Development Engineer Graeme Shield is the mastermind behind Romag's developments in solar. When he's not on site working with contractors on installations he's in the on-site development centre testing and improving products. Here he talks to Renewable Energy Installer on his working week...
After the usual start-of-week review of emails and future diary commitments, Monday normally begins by assessing and reviewing the latest customer BIPV requirements, which are usually relayed from architects to our sales team.
As the main point of contact for new BIPV projects and products, the process usually begins by considering initial design concepts and using these to develop autocad drawings of proposed BIPV solutions for manufacture at our premises.
The architect provides the specification for what is required and we link this to technical factors associated with the integration of the PV cell into the required building component.
As well as traditional size, shape, tint and colour considerations, we also need to take in U values, solar factor, type of glass laminate required, levels of transparency and power generation needs – as well as fixings to enable the PV glass panels to be incorporated
seamlessly into a new building.
We could be handling requests for BIPV systems for a number of different architectural projects with different lead times at any one time, so keeping all projects moving forward on schedule is a real priority.
Every Tuesday morning, we will hold a product development review, headed by our technical director.
By their nature, almost all BIPV requests are bespoke and require individual design and manufacturing solutions to suit a particular project. However, in recent months we have introduced a ‘standardised’ range of roof integrated PV tiles under the Intecto brand. These incorporate the PV cell within the tile, so that it forms part of the roof and follows the line of the roof tile course. The response to the product has been very good, but we operate a process of continuous development to respond to any technical issues raised on site, developing new colour matches and identifying new fixing, sealing and flashing solutions.
During the course of the day I will spend some time trialling new Intecto fixing brackets on a special mock roof section installed in our development centre. From these tests we will develop the first prototype products that will be submitted for formal approval to the appropriate IEC and BRE standards.
Today I spend most of the day with our glass production teams to ensure the smooth transition from design to manufacture of some new BIPV glass panels that will be used as curved louvres and canopies in a prestigious new office block in London. Initial trial samples have been accepted by the client and we are now moving into a full production run.
Most of our BIPV systems are supplied to clients on site for installation by specialist contractors. However, we also provide installation training for some of our specialist products and today we have representatives from a renewables installation company in Jersey coming to our base in Consett for a special structured session on how our roof integrated products are installed.
In the afternoon I take the opportunity to visit a local site where a national housebuilder is installing Intecto tiling systems for the first time. Getting practical installer feedback from live rooftop projects is really important for our ongoing product development programme.
Friday tends to be a mainly desk-based day when I can catch up with administrative work, ensure that all design drawings are up to date and confirm Bills of Materials (BoMs) for our various PV products and BIPV systems as part internal budget controls and checks. Time at my desk also enables me to follow up on technical enquiries and provide support to any installation teams out on site who require further advice or guidance.