Next Gen R&D
Beyond the wind tunnel and the test lab, SunLink is collecting data to inform our R&D efforts all day, every day from live projects in the field. Internet of Things technology allows us to transform the components on solar installations into physical “networks” by embedding them with electronics, software, sensors and network connectivity. The data these IoT components continuously collect enables a new era in R&D and product innovation.
No longer is it sufficient to base product designs and project solutions exclusively on laboratory outcomes and static modeling. Instead, we are informing a new generation of structural analysis with real time wind and snow load, forces, system performance and other data from ongoing field data collection. SunLink is harnessing this R&D power in its latest product designs as a means to enable dynamic, lower cost solutions.
Very soon, we’ll also be entering an era of machine learning where our solar hardware actually becomes able to troubleshoot without human involvement.
For example, by analyzing all the data collected by the sensors over time, a tracker system might recognize a pattern that when a wind speed of a certain mph hits the system at a certain degree tilt, the system is stressed. Moving forward, any time the tracker sensors picked up on the fact that the wind was approaching that mph, they could then trigger the array to change tilt angle to avoid the stress. When the wind speed drops back down, the system will react by moving back into optimal tilt. There might even be a certain time of the day that a stress condition occurs on a regular basis and with predictability because of precursor events. We will eventually anticipate force and move to mitigate their effects before they happen.
With our systems able to react on their own to stressors and avoid extreme loads, we will have the ability to pull costs out of the system by reducing the metal required, because it will no longer be necessary to design for the max code-level event.