Weathering the Storms
This winter has been a stormy one throughout the country. California experienced record rainfall, the Northeast’s storms lasted right through March, and the Sierra Nevada snow pack is 177% of the average. This has brought smiles to the face of skiers, but presented challenges for those in the solar industry.
Despite the adverse conditions, Itek remained stable in Q1—with a heftier March propping up a slow February. March came in like a lamb and is going out with a roar, ushering in what looks to be a strong start to sales in Q2. Read on for Itek's update - Winter 2017.
In March, Itek teamed up with Tigo® to offer a customer training on the new Itek Smart Module, which is hitting the market this month. The Smart Module, available in both 60-cell and 72-cell models, utilizes Tigo’s TS4 module platform to offer versatile functionality for each module.
The TS4 series junction boxes come in five options: Basic, Monitoring, Safety, Optimization, and Long Strings. The covers are designed for a simple plug and play, so it is easy to convert or upgrade the system to accommodate changing site conditions.
The Itek Smart Module allows for:
- Maximized energy harvest at each site
- Selective deployment so you only pay for the functionality that you will actually use
- Remote management which reduces service calls
- 10-second rapid shutdown in compliance with NEC 2014 and 2017 690.12
- A cooler running temperature
- Simplicity of upgrade
- An increase of sites that can effectively utilize solar
In January, Itek received a $125,000 workforce development training grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce. We are using this grant to implement a system of continuous improvement utilizing time-honored lean practices, including tools such as the 5S methodology, kata, and Training within Industry (TWI)—which dates back to WWII.
Being awarded this grant in conjunction with the opening of a new facility provides Itek with a unique opportunity to train an entire team on lean manufacturing processes and then put it into practice in a brand new facility. Our six-month intensive training began in January and encompasses the entire staff, from the production floor to reception. In some trainings you'll find the accounting intern working alongside the quality assurance engineer, production assembler, and human resources director to ensure that the continuous improvement process is applied to all aspects of the organization.
This opportunity falls perfectly in line with Itek's founding vision of building highly-efficient manufacturing facilities close to strong solar markets—and sized appropriately for those markets—with highly-trained staff and cutting-edge equipment. Itek's dedication to continuous improvement means that we will always try to work smarter—never stop striving for better systems, pushing ourselves to innovate, and continuing to raise the bar on quality US manufacturing of solar products.
Impact Washington Trainer Paul Hamacher with Itek employees
We were very excited to break ground on our new facility in Bellingham this winter. When Phase I is complete, the new Itek manufacturing facility will have the capacity to produce 60 megawatts of solar modules.
Breaking ground on the Bellingham facility.
Made in Minnesota
The Made in Minnesota program's lottery results came in, and the results are exciting! Projects using Itek's panels are more than double what they were in 2016. The majority of the projects are residential, but there is also a healthy slice of commercial solar projects on the docket.
After an exciting 2016, Itek also has exciting times ahead: with continued training, construction on the new facility, Spring and Summer events in the calendar, and the launching of new products to meet the demands of today's solar market. Here's a sneak-preview of Springtime at Itek.
72-Cell Module Coming Soon
Itek has been stepping up its efforts in pursuing the commercial solar market nationwide. As part of those efforts, we've received multiple requests for a 72-cell option for commercial projects. We've heard you, and we are bringing a 72-cell high-efficiency module to our repertoire!
We've also recognized that a number of installers are looking for 72-cells for the residential market.
Our 72-cell module is scheduled to hit the market in June, and will support both the commercial solar market and the residential solar market with a relatively unique black frame, black back sheet option, as well as the standard white back sheet and clear frame model. The 72-cells will also utilize Tigo's® TS4 Platform.
We're excited to share this new project with you. Reach out to our team for lead times and availability.
Itek 72-Cell Test Module, Black Back Sheet, Black Frame
Oregon Solar Energy Conference in Portland
We are very excited to attend the Oregon Solar Energy Conference in May! We are looking forward to connecting to the solar community in person so please stop by our booth to say hi. We hope to see many of you there!