Module quality has improved in recent years, PI Berlin

Manufacturers in China, Southeast Asia and Korea achieved higher quality rankings in PI Berlin audits

Module quality has improved and scale has played an important role, but quality still remains variable among both large and small manufacturers, as well as within manufacturers themselves. This is the result of a new white paper published by the Photovoltaic Institute Berlin (PI Berlin).
No manufacturers with capacities exceeding 3 GW per year had a poor or below average quality rating. The majority had an average or above average rating, with some variability from factory to factory remaining. »We attribute these results to growing demands on quality from customers, higher levels of automation and the ability of these companies to attract and retain higher qualified staff,« says Stella Su, Senior Auditor at PI Berlin and author of the study. South East Asia and China are ranking ahead of Europe and North America. Su attributes this to the emergence of genuine mass production in these regions which has created a complete supporting eco-system of equipment suppliers, material vendors and qualified staff.
Some manufacturers can have up to three different quality ratings dependent on the specific factory. »Those companies with a strong quality culture and philosophy will drive to ensure a high degree of consistency between factories, others with a weaker quality culture will experience a much higher degree of variability. The use of sub-contractors also plays a role in variability – the quality of modules from a sub-contractor depends very much on how the sub-contractor is managed.« Customer demand has driven quality improvements.
Since 2012, PI Berlin has conducted over 250 factory audits on more than 120 module manufacturers worldwide. PI Berlin audits evaluate the typical production flow from incoming raw materials, through the entire module assembly process to packaging and shipping of the final product. The result is a risk-based quality rating based on the state of production at a specific factory at a particular time.

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