The 101+ Pieces of A Solar Install

I have come to understand that there is no insignificant piece in a puzzle, every piece is required for the whole.  Similarly, a solar installation has hundreds of pieces, none insignificant. My job, as the inventory manager, is not to put them together, but to make sure we have them all.  From the beginning to the end of a solar project, there are many steps to a successful solar installation. One that is probably the least noticed is inventory.  My piece of an installation is to provide our installation team with the necessary materials, tools, and equipment to complete a solar install safely and efficiently. Even though I won’t be at the install, I need to make sure everything our team will need is on site.

Once Project Management notifies me that an installation has been scheduled, my first step is to pull up and review the customer’s file. I carefully read through all their project documents examining elements such as their Solar Design Packet, Electrical Diagram (ED), Installation Checklist and any special notes for that job. The Solar Design Packet displays a step-by-step blueprint of the panel layout and the electrical equipment.  The Electrical Diagram is a three-line diagram showing all the electrical elements of the project. Although the ED is created by designers and engineers, I  serve as a checks-and-balance. I rerun calculations and double check the amperage ratings, wires sizes, disconnects, fuses, and breakers.  That way I am sure we are stocking the correct materials for that job.  Our proprietary Rayah Solar Installation Checklist comprises hundreds of small and large pieces.  The Installation Checklist consists of nine pages of every material and tool that is needed for an install and that is our guide force for stocking the van.  With our inventory crew, we go through this checklist like Santa, checking it twice; first by checking and staging each item and, second, once each item is in the van, making that final checkmark.   

 

Prior to each installation, we prepare the designated van by taking everything out of it and thoroughly cleaning it.  Next, we separate the inventory tasks into four sections, Solar, Electrical, Safety & Sanitation, and Tools.

Exclusive solar components include items such as flash feet, lag screws, mid & end clamps, wire management clips, and rail screws – just to name a few.  Other solar specialty items include roof mounted junction boxes and even heavy duty caulking.  Some items, like mid clamps, we unpack from their boxes (how they are shipped) and then combine them in more accessible bins or containers for our installers.

For the electricals components, we count, organizing and restock the items in electrical bins. Electrical materials include conduit connectors, couplings, wire, fuses, screws, nails and about 100 other small pieces. I cannot emphasize enough, if even one of these small items is missing, it really screws up our installation, so our attention to detail here has to be meticulous.

Our Safety and Sanitation materials keep our installers safe and our customer’s homes clean. This can vary from ropes and harnesses to bodysuits for hazardous attic conditions. Perhaps one of our most important items – sanitary booties – keep our customer’s homes clean (no dirt tracked in)!

The tool bags are strategically organized, separated by needs –  solar installers on the roof, electrical work, drills, etc.  We pack a specific bags for installers on the roof and different bags for electricians on the ground.

After the solar materials are organized, we are ready to actually stock the van. We start by packing all the van shelves with electrical bins, junction boxes, load centers, disconnects, safety and sanitation materials, and other items that belong on the shelves. Next, we put in the wires and rope bags. From that point, the order is as follows, the remaining bags, plywood, conduit pipes, ladders and then the smaller solar items. Before shutting the van doors, I do a final call of all the items on the checklist to make sure no items were forgotten.

My final piece of inventory and van stocking is to gather the paperwork; a design packet, installation packet, bill of materials, the town permit, certificate of completion, installation checklist, and solar warning labels (these are placed on the installed solar equipment). After these documents are placed in the van, I take a breath – my piece of the solar installation is complete!

I hope this blog gives you some insight into the behind the scenes activities of Rayah Solar. I hope you can see that even with something as seemingly insignificant as inventory and stocking a van, we at Rayah Solar take great pride in performing every task with excellence.  We believe that is part of the “Rayah Experience.”  

 

Article Written By YahNissi Ndukwe

 

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