Solar Power Plants are an important piece of our country’s greener future. But it’s a lesser considered fact that the irregular or improper cleaning of solar panels tends to diminish the plant’s efficiency by 40 percent. The tempered glass glued on top on each panel and the heights at which certain rooftop panels are placed make the cleaning process more difficult and unsafe; to say nothing of the time taken to clean the huge surface area.
The fact that they must be cleaned after sundown when the panels are not generating electricity, to avoid electrical accidents adds to the woes. Infiction Labs offers a panacea to all the aforementioned predicaments through its innovative robotic solutions, thanks to its expert team with a zest for automation as well as innovative problem solving. Havish Sreenath, Founder and CEO, engages in an exclusive talk with CIO Insider.
In conversation with Havish Sreenath, Founder & CEO, Infiction Labs
What made you choose this niche area within the robotics market?
Around five years ago, while visiting one of my relatives at his solar power plant in Nelamangala, Bangalore, I happened to observe that manual cleaning did not help much to completely rid the dust on the panels. In truth, the remains of the dust and dirt is enough to reduce the efficiency of the panels by 40 percent. The risk of cleaning them manually was rather humongous, a we noticed that the cleaning personnel neither followed any safety measures nor had taken any precautions, considering the fact that the voltage that could be produced if a mishap occurred could be life-threatening.
Also, I noticed that it was even riskier in the case of rooftop solar plants. All these factors added up and urged our team to develop a cleaning solution called SPARC (Solar Plant Autonomous Robotic Cleaning & Continuance), a robotics-based efficient cleaning solution that is lighter and can be moved effortlessly across every nook and corner of the plant.
What makes your cleaning products unique and what are the energy saving habits that they are entailed with?
We have designed an autonomous solar panel cleaning robot, which can effortlessly and efficiently clean [both] rooftop and ground mounted utility solar plants. These bots can be charged and sent back to cleaning. It has different modes of operation which enable the personnel to select, switch and take control of the machine remotely from a safer location whenever required. It helps increase the efficiency by almost 60 percent in some cases, as it enables cleaning of the toughest spots and the stubborn industrial residues, bird droppings, and insect eggs/larvae for that matter.
These bots can be charged and sent back to cleaning. It has different modes of operation which enable the personnel to select, switch and take control of the machine remotely from a safer location whenever required
We design and build machines that are robust, sustainable, lightweight and especially affordable. The SPARC 1.2 and SPARC mini are two models targeting different segments, while the former helps clean in the most unreachable areas, and does not require additional support structures or perfect panel alignment for operation. The latter, however, is mounted with a telescopic pole which is capable of extending up to four meters and through its motorized brushes it also helps clean the far corners of the panels. Both are light and affordable.
What is the purchase experience a customer is entitled to?
We first perform a demo and then deploy a closed pi-lot after which our
clients proceed to raise a purchase order. Then we assemble the machine for them and deploy it on the field which may take a week to three months depending on the size of the portfolio. We offer training to the on field personnel in terms of safety, support and trouble shooting and then proceed to offer them an AMC which can be renewed every year, and service for nearly 18 months with warranty. Additionally, for our customers, we gather all the generated data and offer predictive maintenance, where they are prior notified about the mishaps and possible care requirement for other O&M aspects of the plant.
What are the opportunities that you foresee? What is the future roadmap of Infiction?
Our mission is to automate the complete operation & maintenance activities of a solar power plant, from cleaning to predictive-maintenance. We plan to make the generated data available to our clients through cloud, so that they can access it from anywhere and everywhere. Therefore, we desire to build a data analytics engine connected to multiple autonomous machines on the field doing maintenance activities across solar plants. We wish to develop smarter machines to do more than just cleaning. Currently, we have commenced our R&D unit, putting futuristic technologies like AI & ML to good use. Our goal is to be a robotics and automation leader in solar the industry worldwide by making solar energy sustainable. This we think is critical as Solar power is the front runner to help tackle climate change. That’s the big picture we have in mind.