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Solar lantern assembly workshop

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Solar lantern assembly in Ghana
Solar lantern assembly in Ghana
Assembled lanterns in Sunyani
Assembled lanterns in Sunyani

Contents

Key features

In addition to providing solar lanterns, the SOLUX project focuses on developing inexpensive assembly methods that can be easily implemented in third world countries, as well as on transferring manufacturing and maintenance know-how. In contrast to other products manufactured by industrialized countries, special attention is paid to ensure that the lanterns could be easily assembled by trained personnel using the simple tools available in third world countries. Job creation and the transfer of know-how are as important as providing efficient solar lanterns. Therefore, a significant portion of the production of the SOLUX-LED-100 as well as the sale and maintenance of the lanterns is done by specially equipped SOLUX-workshops in developing countries.

To help establish workshops in southern countries SOLUX supplies:

  • Prefabrication and assembly tools
  • Parts for lanterns and panels for the SOLUX-LED-100
  • Know-how for the workshop employees

Putting into operation

Rooms

A room of about 20 to 30 square meters is required. The rooms should be clean and bright. Electrical power is useful for the operation of a drill and a soldering iron, but is not required as SOLUX assembly shops can be operated without electrical power. A hand drill and a small 6-V-soldering iron or a 12-V solar-panel with a 12-Volt soldering gun will be delivered if there is no electrical power available.

The assembly workshop should be equipped with 3 workbenches. Five square meters of cabinet or shelf space should be also available for a clear arrangement of the components, semi-assembled products and tools (at least one lockable cabinet for valuable parts is also necessary.)

Personnel

You need locally in the developing country an organisation to run the workshop and sell the lanterns. The number of employees required depends mainly on the number of lamps that are to be sold. The equipment allows for up to 5 employees in maximum per assembly shop working at the same time, but a reasonable number of employees is 3-4. It takes about 4 work hours to assemble a complete solar lantern.

A responsible shop manager, who should have technical training or adequate engineering experience, is required. One of the employees should be knowledgeable in electrical engineering, in order to be able to measure electricity and voltage, and to carry out fault diagnostics. All other employees can be trained; they should have craftsmanship and willingness to work diligently and accurately.

Work that needs to be done is mainly:

  • Cutting (scissors) and gluing of raw materials
  • Drilling, riveting, soldering, joining
  • Controlling, testing
  • Assembly.

Tools

SOLUX offers a special toolkit for the production of the lanterns and panels. The toolkit for the lamp assembly consists of

  • soldering iron
  • several devices and appliances for pre-fabrication and assembly (for punching, bending, riveting and other processes) and
  • a plug charger as well as a multi-meter for electrical testing.

The following common standard tools are not supplied. We assume that they are preexisting or can be acquired in the country:

Should be provided from local partner:
1 pair working gloves
1 pcs snips (210 mm)
1 drilling machine (electrical)
1 saw (fine) for wood
1 set felt pens (4 pieces, permanent, different colours)
1 hammer (500 gr)
1 combination pliers
1 tape measure 2 m (folding rule)
1 bottle alcohol for cleaning
1 kitchen-scissors
1 pack sandpaper, granulation 100 (10 pieces)
2 knifes ( also called carpet knife)
2 packs blades for carpet knife(10 stripes = 70 knife elements)
1 set screwdrivers 3,5-8 mm (5 pieces)
1 vice ( widht 100 mm, opening 120 mm)
1 ruler of steel (min. 500 mm)

Set of parts

SOLUX supplies finished products (SOLUX-LED-50) and sets of parts (SOLUX-LED-100), that can be assembled in a solar workshop in the country of destination. Normally the shipment is sent by sea. SOLUX recommends to negotiate duty free import and to calculate the real selling costs including VAT, assembly, marketing costs, margin etc. Shipping by boat and clearance through customs may take several months. Please keep this in mind.

Training of staff

Getting a workshop up and running in developing countries is normally done by a trainer from the “Senior Expert Service” (SES), which is a society of retired experts who assist in projects in developing countries. A trainer of the SES usually starts the operation of an assembly shop on site. The senior experts who start up SOLUX assembly shops have been trained in the workshops in Dresden and are familiar with all production steps. The commissioning usually takes about 2-3 weeks with 3-4 employees also being trained.

Cost calculation

The following table shows the cost of equipment for a new solar-lantern workshop to be delivered by SOLUX (except local cost like room rent, wages, etc.):

Item Cost per unit Required number of units Total costs
Set of parts for 100 lanterns € 46,00 100 € 4.600,00
Set of tools € 180,00 1 € 180,00
Sample lantern ready to use € 86,00 1 € 86,00
Total cost (may 2009) € 5.516,00

Please take note, that transport fees and customs duties for this equipment has to be paid by the client, too.

The initial phase to put the workshop into operation cause additional one-time costs for the SES trainer. The following costs have to be covered by the client:

  • Accomodation of trainer
  • Pocket money for trainer (10$/day): for 15 days 150$

Travel expenses of the trainer are usually paid by the German Government (BMZ). The client only has to pay for accommodation and meals (as well as an allowance).

Marketing and sales

SOLUX offers posters

Sell the lanterns and do not give them away for free. Invest in advertisement and marketing. Produce a written product information to sell the lanterns. In any case you should arrange some ideas how you can help your clients to finance the lanterns. For example: The user pays 50 % of the kerosene price he would spent for a kerosene lantern, or you negotiate a small loan with a local bank or a specialized microcredit bank as the internet based micro credit organization Kiva Microfunds.

SOLUX offers some additional documents to market solar lanterns like FAQ, a booklet for teachers to train this subject at schools, samples for posters etc. Advertisement, marketing and financing of solar lanterns in developing countries on a real cost basis is a challenge for all parties involved. This is surely a difficult task for NGOs and humanitarian organizations.

The results

With the SOLUX concept the developing countries are involved as partners. As far as possible, the manufacture, maintenance and sale of the SOLUX lanterns is managed by local partners in specially equipped workshops. This concept not only ensures that people in poorer countries will be able to buy lanterns at reasonable prices (due to the low labor costs), but that they will also be able to manufacture, sell and maintain these lanterns on their own.

The SOLUX workshop program presents a new method of work-sharing between North and South, a method that works as "DOOR OPENER" for the innovative solar technique. A SOLUX solar workshop may be a contribution to train and educate people and to produce public awareness for renewable energies.

Who promotes the technology?

The described solar lanterns and the SOLUX concept are promoted by SOLUX e.V., Germany.

Examples of applications

Example 1

Example 2

References

All information of this article is provided by SOLUX e.V., Germany.

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