The PLC system which controls the machinery in the plants and the industrial cloud is a key part of JinkoSolar’s plan to boost productivity and quality consistency by creating a digital production platform with common interfaces for all kinds of equipment. JinkoSolar is creating a data pool that will suck information from systems and sensors in all of its factories. The data will be used to develop and train machine-learning models for things such as predictive maintenance that can be deployed within plants, or to optimize operations across them.
If a better process for monitoring quality in a PECVD or a lamination shop is developed in one location, it can be applied easily by others because of the same software languages and protocols. This also makes it easier to control costs and spin up production of new models quickly. Over time, all of JinkoSolar’s plants will be brought onto the platform and production teams will be able to share applications that can be implemented in all of its factories.
There’s still big challenge to turn an initial pilot in a single plant to full-scale deployments, which is where the real benefits of digitization kick in. In particular, smart-factory projects require IT teams to work closely with operational technology groups managing machinery and other tech inside factories. Therefore, David Lee, Chairman of JinkoSolar is sending a strong signal to his respective teams about the need for tight collaboration. The two factories which make cells and modules, respectively, were chosen partly to highlight the fact that this intelligent manufacturing project will span all of its activities.
JinkoSolar sees the shift as essential if it’s to compete successfully in a fast-changing market. The company is also developing an “end-end” smart chain, integrating its sales management, order fulfillment, and supplier management into production operation. In the future, once an order comes in, each key step is standing by. In addition, once its suppliers are integrated into this system, JinkoSolar will be able to leverage more of their data to boost the resilience of its supply chain and logistics operations to minimize risks.
“Digitalization isn’t just a marketing slogan or a supporting function now,” says David Lee, “It is becoming a driving force and we’ll show you it works.”