Sunfolding: Solving the Cost Trap of American Made
How Advanced American Manufacturing Practices Secure the Solar Industry's Future
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, MAY 31, 2018 – American made products carry assumptions of high quality at high cost. Advanced manufacturing practices – those involving machine production at high volume – can get around the cost-trap of being American made while still maintaining quality standards. Solar trackers, historically motor-based and requiring overseas production and assembly to maintain cost-effectiveness, particularly benefit from such shifts in manufacturing. Sunfolding’s solar tracking solutions mobilize the high quality standards of American-made and the consistency and cost-effectiveness of high-volume machine manufacturing to produce durable solar trackers, made right here in the United States.
Sunfolding’s AirDrive™ actuator technology, which lies at the center of their tracking architecture, enables this manufacturing shift. The AirDrive leverages the high quality, high volume production and low cost structure achievable with advanced polymer manufacturing.
Sunfolding worked with scientists at Dupont to develop the materials and manufacturing processes for the AirDrive’s bellows, and the AirDrive is assembled in Tennessee by Tier 1 automotive manufacturer Martinrea, one of the fastest growing automotive contract manufacturers in the world. Martinrea has extensive manufacturing knowledge and delivers high quality products at scale. Sunfolding has already built tens of thousands of AirDrives for their customers, and with Martinrea they can meet global demand.
Durability, scalability, and cost savings build from robust supply chain decisions. Sunfolding’s network of partners across the U.S. leverage decades of expertise from other industries. By sourcing materials and components from other American industries – including air brakes made in Kentucky for the automotive industry and air tubing sourced from natural gas – Sunfolding is able to achieve a phenomenal level of reliability data for their components, many of which are off-the-shelf. Additionally, much of that data involves operating environments that are far harsher than those found in solar power plants, including marine applications where UV rays and salt water are constant, corrosive forces.
Sunfolding is set to successfully scale to meet any demand, and at the end of the day, scalability shouldn’t come at the cost of real, human relationships. An additional benefit of being American-made is that customers can easily visit their suppliers and witness the manufacturing processes first hand. Add to that the simplified logistics and lower shipping costs for North America-based projects, and trackers Made in the USA become the most logical choice, under tariffs or not.
Solar needs to be simple, scalable, and it must make financial sense in the here-and-now and pencil out for the future. Sunfolding’s use of advanced manufacturing processes secures the solar industry’s path towards that goal.
Sunfolding designs and manufactures PV power plant solutions built to last for generations. Sunfolding’s flagship product, the Sunfolding T29™ tracker, features a streamlined and inherently robust architecture that makes design and installation a breeze, with fewer components and greater layout flexibility. Fewer components and zero wear surfaces translates to smooth power plant operations and nothing but uptime.
Gwen Rose, VP Business Development