Collaborative research for first-class solutions for factory and factory automation in the PV and solar industry

The Alliance Partners

In line with the aided Innovation Offensive “CompanyRegion (UnternehmenRegion)” for the New Laender, 10 companies and research facilities of Central Germany have merged to a center of growth – the “Saxonian Photovoltaic Automation Cluster (Saxon Photovoltaic-Automation Cluster) S-PAC“

With this alliance the single competences of the partners has been consolidated to integrated business activities along the PV value added chain. It reaches from the design and project work over machine and equipment construction, process and equipment automation up to service and maintenance.


As research cluster of businesses and research facilities, the alliance partners coop-erate closely together in network projects to work on a complex and integrated auto-mation of the PV value added chain. The portfolio of the alliance contains solutions for the current processes and products and with its research contents orientated itself to futures ones.

Alliance Project 1

Joint Project JP1 – Comprehensive systems for Photovoltaic Factories and configuration of Interfaces


- AIS Automation GmbH

- AEP Energy Consult GmbH

- Roth&Rau Ortner GmbH

- TU Chemnitz (Professorship Factory Planning and Factory Management)


Project content:

The general goal of the joint project is

- to develop the main systems and steps towards a photovoltaic factory (i.e. planning and design,
  production control, service and maintenance) including interfaces between production systems and
  supply processes
- the formulation of an holistic concept that comprises the development, modeling and simulation
  of innovative production equipment, facilities and control systems in consideration of the total cost of ownership
- the definition and implementation of technical and data exchange standards


  • SP 1.1
    - Open, free configurable production control system
    - Development and realization of methods for data compression
    - Easy adaption to customer systems
    - Integration of an experimental management
  • SP 1.2
    - Concepts and tools for factory planning
    - Standardized tool for planning Photovoltaic Factories
    - Development of a modular facility concept and concepts for the optimization 
      of recycling, energy consumption and place requirement
  • SP 1.3
    - Analysis of existing interfaces, procedures and standards and development of standards to 
      provide service relevant data
    - Requirements specification and support of development for a software module for planning
      and execution of corrective and preventive maintenance
    - Support of development and test of production control system and equipment interfaces
  • SP 1.4
    - Modeling and Simulation
    - Development of a modular building set for the simulation and modeling of photovoltaic
      production systems
    - Emulation of production systems for testing MES-Performance
    - Methods for the holistic planning of PV-Factory


  • Cost-efficient and agile planning by means of a standardized methodical approach
  • Integration of standardized planning tools and a comprehensive environment for simulation and modeling
  • Effortless collaboration and adaption to special customer needs by means of standardized mechanical and data exchange interfaces
  • Integration of a comprehensive concept for service and maintenance regarding not only single equipment but also the whole production line
Alliance Project 2

Joint Project VP02 – Flexible automated handling- and transfer systems for thin wafer manufacture


project partners:

- SITEC Industrietechnologie GmbH, Chemnitz

- XENON Automatisierungstechnik GmbH, Dresden

- Fraunhofer‐Center für Silizium‐Photovoltaik (CSP), Halle

- Institut für innovative Technologien e.V. (ITW), Chemnitz



  • SP 2.1
    XENON - Automation modules for handling, transport and buffering of thin wafers
  • SP 2.2
    SITEC - Laser devices for marking and increase of strength durability in wafer manufacture
  • SP 2.3
    CSP - Description of strength- and deformation behavior of thin wafers
  • SP 2.4
    ITW - Development of methods for the increase of breakage resistance of wafers and for the detection of strength relevant material defects



More efficient use of solar silicon by means of

  • reduced kerf loss
  • reduced breakage rate
  • reduced cycle times
  • possibility of optimization of production devices already during construction
  • flexibility for integration of different measuring and test procedures, scalable production output, as well as 
    the possibility of easy applicable reconfiguration




Alliance Project 3

Joint Project 3 - Automated Modular Compact System for Laser Ablation on Silicon-based Solar Cells


- SITEC Industrietechnologie GmbH, Chemnitz (Projektkoordinator)

- AEP Energie-Consult GmbH, Gera

- Fraunhofer-Institut für Werkstoff- und Strahltechnik IWS, Dresden

- ITW Institut für innovative Technologien e.V., Chemnitz


Project Content:

The overall goal of this joint project is the development of an inline pilot plant for cell-based solar modules.
In detail, processes and facilities for flexible and modular automation solutions for

     - laser ablation

     - passivation and

     - metallization

are to be developed in consideration of development trends for silicon-based solar cells of the new generation with

     - reduced cell or wafer thickness (<140 μm)

     - back contacting on the example of MWT as well as

     - different sizes.

The objective is the generation of rapid manufacturing technologies for the production of openings for contact establishment, for edge isolation and for marking on the basis of the MWT process.



  • SP 3.1
    SITEC - Technology and equipment development for laser ablation

               - Development of modular compact equipment for MWT-cells

               - Development and integration of process technology

               - Rapid production of openings for contact establishment

               - Standardized interfaces

               - Marking (with feedback from joint project 2)

               - Technology development for metallization (in co-operation with IWS)

  • SP 3.2
    AEP - Development of exhaust air and cleaning technology

               - Comprehensive modular air supply and exhaust technology

  • SP 3.3
    IWS - Atmospheric passivation technology/ metallization

               - Technology development for atmospheric passivation

               - Technology development for metallization (in co-operation with SITEC)

  • SP 3.4
    ITW - Development of process-integrated laser, measurement and test processes

                - Edge isolation on the basis of water jet-guided laser ablation

                - Process-specific inline measurement technology as well as receiving and outgoing inspection



  • Reduction of the machine’s throughput time by 20%, reduction of transport and auxiliary times
  • Decrease in breakage rate
  • Cost-savings by 30 % with regard to the overall technology
  • Increase in efficiency by 1 %


Alliance Project 4

Joint project 4 - Development of new automation and assembly technologies for cell production and module assembling of the newest an future product generation with 100 MWp factory modules


- USK Karl Utz Sondermaschinen GmbH, Limbach-Oberfrohna

- Fraunhofer Center for Silizium Photovoltaik (CSP), Halle


Project content:

The general goal of the joint project is

- development of new technologies for solar cell handling only on the basis of gravity without gripping forces

- development of new automation concepts an technologies for the single tool, cluster and line automation
  for the production of the newest and future solar cells

- developing the technology competence for the assembling of the newest and future cell generation

- development of new factory and automation concepts with modular resource saving compact equipment for
  the new dimension of solar module production with 100 MWp factory modules

Furthermore joint project 4 has a share to the project 1 concerning the alliance comprehensive themes, which are

- standardization of interfaces as the basis for

- continuous planning methods an tools

- mechanic and electric equipment consistency and compatibility

- consistent compatibility to the MES systems

- consistent service and maintenance platform

Over all steps of the production process

- development of a consistent concept for continuous capturing of product, process and machine data in one
  MES system

- development of a consistent planning method with reduced planning time and costs by increased planning


Sub projects:

  • SP 4.1
    USK - Development of new automation and assembly technologies for cell production and module assembling of the newest an future product generation with 100 MWp factory modules

             - technologies for gravity based cell handling
             - automation concepts and technologies for single tool, cluster and line automation for the production of
               the newest and future solar cells
             - technological competence for the assembling of the newest and future cell and module development
             - plant and automation concepts with modular compact equipment for 100 MWp factory modules

  • SP 4.2
    CSP - physical and technological evaluation of the manufacturing concepts for 100 MWp factory modules and of the assembling concepts for back side cells


  • scaling effects based on handling and assembling modules for 100 MWp factory modules
  • intelligent flow of material for higher equipment availability
  • optimized manufacturing concepts and assembling for higher process reliability



Alliance Project 5

Joint project  VP5 - Process engineering for modular manufacture of thin-film cells


SITEC Industrietechnologie GmbH, Chemnitz XENON Automatisierungstechnik GmbH, Dresden Fraunhofer Center für Silizium Photovoltaik (CSP), Halle Institut für innovative Technologien e.V. (ITW), Chemnitz

Project content:

Development of innovative solutions for automated high-performance process modules for laser machining, assembly, process monitoring, and quality assurance of solar thin-film modules (front-end to back-end line)    


  • SP5.1 
    XENON - High-performance process modules for automated and interlinked manufacturing sections for module contacting
  • SP5.2 
    SITEC - Modular laser and line equipment for inline laser scribing
  • SP5.3 
    CSP -  Material-physical and technological assessment of contacting and laser-scribing concepts
  • SP5.4 
    ITW - Development of solutions for process-integrated inline test procedures during manufacture


  • Customized manufacture of efficient solar thin-film modules with
  • Enhanced efficiency and quality
  • Increase of module lifetime to over 30 years
  • Reduction of interconnection losses by 30 % thanks to novel contacting techniques
  • Shortening of total production time