Solar Sales: Transport of PV modules

Do you know how are you panels transported to your warehouse or directly to your customers? The quality of photovoltaic panels is not only its production, its also its packaging, loading, transporting and unloading. To deliver your customers the best quality, it is good to know if modules are transported in a correct way.

Transport of PV modules: largest risks

The largest risk while transporting photovoltaic modules are mechanical loads that can cause microcracks unnoticeable to the naked eye. The customer who receives panels with defects has difficulties to prove it was caused by transport. There is also no specific and official document for manufacturers defining the way those devices should be transported. There are many companies on the market, each of them choosing how their components are going to be transported.

Transport of PV modules: how can they be protected?

Manufacturer can however decide to add additional warranty covering the transport. For instance, TUV Rheinland (PV certification leader) in cooperation with DB Schenker (logistics company) defined a procedure of control and monitoring of photovoltaics panels while they travel. At the beginning packaging is verified, then output parameters are checked. The last stage consist of module monitoring while being transported. The full transparency from production till unloading stage is delivered thanks to DB Schenker sensors that indicate all loads experienced by panel during its travel.

Also logistic companies are verified and as a result a customer receiving panels with additional warranty can be sure that there are no defects in panel caused by transport and damaged panels are eliminated from selling.

It is estimated that 5% of all panel damages are those resulting from transport. The worst reported cases included slipping panels from pallets, squeezing the corners too tight or even stepping on panels.

There are many rules about panel transport. Below we present some of them.

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Vertical transport

It is usually preferred to horizontal one, since it reduces vulnerability of the panel on different loads. Vertical position ensures that loads are distributed on aluminium part of frame (preferably longer one). In the case of horizontal transport, modules can also create additional loads on each other.

Elimination of putting objects on panels or stepping on them 

Especially when transported horizontally. It is also worthy to put additional covers on top panels and between them

Transparent packaging 

Used instead of cardboards to make everyone aware that those devices are fragile and waterproo

Special pallets 

Those that are customized for the size of photovoltaic panels, normally slightly bigger and stuffed with additional protection.

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Additional protection

For example foams in containers or intelligent, reusable plastic corners from Eckpack or Darmstandt- allowing horizontal transport, but offering also solutions for vertical packaging. Sometimes they can be equipped with special hooks to make sure that panels don’t touch each other causing additional loads.

Responsibility

It is good to know whose responsibility is to deliver panels in ideal state at each stage (especially important for longer travels like those of Chineese modules), based on Incoterms. It is also worthy to collaborate with verified partners who understand the product.

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Others

Some solutions are generated at production stage, for example Colored Solar uses thicker glass of 4 mm instead of 3,2 mm standard.

Certain defects can be detected during transport on in-situ. For example, SEMI developed a method to detect mechanical loads that already packed modules can experience (PV23-1011). As a study Crack distribution of crystalline silicon photovoltaic modules states, not each crack has to cause damage. This will depend on its location on panel surface. The most frequent type of cracks are those that are parallel to bus bars and multidirectional.

The proper panel transport is unfortunately many times a compromise between quality and price. Pallets normally have 30 panels each and the less space they occupy, the less protection parts they may have. Find out how you modules are transported, maybe you can be more competetive than others!