with plenty of three-course meals to choose from.
After lunch we picked up Martin’s car from SMA’s multi-storey car park which has battery charging stations for 4 cars. A 10 minute drive took us to the sunny boy, tripower sunny island factory. Production flow was similar to the centralised inverters but with a smaller footprint.
On the way back we stopped by the ground mounted thin-film solar farm which is also the place for testing centralised inverters.
This site is part of an 8MW power installation SMA invested in to make their production carbon neutral.
I spent over three hours at SMA HQ and only visited two out of 31 buildings.
This experience has reinforced my strong and positive views about SMA products and services, as the best in the market. We are proud to continue to offer these products to our customers along with other products that we trust.