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Shipping damage is a major problem that can affect a wide range of industries, from electronics to automotive parts to industrial machinery. These damages can result in huge financial losses, delays in production, and damage to a company's reputation. The good news is that there are solutions available to prevent shipping damage from occurring, and one of the most innovative solutions comes from Impact Indicator II. Their microcracks modules are designed to provide a reliable and cost-effective way to monitor and prevent shipping damage, ensuring that products arrive at their destination in pristine condition. In this article, we will explore the problem of shipping damage in more detail and discuss how Impact Indicator II's microcracks modules can provide a safe and effective shipping solution for businesses of all sizes.

What is in a photovoltaic panel? What are modules in solar PV?

A photovoltaic panel, a.k.a. solar PV, converts sunlight into electrical energy. A single PV device is known as a cell, and these cells are connected together in chains to form larger units known as modules or panels. A single photovoltaic cell is generally a tiny device, with an average power output of 1 to 2 watts. These batteries are constructed from various semiconductor components. Cells are sandwiched between protective materials in a mixture of glass and/or plastics in order to endure the outdoors for a long time.

PV cells are chained together to create larger units known as modules or panels, which increase their power production. You can use modules separately or connect several of them to create arrays. The electrical grid is then linked to one or more arrays as part of a full PV system. This modular design allows PV systems to be constructed to almost any size of electric power requirement.

What is microcracking in solar panels?

Microfractures, also referred to as microcracks, are a type of deterioration in solar cells. Microfractures, as the term implies, are tiny cracks that can develop in solar cells. Micro-fractures can range in length from those that cover an entire cell to those that only affect a tiny portion of it. A solar PV system's lifetime and energy production can both be impacted by microfractures.

What happens when solar panels break?

Do microcracks really pose a threat? Consequences could vary:

  • If you're fortunate, there won't be any impact on your panel's performance.
  • Microcracks can reduce a module's power production by 2.5% even if they don't lead to electrical separation within a panel.
  • A solar panel's cell or even a portion of it becomes dormant if cracks result in electrical separation. Power losses are considerable in this scenario.
  • Hot areas can also be produced by microcracks because damaged cells absorb more solar energy than healthy ones. In the long term, it shortens a panel's lifespan.

Power is transferred through flimsy wires on the front of each cell, which is a result of the way PV modules are constructed. Microcracks cause the power cannot travel through the solar panel if these connections are damaged because of cracks and solar panels break and lose efficiency and electricity output.

Some manufacturers offer solar panels designed with durability in mind that allow for greater structural integrity and multiple points of contact allowing the flow of power even with a microcrack. On the other hand, a damaged panel may abruptly stop functioning if it is subjected to dangerous substances. As soon as you detect any damage or broken pieces, repair the solar panel.

How do micro-cracks occur?

Before and after installation, cell fractures are a frequent problem for both solar panel manufacturers and system owners.

Most common types of solar panel damage

  • Unknown defect – 20%
  • Power loss – 19%
  • Junction box and cables – 19%
  • Delamination – 10%
  • Defect cell interconnect –10%
  • Optical failure – 6%
  • Frame losses – 6%
  • Glass breakage – 5%
  • Transport damage – 5%

(Image Resource: An overview of solar photovoltaic panels’ end-of-life material recycling)

According to Science Direct’s study, poor quality or process management are typically to blame for manufacturing defects while other causes of panel failure have been claimed to be due to electrical equipment, such as junction boxes, fuse boxes, charge controllers and cabling as well as issues with grounding.

Previous research has shown that 40% of PV panel failures were due to microscopic cracks and failures. This reason has been the most common in newer panels manufactured after 2008 when the production of thin cell panels began.

It is worth noting that incorrect packaging, unsuitable transportation methods and incorrect handling techniques in the supply chain and logistics process causes microcracks. As the product design causes malfunction or microcracks around 20%, it’s crucial to decrease any possibility of PV panel damage, in particular during transit your solar panels.

How do you prevent microcracks?

A good method to prevent microcracks in solar panels is to make the whole thing tougher by design. Microcracks are typically caused by external impact on the panels. Glass and frame are important elements that strengthen a module.

Crucial areas must be addressed: product design, manufacturing, transportation/installation, and environment (manufacturing construction), in order to successfully prevent solar panel microcracks.

Product Design

The first line of defense against weather hazards like rain, dust, hail, and the odd stray golf ball is the front glass panel of a solar module.

A good method to prevent microcracks in solar panels is to make the whole thing tougher by design. Microcracks are typically caused by external impact on the panels. Glass and frame are important elements that strengthen a module. Select tempered glass that can resist the effects of sophisticated hailstone tests.

Manufacturing

The heat and pressure solar panels experience during manufacturing can occasionally result in microcracks in the panels, despite high precision and finely tuned production methods.

Adding numerous EL stations to the production line and right before the panels leave the factory is a wonderful way to stop microcracks from leaving the building.

This way, all our customers receive perfect PV panels free of defects.

Transportation

Solar PV panels are subjected to a variety of dangers while traveling. The module may be subjected to a certain amount of mechanical stress during the transportation procedure. The causes could be anything from rough treatment of the packed modules to vibrations or shocks that happen in a truck's bed, on a train, or during sea transshipment. The solar cells in the modules tend to break and crack the most, causing harm to solar panels. They are frequently plainly apparent to the naked eye. But because they are so tiny, micro-cracks are invisible to the naked eye. Long-term performance and panel life expectancy are adversely impacted by these microcracks.

Claims and disputes may arise rapidly when panels are in good condition when they leave the factory but are damaged en route. Various stakeholders involved in the logistics process may each bear some responsibility for damages that occur during transit. It is imperative to compare the module as it departed the manufacturer's warehouse and as soon as it is unloaded. To be on the safe side, gathering information on the movement of solar panels by keeping an eye on the environment while they are in transit may disclose damage hotspots and be useful during the claims process.

In the next chapter, we will elaborate on this.

Installation

Are you aware that there are improper methods for lugging solar panels up ladders?

Study shows that the correct way of carrying the panel is to balance the weight in your hands against the panel frame. In module output, a module was carried up leaned against backsheet more than leaned against the glass.

A panel should not have too much weight applied to one area. Your shoulder, arm, and back are the ideal places to distribute its weight.

After installation, use infrared cameras to monitor the temperature differences on the module surface which is the most efficient way of detecting defects.

SolarWatt has more detailed unpacking instructions and installation instructions for solar modules.

What is the best way to ship solar panels?

Due to inadequate logistical services, even flawlessly manufactured solar PV panels may become scratched, damaged, or inoperable. According to statistics, shipping and transit damage accounts for close to 5% of panel damages. Asia produces 80% of the world's installed solar PV modules, mainly in Taiwan, Malaysia, and the Philippines, with about 50% also occurring in China. These components must travel a distance to get where they are going.

The following steps can protect solar panels from damage during transit:

  • Before shipping, check the solar panel for any obvious harm.
  • Vertically stack your pieces. Pallets are secured with separators to guarantee the safety of panels, and it will lessen the stress on modules.
  • Face the board with the sunny side (front side).
  • Wrap the solar panel's structure in foam pads.
  • Orient the final solar screen toward the sun.
  • Put border guards in.
  • Straps should be tightly added near the ends, not in the middle.
  • Wrap the entire package in foil. (at least 35 turns for larger shipments)
  • Monitor the surroundings and shocks while traveling to gather information that will help you spot any damages.

Monitoring & Tracking PV modules Shipping

When product transportation is tracked using impact indicators, solar module makers stand to gain significantly. Many different businesses can benefit from monitoring indicators. Transporting solar panel and PV modules for manufacturers is a good example.

According to one cargo surveyor, by approaching transportation and damage mitigation thoroughly, damage in about 50% of goods may be reduced. Indicators on the outside of the packaging can act as an obvious deterrent to carriers and staff who handle packages carelessly. Indicators can prompt product inspections, exposing hidden damage and preventing damaged items from being placed on the shelves because they offer clear proof of an undesirable event.

For impacts deviation, straightforward indicators can offer a go/no-go guarantee. Impact indicators record potentially dangerous falls or drops and trigger at predetermined impact levels.

Utilize the collected data to modify routing and product packaging and reduce shipping risks.

The ability to spot patterns and use predictive analytics to link outliers to specific transport-related events is made possible by the availability of reliable shock indication for the entire trip from source to destination. The precise locations of transit-related damages show that they should be the foundation for future planning.

To successfully and efficiently reduce shipping risks, the cargo owner can depend on historical data to plan the future route, logistics, and packaging. Let's say that a specific carrier or route is more likely to experience delays while in travel. The manufacturer can then decide to move forward with using a different route or carrier, correctly estimating risk, and allocating capital.

The supply chain can be made more cost-effective and risk-reduced by moving safety stock from low-risk regions to high-risk ones. The unanticipated extra handling expense to avoid cargo loss could be cut in half with better product handling.

Best solution to prevent delivery damage – Impact Indicator 2

The customer agrees to use Impact Indicator 2 as a trial to shield expensive, complex, and delicate Solar Panel and PV modules from damage during transit. To start tracking and monitoring, the use of indicators on the most valuable goods was chosen.

Similar to white glove delivery, Impact Indicator 2 is so obvious that handlers can see it and treat the things with care. The majority of forwarding agents worldwide are acquainted with monitoring indicators and know how to use them extremely cautiously. In essence, they have created the next standard operating procedure.

1/ Make sure the Impact Indicator 2 is “transparent” before handling or moving the shipment, and take a picture as evidence. They could stay away from making erroneous accusations and assuming responsibility for the actions of others.

2/ Because they are conscious that the shipment is being watched and that improper handling is not acceptable, they will proceed with the goods with the utmost care. The Impact Indicator visibly dissuades handlers.

3/ The handler must make a notation, record the date/time, and sign the paper following a shock because indicators cannot be reset and are tamperproof.

Clients cannot believe that this indicator improves shipment damage issues. They practice the implementation of the indicators in the subsequent shipment. Since 2021, the damage rate has been reduced to less than 1%, according to statistics.

Reach out Impact Indicator 2 now to save you time, hassle and learn more about best practice.

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