Simplifying Solar System Installation With MatrixScan-Enabled Commissioning App

SunPower™, a leading solar technology and energy services provider, re-engineered automated workflows by integrating fast and accurate MatrixScan barcode scanning in their commissioning app, SunPower Pro Connect. MatrixScan accelerated the process, saving up to 20 minutes compared to the previous method, eliminating data errors and improving the app’s usability, enabling technicians to commission systems correctly without the need for revisits or remote service.

Scandit’s MatrixScan barcode scanning solution in the app enhances our commissioning workflow, making discovering and claiming of devices for monitoring seamless, fast and effective. Our technicians and installers are incredibly excited about using the SunPower Pro Connect app, as it simplifies the installation process and lets them complete their work faster and more accurately.
Rex Liu, Director of Product Management, SunPower

Challenge

Automated workflow gaps compromise service commissioning

SunPower delivers innovative solar and battery storage system sales and services to US business and residential customers. The residential business has a high volume of installations, making it paramount to improve the speed and accuracy of service commissioning: a final, but critical step in the company’s solar power system installation process.

Previously, SunPower relied on a powerline broadcast discovery process, where their monitoring system would transmit a signal to any solar microinverters attached to the system and wait for a return signal. This information is necessary for system activation and monitoring purposes. While this was often a sufficient process, technicians who install solar power systems with SunPower’s previous commissioning app experienced:

  • Incorrect device associations: Owing to signal interference from other microinverters in areas with a high saturation of solar panels, SunPower’s monitoring device may not be able to discover all of the microinverters connected to the system.  Additionally, because powerline communication is utilized, it was possible to detect microinverters from adjacent systems and “poach” them to report to the wrong monitoring device. This affected system monitoring and compromised not only the technician’s user experience, but also the end customer’s.
  • Time-consuming processes: Before SunPower Pro Connect, technicians configured solar systems using their laptop to connect to SunPower’s monitoring device. With the broadcast discovery process, transmitting data to and from the various microinverters took between 10 to 15 minutes to discover just a handful of devices (~20). Because solar systems vary in size, this time significantly increased with larger installations, in particular those with 50 or more microinverters. Additionally, managing a laptop while transmitting data in an external environment was not user-friendly.
We had to improve the usability of our service to installers who spent all day installing solar equipment, which could take up to an hour, a significant amount of time configuring the system. So, we decided to reengineer our commissioning workflow and make it a mobile application. We wanted to get rid of signal interference issues, ensure information accuracy, improve the speed of transmission, and enhance the overall commissioning process.
Rick Mellor, Director of IoT, SunPower

Solution

Re-engineer installation workflows: integrate barcode scanning in a new commissioning app

As SunPower had asset tags with barcodes on all devices to be installed, they decided to fix the signal interference issues and inaccurate panel recognition by introducing a simple step into the workflow – scanning the barcode labels on the microinverter devices before they are mounted.

SunPower trialled an open source barcode scanning service in-house. This failed to deliver the scanning clarity and accuracy they wanted, especially when a high volume of barcodes had to be scanned, or when scanning in poor lighting conditions, at a distance, and at odd angles.

The company researched further and selected Scandit’s barcode scanner SDK with MatrixScan, to integrate with their SunPower Pro Connect app. The app is available on Android and iOS platforms for technicians to install on their BYOD (bring your own) device or company-provided smartphones or tablets. The re-engineered workflow with barcode scanning offers several advantages:

  • Time-savings: Commissioning technicians place barcode tags (stickers) from multiple solar panels, which can range from a minimum of 6 to up to 100 stickers on a sheet of paper, and scan the 100 stickers in a grid faster and efficiently, all in a single scan with MatrixScan – saving substantial time and effort.
  • Zero errors: Scandit’s barcode scanning solution eliminates data inconsistencies owing to signal interference from other microinverters – ensuring that the barcodes associated with all solar panels installed at a site are accurately scanned and accounted for inventory management and proof of completion. Barcodes are captured accurately, whether they are scanned in poor lighting conditions, at distances, or placed on uneven surfaces.
  • Monitoring and troubleshooting: Poaching of a monitoring device’s data association no longer poses a threat, as all solar panel barcodes are scanned using the app, streamlining the device discovery process, whilst ensuring trouble-free performance and accuracy in monitoring. Technicians no longer need to revisit sites to rectify commissioning errors, saving time and money. If troubleshooting is needed, it is done remotely and resolved fairly quickly.

Results

To commission systems compared to up to 60 mins it took for the process earlier
20 mins
Data accuracy and faster scans of multiple barcodes with MatrixScan
100%
Commissioning technicians use the Scandit-powered app
>70%

Superfast MatrixScan delivers data accuracy and swift installations

Speedy scanning with Scandit’s MatrixScan reduced the time taken to commission solar power systems to just under 20 minutes, compared to the 60 minutes for the process earlier. Zero errors from accurate scanning through a mobile device improved operational efficiencies and the commissioning technicians’ user experience – saving them 10 minutes owing to less paperwork.

The Scandit-powered commissioning app is currently used by 70 percent of SunPower’s technicians, with usage planned to cover all technicians through training sessions. Over the long term, the company aims to capitalize on the analytics it gleans from their users’ solar power monitoring systems to identify alternative product services. All this is underpinned by the accuracy that Scandit’s barcode scanning solution offers SunPower for monitoring and asset management.

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