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Reliable Solar Wafer Detection in Wafer Separation Systems with Sick’s INOX Sensors

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Sick  specialises in a wide range of sensor solutions for diverse industrial applications.  

INOX sensors from Sick are being used for the reliable detection of moistened wafers in automatic wafer separation systems.  

ACI-ecotec GmbH & Co. KG in Zimmern ob Rottweil, Germany is the global market leader in a number of product sectors within the business field of photovoltaics. One such sector is the ecoSplit wafer separation systems range for sawn, pre-cleaned solar wafers.  

For the ecoSplit-IXL system featuring a capacity of up to 4,300 wafers per hour, the company sought a reliable solution for detecting the wafers.  

The nature of the process demanded a robust solution for two reasons:

  • The sensors coming into contact with a slurry in the preliminary process (demineralised water with acidic and particulate constituents)
  • The moistening of the wafers during separation

Despite high enclosure rating specifications, the sensors supplied by other manufacturers encountered a number of problems. Water in the plug and inside the housing caused regular system failure, leading to downtimes as well as high maintenance and servicing expenses.  

While looking for a solution, the attention of the ACI-ecotec staff was drawn to the INOX sensors from Sick.  

INOX photoelectric proximity switches from Sick  

WTB4S-3 INOX photoelectric proximity switches from Sick were selected for these reasons: 

  • The sensor's housing technology is designed for maximum possible tightness and material resistance, far exceeding the requirements for IP69K
  • INOX photoelectric proximity switch was the only device that disallowed penetration of water into the plug or housing
  • No external signs to indicate that the sensors were susceptible to material damage or corrosion
  • Detection capabilities of the INOX photoelectric proximity switch showed it to be the best sensor in its class in nearly all areas
  • The sensor fulfils all the requirements for maintenance-free use with high availability in the automatic wafer separation systems of ACI-ecotec

Key benefits of Sick’s sensors:

  • High tightness and material resistance prevents plant downtime and improves separation volume
  • Sensor concept makes commissioning simpler and guarantees high detection reliability
  • Compact design saves mounting space
  • Less downtime means improved availability and capacity for the automatic separation systems
  • Special optics makes it easier to align and commission the sensors
  • Best-in-class detection performance for the separation process
  • Broad range of electronic and solar products solves a variety of tasks from a single source
  • Global support guarantees quick response times for ACI-ecotec customers

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