Solar Power From The Fabric In Your Tent Or Awning

One of this week’s more intriguing conversations centered on solar power from your canopy, awning, or tent with Pvilion CEO Colin Touhey. 

Maybe in these post-Covid days of rediscovered al fresco dining, you may be able to have a fine meal under a tent with lighting and outlets to charge your mobile device powered by solar cells in the fabric of the tent. Or perhaps thinking of work, you need temporary coverage of an area for work or storage. And electrical power is required. Maybe many volts and amps. Same scenario. Pvilion products, er, cover a fascinating range of use cases. I’ve included a general background of Pvilion and its technology plus use cases from the New York Botanical Garden and a Home Depot location.

Pvilion Solar Fabric

What is Pvilion?

(from an essay by Director of Marketing Jill Gettinger) Pvilion integrates solar cells into fabric, producing products that when exposed to the sun, generate electricity. Pvilion can take any surface that receives sunlight, cover it with this fabric and produce electricity, providing flexible structures that can be powered independent from the electricity grid.

The more technical name for Pvilion’s offerings is flexible photovoltaic (PV) solar fabric products and structures and behind the simplicity is a 10-year-old partnership between Colin Touhey, an electrical engineer and CEO of Pvilion, and fabric industry veterans Todd Dalland, a pioneering designer and inventor in the field of lightweight structures, and Robert Lerner, AIA, an architect who has led new technology development programs involving lightweight, deployable structures for NASA, the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force. The three connected when they were working on integrating photovoltaic cells with fabric for the U.S. Department of Defense.

Pvilion’s roots go back more than 20 years when Dalland and Lerner developed the first photovoltaic tent. That the tent was easy to deploy, flexible and self-powered piqued the attention of the military, which led to research and development funding from the U.S. Army.

Military deployments during this time further increased product demand as forward operating bases needed to be setup quickly in places where there was no grid, and it was difficult to setup up traditional power generators.

At the same time, mobile device usage, cell phones, laptops, handheld computers, was taking off. The mobile purpose of these devices meant they often needed to be powered where access to a traditional grid source was not available. To meet this need, Pvilion developed the Solar Sail, a small solar canopy that resembles a sail, hence the name, which can be easily deployed in public spaces and at outdoor gatherings, e.g., sporting events, concerts, parks, weddings,et cetera. Once deployed and receiving sun light, it generates power that can be tapped into to charge mobile devices.

Concern for the environment also came into play as solar power’s proven advantage over fossil fuels is that its use leaves no carbon footprint. As a result, environmentally conscious corporations and public entities, like schools, began installing Pvilion’s solar power canopy structures to meet both short- and long-term needs while avoiding the costs, environmental damage, and time associated with erecting and running permanent structures tied into the local power grid.

What started out as a solar powered tent has evolved into a product range covering standalone USB charging stations and easy to erect temporary structures, including canopies and awnings, all solar powered.

The easiest way to understand what Pvilion does is to look at one of its signature products: The Solar Sail Canopy, a free-standing canopy that can be erected anywhere that receives sunlight: parks, university campuses, bus stands or in any public setting, and used to recharge mobile devices. The Solar Sail Canopy is available in (3) versions: a Single Pole Solar Sail, a Double Pole Solar Sail that can be used as a solar powered shelter, e.g., over a bus stop or bench, and a portable Four Pole Canopy for seasonal applications that can be customized to suit an individual space requirement.

Sustainability At New York Botanical Garden

NY Botanic Gardens

Aesthetic appeal is very important to The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), which is why the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) chose NYBG as the launch site for Pvilion’s Solar Powered Canopy structures.

Intended to provide NYBG visitors a place where they can seek shade, enjoy a beverage and recharge their mobile devices, the eight (8) solar canopies, designed, engineered and installed by Pvilion, provide ample space to relax while staying safely socially distanced.

Pvilion provides a fabric that incorporates photovoltaic cells, which generate electricity upon exposure to the sun. As part of New York City’s emission reduction efforts, seven (7) of the canopies contribute energy directly to the city’s power grid. One (1) structure powers a bank of batteries used by NYBG and by Botanical Garden visitors to charge their mobile phones and other cellular devices.

The solar canopies are a pilot project operated by Pvilion and the Innovative Demonstrations for Energy Adaptability (IDEA) Program, an initiative of the City of New York’s Division of Energy Management. The program encourages businesses, innovators and entrepreneurs to create transformative opportunities and to foster a culture of innovation. The goal is to find solutions to the challenges facing manufacturers and businesses through partnerships with private sector business entities, with emphasis placed on technology to help the City reduce carbon emissions.

Pvilion’s Solar-Powered Fabric Products are fully turn-key solutions that provide energy in any location where fabric is exposed to the sun. Pvilion integrates its fabric technology into a wide range of applications. The technology eliminates the need of having two (2) separate systems: fabric shade/shelter and solar panels. Instead, Pvilion integrates the solar power into its fabric to achieve one turn-key product that provides charging, lighting, ventilation, climate control all in an easy to install manner. Pvilion has delivered high quality products for customers like Google, Tommy Hilfiger, Carnegie Hall, Tishman, New York City, Yale Univ, the Florida Dept of Transportation, Bloomberg, The City of Miami, FL and more.

Home Depot Pilot Program to Achieve Sustainable Energy

The Home Depot Rental Center in Geismar, Louisiana, a large industrial building and parking area, serves as the rental equipment preparation and distribution center to surrounding Home Depot stores. Here, equipment is prepared before being sent to Home Depot Superstores upon being rented by customers. The first of over one hundred rental centers planned to be opened throughout the country, Geismar is also the initial location for a Home Depot green pilot energy sustainability program in which Pvilion Solar Canopies will be used to recharge rental equipment batteries.

Pvilion developed and installed its signature product, the Portable Solar Sail Tent, at the Geismar, LA Home Depot. Effectively, a relocatable canopy integrated with solar panels; the Solar Sail can provide sustainable power anywhere that receives sunlight. It lets Home Depot charge its electric rental equipment independently from the local electric grid, eliminating the environmental impact associated with traditional sources of energy and the need to create permanent infrastructure.

The implemented 20 ft x 24 ft structure provides two (2) bays under an angled roof for maximum sun exposure. It is designed to withstand extreme weather conditions yet is flexible for speedy assembly/disassembly. It can provide up to 5 kW of energy and storage for up to five (5) full operational days of energy without sun. In addition to charging rental equipment, the energy provided by the Solar Sail can also be used to power other devices such as cell phones, laptops and lighting.

Dana Adopts Additive Manufacturing For Machine Parts

While I’m on an additive manufacturing theme today, here is some news I picked up revealing additive manufacturing applications at a major manufacturer. It involves Dana, a supplier to the “mobility industry”, namely automotive, commercial vehicle, and off-highway markets.

The problem statement—Dana was seeking a way to expand its engineers’ ability to rapidly ideate and prototype more efficiently and effectively. A team was assembled to explore the opportunities that additive manufacturing could bring.

“Additive is a situation where if you’re not engaged, if you’re not learning, if you’re not driving innovation from it, you’re going to miss the boat,” Terry Hammer, Vice President, Light-Vehicle and Global Core Engineering at Dana. “Dana took a very structured approach to additive manufacturing. We wanted to define the value first.”

The team at Dana had heard about Markforged’s 3D printers and software solution and started exploring the technology as an option. The company invested in two Markforged X7 3D printers and two Metal X systems, putting one of each in Maumee, Ohio and Trento, Italy.

“From the beginning, it was about being able to leverage additive manufacturing to provided more cost-effective replacements for specialized tooling,” says Hammer.

The company now has Markforged 3D printers across seven countries — including Italy, the U.S.A., Canada, Brazil, Germany, India, and China.

When the initiative was approved, Kelly Puckett, Senior Manager of Additive Manufacturing, who has been with Dana for twenty years, was asked to lead the additive manufacturing efforts. “I’m tasked to ensure Dana uses additive more frequently or in a better way,” he says.

Markforged VP of Sales Bryan Painter says that bringing the technology in is just the starting point. “Your need to then think about how you’re going to be successful and the values that you’re going to get if you are successful,” Painter says. “The rest of it is just technology. People and process are really what makes the difference.”

From whiteboard sessions about the deployment plan to the creation of Markforged University — the educational program that aims to teach Markforged users about how to best use its technology — the two companies have collaborated with one another to continuously learn how to improve their businesses.

For Markforged, this collaboration has resulted in the creation of new products and services, as well as improved hardware, software, and professional services — thanks to Dana’s candid feedback. Some notable products and services made possible or better with Dana include Enterprise Eiger, Markforged University, Turbo Print, and Blacksmith. 

More than 150 people from Dana have taken part in Markforged University so far, either in-person or online, meaning that more and more engineers and designers have the tools they need to use their Marforged printers effectively. Andrea Aylward, Additive Manufacturing Engineer at Dana in Canada, says that the team gained a lot from completing Marforged University. “We got a handle on best practices and things to keep in mind when trying to design or adapt a design for additive manufacturing.”

With a large network of Markforged 3D printers at their fingertips, the Dana team can quickly iterate and innovate.

Each manufacturing facility has a different need for additive manufacturing. In Ontario, Canada, the Power Technologies division has used its X7 3D printer to create functional forming dies — stamping sheet metal into proof-of-concept designs that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive and time-consuming to create. This allowed the team to rapidly test products and prepare for customer analysis in a more efficient, scalable way. 

In Italy, Dana’s Off-Highway advanced engineering team can often be found using their Markforged printers for internal tooling and fixtures. 

“The good quality of the composite parts of the X7 opens some very good opportunities in terms of tooling and fixtures,” says Fabrizio Zendri, Advanced Engineering Manager at Dana in Rovereto, Italy. An application Zendri is most proud of is workholding gears that hold parts as they are being processed. At the end of 2020, the fixtures had been in use for over a year without failure and have resulted in 70% cost savings and a 90% reduction in lead time per fixture.

In Maumee, Ohio, each tech center’s additive manufacturing lead joins a monthly meeting with other leads to share findings, ideas, and concerns. Some centers even share designs that are printed in other global locations, and they’re finding new and exciting ways to use their printers. This mindset has set them up for success, according to Marforged’s Cady. “Dana as an organization is going to be able to move faster than many because they’re designing with an additive mindset, even for the subtractive process.”

Though many of Dana’s engineers are spread out across different time zones, Eiger’s cloud architecture allows them to work seamlessly as if they were in the same room together. They’re able to share designs, get real-time analytics, and live telemetry in one place for easy global fleet management. “Eiger itself is a very simple software to use. It’s very intuitive,” says Puckett.

Now that Dana has started to adopt and deploy Markforged printers, software, and training, Dana is looking forward to the future and how they’ll continue to be leaders in the mobility industry with the help of additive manufacturing. “We’re expanding our facility to another floor of the building so we will have a better place for the machines, and we’re finalizing the installation of the Metal X,” says Fabrizio Zendri in Italy.

Scaling the speed and efficiency of prototyping operations across their global locations is key to the future success of additive at Dana. “We have begun to produce some of the tools and fixtures that we might have purchased on the outside before,” says Puckett. “Especially as we go to the plants, the plant engineer that needs something printed with a machine—they ned it today. And the faster we can get it to their hands with the least amount of effort for them to get it produced, the better off they are.”

Collaboration and Access to Experts

Yesterday, I sat in on a Webinar from Honeywell about a plant optimization project with Woodside. Here are a few takeaways.

Supplier/Customer Collaboration–from the earliest phase of the project, the customer brought in experts from the supplier to assist planning, specifying, scheduling, and the like.

Planning–not a surprise to any of us who have done any project in manufacturing (or around the house) that success was correlated with good planning.

Access to remote experts–we now have good tools for bringing in experts from wherever they are to consult with the project. Video tools mean they can see and be seen. This saves time, money, headaches.

Nokia Delivers Private 5G Network

Nokia delivers private 5G network to MYNXG for secure IoT solutions development 

  • 5G connectivity enables MYNXG testing and development of secure end-to-end IoT solutions for high-performance industrial applications
  • Network deployed at MYNXG headquarters in Nuremburg, Germany

The Apple-oriented tech podcasters that I listen to—Daring Fireball-The Talk Show with John Gruber and Accidental Tech Podcast—kept complaining about not seeing a noticeable improvement in cellular reception with their new iPhone 12s. Thing is, the true benefits of 5G have little to do with the ordinary consumer. Here is an early peek at a use case. There will be more and better to come.

Nokia has deployed an industrial-grade private wireless 5G campus network at the Nuremburg development center of secure industrial IoT specialist MYNXG

MYNXG will use the Nokia 5G network at its new industrial IoT interoperability test center to develop new secure solutions for the industrial Internet of Things, as well as perform real-life testing of equipment and sensors for a range of OEM and customer projects. 

MYNXG’s operational technology functions using 5G’s full capability from both a performance and quality of service perspective. MYNXG has integrated the Nokia 5G solution into its end-to-end secure MYNXG IoT Platform. As the deployment progresses, the companies will identify potential opportunities for joint solution development.

Bernd Möller, CEO of MYNXG, said: “Our goal is to be able to offer our customers robust, and certified end-to-end secure industrial IoT solutions, so that they can drive the automation and digitalization of their processes. By integrating Nokia’s 5G technology into our overall industrial IoT technology platform, we have not only found an ideal solution for testing IoT systems, but also the basis for further marketplace development.”

Nokia’s private 5G campus wireless solution is based on Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (DAC). Scalable according to needs, Nokia DAC is an industrial-grade digital automation platform that provides a reliable, secure, high-performance private wireless network.  Combining edge computing capability and low latency to support data-intensive applications, DAC users can securely collect, process and host all generated proprietary data on site.

Thomas Hainzel, Head of EMEA Manufacturing & Logistics, Nokia Enterprise, said: “For industrial companies to realize their Industry 4.0 ambitions, it is crucial that they can test IoT solutions and applications in real-life conditions. This requires not only a proven, resilient IoT platform, but also a powerful and secure high bandwidth network. In this case, Nokia provides MYNXG and its ecosystem with the ideal platform for its testing and development work.”

MYNXG operates a globally unique, real-time and secure IoT platform for industrial solutions. The MYNXG platform is designed to protect devices, physical infrastructures and related data to the highest cybersecurity standards. This is achieved by its consistent hardware-based, end-to-end security architecture. It supports all industrial interfaces at the device level, industry protocols and automation standards. 

In addition to scalable cloud services, the MYNXG platform provides straightforward, direct integration into existing business systems and processes. Industrial solutions include condition monitoring for shop floor equipment, product life cycle and process automation, supply chain asset management and access control to sites, processes and data.

Nokia has the most comprehensive portfolio of campus networks on the market, ranging from 4.9G/LTE to 5G non-standalone and 5G standalone. Nokia has more than 220 enterprise customers with private wireless networks worldwide. 5G customers include Deutsche Bahn, Lufthansa Technik and Toyota Production Engineering. Customers can choose between the Nokia Digital Automation Cloud with a range of click and deploy applications or they can customize their network to their needs with Nokia Modular Private Wireless.

ABB Clean Hydrogen and Clean Water Commitments

I have accumulated several pieces of news from ABB. The company has spent the Covid months quite busy.

  • Peter Terwiesch, President of ABB Industrial Automation becomes executive member of the EU Alliance established to kick-start the European hydrogen industry.
  • ABB supports India’s Koppal district to ease water shortages with digital water management solutions.
  • ABB launches ABB Ability Safety Plus for hoists ensuring the highest level of personnel and equipment safety.

Clean Hydrogen Industry

ABB has been granted membership into the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance (ECH2A), the official EU body focused on an ambitious deployment of hydrogen (H2) technologies by 2030, as a means to reduce carbon emissions and help achieve European carbon neutrality by 2050.

Peter Terwiesch

Peter Terwiesch will be ABB’s executive sponsor in the Alliance and will be actively working with governments and other Alliance members to scale up the hydrogen value chain across Europe. 

The use of hydrogen has been identified as crucial to achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal and Europe’s clean energy transition. It has several uses, from storing renewable energy to fuelling heavy transport, and as energy and feedstock in energy-intensive industry, such as in the steel or chemical sectors.

Most importantly, hydrogen only emits water and heat when used, no carbon. In fact, if H2 is produced from renewable sources, the whole hydrogen value chain is carbon-free. Hydrogen thereby is an excellent complement to electricity and offers a solution to decarbonize industrial processes and economic sectors where reducing carbon emissions is both urgent and hard to achieve. 

“Europe’s opportunity to reduce carbon emissions by scaling up the production, transport and use of hydrogen is significant. Automation, electrification and digitalization will play an important role in unlocking this potential. At ABB we are proud to be joining the ECH2A, to continue our collaborations with governments, industries, regulators and academia to further accelerate the implementation of hydrogen,” said Peter Terwiesch, President of ABB Industrial Automation. “We have a unique mix of relevant domain expertise and solutions to support industry and make a real difference in deploying new clean hydrogen technologies.” 

ABB enables the transition from carbon-based fuels to hydrogen through its expertise and portfolio of systems, products, services and digital solutions. The company is collaborating with customers, partners and legislators to build the hydrogen ecosystem – from key technology collaborations to explore large-scale green production systems, to a new hydrogen production facility in France, and the development of megawatt-scale fuel cells to power large ocean-going ships.

“This membership further strengthens our commitment to the UN’s sustainable development goals for 2050, as well as our own commitment to reduce our customers’ carbon footprint by more than 100 Megatonnes per annum through ABB technologies. ECH2A is one of many associations we are part of to actively drive this agenda forward,” Peter Terwiesch continued. 

Digital Water Management in India

In a unique project led by L&T Construction Water & Effluent Treatment IC for the Government of Kartanaka, ABB’s end-to-end solutions will help the local water authority to track, measure, and optimize water use in this drought-stricken region of southwest India, as well as pump and distribute clean treated river water to village homes. The solution includes 635 digital flowmeters and technologies to improve control at pumping stations and reservoirs.

With a population of around one million people, the Koppal district is regularly challenged by water shortages. Until now, responses have ranged from preserving ancient wells to following age-old water conservation practices, but thanks to digital technologies, the Kushtagi and Yelburga villages will soon benefit from ABB’s digital water management solutions as part of a multi-village clean drinking water scheme.

Koppal needed solutions that could effectively monitor water flow and manage leaks to reduce non-revenue water and achieve overall productivity improvement in a widely dispersed water distribution network set-up. L&T Construction Water & Effluent Treatment IC, the lead contractor for the project, chose ABB Ability Symphony Plus SCADA and ABB’s AquaMaster 4 flowmeters for the project, sanctioned by the Rural Water Supply & Sanitation Department, Koppal, Karnataka.

ABB’s engagement spans the end-to-end automation and instrumentation of the project, from the pumping station at the river to the treatment of clean drinking water. The route comprises 620 overhead tanks and 16 reservoirs. The project involves putting in place a network of RTUs (remote terminal units) for remote locations and pumping stations and ABB Ability Symphony Plus SCADA to supervise and control the operation. ABB Ability Symphony Plus SCADA is designed to maximize reliability and availability of water plants and networks through integrated information management, integration of equipment, and process optimization based on the entire water network data for safer and enhanced operations.

The SCADA solutions help monitor and analyze daily flow consumption patterns thereby identifying possible leaks and sending the information in real-time to the central control room. This helps to avert water loss because it means that leaks are identified and can be repaired swiftly. 

ABB’s AquaMaster 4 elctromagnetic flowmeters, running on battery power, will offer reliability even in low flow conditions, in areas where most mechanical flowmeters would fail. They offer measurement accuracy down to flow velocities lower than 0.1m/s where most meters struggle to even detect flow.  As the vast majority of leaks are small but continuous, the ability of AquaMaster to detect small variations in flow is crucial in combating the water shortage challenge in the Koppal district.

G Srinivas Rao, Head of ABB Measurement & Analytics in India, said: “As India moves swiftly towards smart and sustainable villages, towns and cities, one of the key challenges is water management. This project shows how ABB’s digital water management solutions can be deployed not only in cities but also to provide clean, drinking water in the villages that are crucial to our agrarian economy. We are proud partners in this project in the state where ABB India is headquartered, and in the district which contributes so significantly to our agricultural output.”

ABB Ability Safety Plus for hoists

Global technology company ABB is launching ABB Ability Safety Plus for hoists, a suite of mine hoist safety products that brings the highest level of personnel and equipment safety available to the mining industry. The products include Safety Plus Hoist Monitor (SPHM), Safety Plus Hoist Protector (SPHP) and Safety Plus Brake System (SPBS) including Safety Brake Hydraulics (SBH).

Designed in accordance with the international ‘safety of machinery’ standard (IEC62061), the products have been independently certified by research institute RISE (Research Institute of Sweden) which works with companies, academia and the public sector in industrialization, quality assurance and certification.

ABB Ability Safety Plus for hoists includes the new ABB SIL 3 Safety Plus Brake System (SPBS), which is the mining industry’s first fully independently certified Safety Integrity Level 3 (SIL 3) mine hoist brake system. SPBS will increase the safety of personnel riding mine hoists as well as the safety of the equipment, hoist and shaft infrastructure. The new SPHP provides enhanced protection for the mine hoist and mine shaft infrastructure equipment.

ABB SIL 3 SPBS handles the application of the safety brakes during emergency stops and the prevention of brake lift. ABB SIL 3 SPHP monitors the speed and position of the hoists. It also monitors the instrumentation used by personnel accessing or using the hoist from different levels, for example, at gates and maintenance platforms, emergency stop buttons and remote lockout points. The ABB SIL 3 SPHP interfaces with the safety brake system to bring or keep the hoist to a safe state. It also interfaces with the drive and hoist control system.

“This is a significant milestone in mine hoist safety representing a world first for fully certified Safety Integrity Level 3 hoisting,” said Oswald Deuchar, Global Product Line Manager for Hoisting, ABB. “Labor safety is a key priority for mine operators and increasing legislation underlines this imperative. The ABB Ability Safety Plus for hoists suite of products, SIL 3-rated components and self-diagnostics will ensure high availability of the mine hoist while providing the highest level of safety. These products are ready-made safety solutions, which are exhaustively tested in house, and designed for tough mine environments.”

ABB Adaptive Execution For Capital Projects

ABB has been making some news lately. I’ve run projects and supervised project managers in my career, but never those really large capital projects in the energy industries. Maybe $10 million in 1985 dollars. But when they say a new methodology to reduce up to 40 per cent of capital expenditure and 30 per cent of delivery schedule improvements, even I notice. Reading through the release, the key element I picked out had to do with decoupling hardware and software in the automation system. This is something I’ve learned from ABB’s competitors, and something I expect to hear much more about.

  • ABB introduces new, agile method to industrial project execution to help energy customers adapt to challenging market conditions
  • Up to 40 per cent capital expenditure reduction is expected, delivery schedules are expected to be compressed by up to 30 per cent

ABB Adaptive Execution integrates expert teams, new technologies, agile processes, shared learnings, and proven methodologies into a single, streamlined project execution experience for all stakeholders involved in major capital investment projects.

In the energy sector, it is not uncommon for large capital projects to significantly exceed budget and experience extensive delays. ABB Adaptive Execution addresses major inefficiencies that result in cost and schedule overruns. It enables greater visibility across all layers of a project, unlocking significant project value improvements across the energy sector. With digitalization and collaboration at its core, Adaptive Execution is expected to reduce automation related capital expenditure by up to 40 per cent, compress delivery schedules by up to 30 per cent and start-up hours by up to 40 per cent.  

Using virtualization, Adaptive Execution removes the need for engineering on site and reduces the physical hardware required for a control and automation system. By decoupling hardware and software, Adaptive Execution lowers the time and overall setup costs, cutting the number of engineering hours spent on project installation, commissioning and testing by up to 85 per cent.

Peter Terwiesch, President of ABB Industrial Automation said: “2020 has been a year of disruptions across the global energy industry. With falling oil prices, challenges induced by the current lockdowns and the rising demand for sustainable energy investments, companies are looking for new ways to reduce cost, schedule and risk for major projects in this low capex environment. Harnessing advances in digitalization, ABB Adaptive Execution responds to this need and enables capital projects to thrive in the new normal.”

Harnessing efficient modular design, combined with standardized, repeatable processes and shared and effective deployment of infrastructure, tools, and resources, ABB Adaptive Execution centralizes collaboration across all project stakeholders — from a project’s inception through to its successful completion. 

Brandon Spencer, President of ABB Energy Industries commented: “Adaptive Execution will change the way in which customers, Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) contractors and vendors interact. We can create better business value for our customers by creating an environment where everyone can do his or her own part with confidence, empowering delivery teams to achieve more, in less time. This is the key to overall project success.”

www.abb.com