ENGINEERING FOR USEFULNESS AND RELIABILITY

When I first jumped into the solar sector, I always wondered how these devices on the drawing board are going to make it through the 15-20 year life cycle period in extreme weather conditions. This question on reliability during the design stage keeps most product development engineers/designers up late nights, filled with checking back into the office/lab, making sure the test is running fine and then rechecking the morning after. Fatigue tests for example can last a few weeks and starting-off with the wrong conditions implies losing valuable startup time (time being our most important resource). Testing under controlled conditions sometimes is the best one can do before deploying the product onto the field. Over a period of time, I have learnt that iterations in design and product specs are inevitable and the product takes a more simplistic form if you proceed down the right path, else something has gone wrong.

A product in the renewable energy sector involves working in various sectors of engineering and one can broadly classify them into the following:

  1. Mechanical (usually moving parts, bearings, gears, clutches, fluid couplings etc.)
  2. Structural (steel, fibre glass, concrete etc.)
  3. Electronics (sensors, PCBs, data acquisition systems etc.)
  4. Electricals (combiner box, connectors etc.)
  5. Software …
  6. User interface and so on…

Each of the above needs to go through their own series of iterations, usually a specialist working in perfecting each and every part of the product, integrating it with the rest of the sector specialists. A process revitalising in itself because in the end, the form that the product takes makes logical sense. You then have 1 team leader making sure this is what the customer wants, surveying the environmental conditions through a series of field visits, data acquisition and a foresight to reliability and performance.


Designing for easy service:

Renewable energy products especially need to earn the trust of a first-time buyer. The smallest miscalculation during the design stage can lead to trust issues. For example, replacing faulty string inverters in a MW solar plant scale increases the O&M significantly. Early stage design and choosing the proper suppliers can guarantee reduction of lifetime costs of the plant.


What we are taught at university:


T
The conventional way to bring out a relevant reliable useful product. Categorized and brought to form for repeated implementation.

Ingress protection (IP):


Vaahan’s solar tracker control system inside an IP rated box

Vaahan Renew has designed solar tracker power plants for extreme weather conditions after years of testing and validation. We are now working on improving core solar power efficiency issues that cause a significant loss for consumers in the field of operation.

If you wish to avail our engineering services or would like to place an order for solar trackers with us, please do contact us.

Sincerely,

Ashwin Shreshta

MSc. Automotive, RWTH Germany

Director, Vaahan Renew Energy Pvt. Ltd.

www.vaahanrenew.com

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