Our Services at a Glance

 

Quality Assurance: Overview

CEA’s Quality Assurance services span the entire duration of the manufacturing process, from the arrival of raw materials in the factory to the shipment of modules to the client.

The CEA team specializes in the development and implementation of quality assurance programs suitable for solar developers, IPPs, EPCs, and financial institutions. CEA’s experienced on-the-ground and international team of quality control engineers and supply chain consultants offers an unparalleled quality assurance presence that can protect solar investments and ensure future energy-producing viability for the life of the product.

CEA’s platform also provides the flexibility needed in order to develop quality assurance platforms that are tailored to the client. Clients that are involved with large, multi-million dollar projects may elect for either a stricter program that forces module providers to undertake rigorous testing procedures and inspections by third-party providers, or higher in-house testing frequency and standards. CEA’s long-standing relationships with module manufacturers at different levels of corporate organization, including executives, management, operations, and quality control personnel, permit its bilingual team to provide clients with the peace of mind that CEA will provide an unbiased, third-party quality assurance presence in the factory.

Quality Assurance: Quality Assurance Program Definition

The importance of quality assurance to a project’s success emerges long before the first module is taken off of the production line. Because of this, CEA’s quality assurance services begin two to four weeks prior to the initiation of production. The CEA team will work with clients in order to ensure that CEA’s standard specifications are sufficient to meet client needs, and make corresponding addenda to meet client or financial institution requirements. Establishing such criteria is imperative both for the seamless production of solar modules, inverters, and racking systems, and also for ensuring consistent performance throughout the life of the product.

Quality Assurance: Pre-production quality control (IQC)

CEA’s pre-production quality control is of particular importance to owners, IPPs, developers, and EPCs interested in the long-term electricity production of solar modules and inverters. CEA’s team of engineers will monitor a supplier’s incoming shipments of raw materials to ensure that the components match perfectly with the bill of materials (BOM). In current market conditions, it is imperative to guarantee that modules are using components that have been vetted by financial institutions as well as rating organizations (e.g. UL) in order to ensure that the product which has been portrayed at trade shows and/or during technology discussions, is the same product which is delivered to the buyer.

Manufacturers throughout the module solar value chain are required to annually register and test new modules as they relate to a specific Bill of Materials (BOM). Th is process is performed in order to provide greater assurance to downstream parties that the module being purchased is the same that has been tested by third-party rating organizations. CEA’s standard BOM testing platform will include the processing and documentation relating to, but not limited to, the following components:

1. Cell
2. Tempered Glass
3. VA Encapsulation Film
4. TPE Backsheet
5. Junction Box
6. AL Alloy Frame
7. Welding strip
8. Sealant
9. Other casing materials

In addition, CEA’s Western ownership and supply chain management team is able to utilize its extensive contracting experience to help provide clients with a better understanding of proper terms and conditions, as well as sufficient implementation of allowance for quality control support during the manufacturing process. CEA’s team has extensive experience in working with Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 solar manufacturers and will provide both clients and manufacturers with the knowledge that CEA is an unbiased third-party QA representative.

CEA’s team will provide assistance in negotiating with suppliers regarding third-party QA access to supplier facilities, allocation of module workshops to client projects, AQL tables, as well as viability of using supplier OEM manufacturers.

Quality Assurance: 24/7 In-Line Production Monitoring (IPQC)

CEA’s quality control team minimizes the burden on clients of managing the production process. CEA can provide 24/7 production monitoring support, as desired, in order to guarantee that there are no shortcuts taken and no improper production methods are used by manufacturers. CEA’s team has over 9GW of quality control management experience and is able to accurately and efficiently work with manufacturers in order to protect client investments.

One challenge that companies face during the solar PV module procurement process is with regards to different QA standards when managers and executives are not in the factory, such as during non-standard working hours, nights, weekends, and holidays. CEA organizes its quality control team in order to combat these issues and oversee production quality with the same stringency as during normal working hours. Another concern within the current market place is in regards to manufacturers seeking any and all avenues through which to cut costs and increase margins. As a result, some suppliers may use less optimized materials or components not listed in the BOM. CEA specializes in both ensuring the quality of production, and confirming that the BOM ordered is the same as the one delivered to the job site.

The cost of a quality assurance program during the solar development process differs depending on the size and order of the projects, and is based on the following considerations:

  • Cost to build right the first time
  • Statistical Process Control (SPC) Costs
  • Adjustment / Replacement of the Non conformance

Quality Assurance: Post-production Quality Control and Container Loading Check

While it is imperative to guarantee the quality of modules produced, it is also important to ensure that the modules will arrive at the job site in the same condition they were in when they left the factory.

One such example is that automated production lines, while a positive move in the marketplace, are not by definition better than manual production lines. The CEA team will provide support in ensuring that automated production lines are calibrated correctly throughout and after the production process in order to ensure that future production and shipments adhere to the same quality standards for clients. In addition, CEA will guarantee that modules, prior to their being shipped, are properly sealed and locked so as to minimize any risks that could occur during shipping. Particularly, it is important that the module cleaning process following production is well monitored, that packing standards and the use of packing material meet contract requirements, and that modules are properly loaded in order to minimize scratches and micro-cracks during the shipment process.

The cost of a quality assurance program during the solar development process differs depending on the size and order of the projects, and is based on the following considerations:

Quality Assurance: Third party Testing

In conjunction with the post-production packing process of modules, CEA’s team also believes that select third party testing by external parties can provide additional insight into the technical viability of purchased modules. CEA offers an industry-leading cooperative effort with major third-party testing laboratories across markets such as the US, Europe, and China. CEA’s team is able to coordinate the random sampling and shipment of a select number of modules to testing facilities. Testing capabilities include all major testing platforms, with specialization in the following:

  • Safety and Performance Testing
  • Thresher Tests

CEA prides itself on its ability to offer various types of third-party testing lab programs depending on client needs. With expertise since 2008 in IEC and UL performance standards for worldwide markets. CEA is capable of providing clients with a truly comprehensive quality assurance platform.

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