CASE STUDY: Value Engineering and Prototype Testing for Solar

Between 2011 and 2013, BCI formed a deep partnership with a solar company startup who had pioneered a state-of-the-art tracking system for utility-scale solar projects. The price point in the market was known, and the challenge was engineering a product to be both true to the structural requirements of the design, while searching out as many cost savings as possible to exceed market price expectations.

The project involved:

  • Switching out complex weldments for simple and stronger castings; reducing the general steel footprint.
  • Specifying materials that were commercially and commonly available in the manufacturing market (China).
  • Working with the designer to tool up various trial configurations, and to identify those design aspects most (or least) optimal for future lean manufacturing.
  • Prototyping design iterations and testing them on the factory grounds.
  • Taking out additional weight and testing the results.
  • Trial-testing various corrosion resistance applications for optimal costs, and salt-spray testing various configurations.
  • Installing Wifi cameras on the factory test grounds in China so that a prototype system could run 24-hours and be remotely monitored by the customer in the USA.
  • Performing weight-load testing at the factory for optimal structural integrity.

The result was the customer was able to go to the market with an optimal product, right-sized to the application, and at the right price point. This was done in a matter of months, at extremely low costs, which allowed the customer to enter the market in record time and capture significant market share.

The process was repeated on an almost quarterly basis as new design variations were added to the product list.