Category Archives: Blog

See KMI’s New Products at SPI in Anaheim, September 24th-27th

We are excited to be an exhibitor at the Solar Power International 2018 (SPI) show in Anaheim, CA, September 24th-27th. SPI is the largest solar trade show in North America and our booth (#113) will feature our reliable, high quality and high-performance solar tracker drives and solutions.

This year we are introducing several new and innovative families of solar-specific products, suited for all types of solar tracker applications.

As the global solar industry forges ahead, photovoltaic (PV) trackers continue to lead the way in lowering the cost of solar energy generation. Tracker manufacturers are challenged to continuously increase energy yield (kWh) while minimizing system lifetime cost ($/W – initial cost + maintenance cost + repair cost). KMI continuous development and solar actuation innovation allow tracker makers to keep reducing system cost and increasing yield to meet the challenge!

We at KMI are proud of the fact that more than 650,000 of our solar drives power over 10GW of PV trackers worldwide, and we can help your team develop leading-edge tracking solutions that incorporate features such as:

  • Distributed or centralized actuation
  • Single row or ganged trackers
  • Exterior/Interior row tracker variants
  • Single-module-wide or multiple-module-wide tracker rows, including bi-facial panels
  • Self-powered or centrally powered drives
  • Lifetime drive validation to the industry’s highest standards (Kinematics Validation Lab)

Stop by our SPI booth to chat with one of our experts about your specific tracking needs and applications.

Higher Performance, Lower Cost Solar Actuation

After months of diligent development by the Kinematics global team, and hundreds of hours of testing at the Kinematics Validation Lab, we are pleased to introduce our new HE6 product line, engineered for the perfect balance of cost and performance, for distributed row solar tracker actuation.

Kinematics is meeting the ever-increasing requirements of our segment-leading customers through best-in-class engineering of all components in our solar actuation products. Through this exhaustive effort, we’ve been able to increase the dynamic and static load capacities of smaller form-factor drives, leading to cost reduction, material optimization and drive efficiency improvement.

Better Performance and Efficiency

Well matched static and dynamic performance is what matters most in low speed rotary actuation. Where competing drives show anywhere from low 20% – 30% efficiency, Kinematics HE6 demonstrates >40% efficiency through all dynamic loading conditions, throughout the 30 year accelerated life test of the drive.

Lower Cost

The HE6 is over 25% less mass than our HE8 drive but with similar dynamic and static performance capacity. Customers of our HE6 product are saving directly from less material without compromising performance. This is due specifically to advanced engineering and manufacturing processes allowing the drives to attain higher performance than ever before.

What does the Future hold?

Kinematics is continuing to push the envelope on engineering for cost-performance in low speed rotary actuation. Kinematics will be releasing several new product architectures this year, for controlled actuation of all types of solar tracker: distributed row, linked row, single module in portrait, dual module in portrait, large span single actuator, highly distributed actuation. Kinematics will also be announcing additional torque management products specifically designed for PV trackers.

Visit with Kinematics at Solar Power International, September in Anaheim, CA

Join us at booth 113 at SPI in Anaheim September 25-27 to see our wide range of PV tracker actuation solutions and talk with our team about your tracker needs.

Kinematics Moves BIG IDEAS!

The Kinematics team is proud and happy to be involved in bringing our customers’ products and applications to life, by providing them with movement. KMI slew drives provide an easy-to-use and cost-effective way to rotate large loads over long operational lifetimes.

Although slew and worm gears have been used for centuries, our customers are continually coming up with new BIG IDEAS and turning to KMI to provide the means to move their ideas! Some of the BIG IDEAS we’ve worked with clients on recently include these:

  • BIG IDEA: Rotate the Workpiece instead of the Welder
    • Fabricating large welded structures, such as railroad cars and truck chassis, typically requires the welder (human or robotic) to move around, over and under the workpiece. This is slow, inefficient, difficult and unsafe. Using the high torque capability of KMI slew drives, it’s possible to rotate huge workpieces so that a stationary welder can be used – increasing efficiency, lowering costs and injuries.
  • BIG IDEA: Global Internet with Low Earth Orbit Satellites
    • The cost of putting satellites into orbit has decreased enormously over the last 5 years. Many companies are now deploying large numbers of low earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations for low-latency consumer internet and communications. Since LEO satellites move rapidly across the sky, it is necessary for antennas to track them in real-time, with up to three axes of movement. KMI single and dual axis slew drives are well suited to these trackers – we’re seeing more customers working on this big idea.
  • BIG IDEA: Position the patient instead of the Doctor
    • Much like the welding positioning BIG IDEA, historically doctors operating on patients would have to stoop over and position people in awkward poses in order to access the incision site. Again, this is inefficient and dangerous. Using KMI compact slew drives it’s possible to make elegant and functional medical and operating beds that can be positioned in multiple dimensions, to hold the patient safely and present them to the doctor so that the surgery can be performed for best results.
  • BIG IDEA: Track the Sun to Power the Planet
    • Solar tracking – although tracking the sun to produce more solar energy has been around for over a decade, only in the last 3-4 years has this become a multi-billion dollar global market, and solar power is now a meaningful contributor to the world’s energy picture. For large solar power plants, tracking the sun is now the most common approach – and KMI is the world’s largest rotation supplier to this market.

Kinematics – Investing in Quality and Performance

Our global Kinematics team is very proud of our history of innovation, and the resulting improvements in quality, performance and value we have been able to deliver to our customers worldwide. Continuous innovation requires continuous investment, and we’re proud to announce significant new investments which not only accelerate our ability to innovate, but which also bring quality, performance and value improvements to our legacy products and customers.

There’s an adage – “you can’t improve what you can’t measure” – the first step in continuous improvement is to establish how to measure what you want to improve! Kinematics has always used industry-standard measurement equipment, including computerized CMM (Coordinate Measuring Machine). In late 2017, Kinematics installed a new state-of-the-art precision 4-axis gear inspection CMM system from a leading European supplier of advanced metrology equipment. This gear CMM allows Kinematics to measure gears we manufacture to the highest industry specification accuracies (ISO/DIN Class/Group 1, AGMA 15). Kinematics has commissioned custom development of software for this advanced CMM machine for measurement of our proprietary “hourglass” worms – this represents a unique and industry-leading measurement capability.

Once you have the ability to measure, you can improve what you’re making. Typically, the next limitation is in the tools you use to make the item – and as you improve you’ll often have to improve those tools, too. To provide a clear pathway for gear and worm innovation, Kinematics is installing, in the first quarter of 2018, two state-of-the-art, automated Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) hobbing machines – hobbing being the principal process by which gears are cut. These machines significantly decrease gear cutting times and increase throughput – while cutting to much finer tolerances than legacy hobbing machines. This capability allows Kinematics to bring further advances in value (cost/performance), quality and plant capacity (scale). Once again, Kinematics leads the way in the worm/gear segment, with gear manufacturing capabilities well beyond our competitors.

Kinematics is leveraging these investments into multiple new product lines, driven by our customers’ application requirements, with all-new standards of performance, value and quality.

Innovate and Protect! Tap into Kinematics’ Innovation Engine!

In fast moving global markets, continuous innovation is required to maintain differentiation and a competitive edge. Companies need to develop active sources of innovation, including suppliers who demonstrate the ability to innovate. It’s necessary to have strong partners who invest in innovation and deliver on product roadmaps to stay ahead in today’s markets.

Innovators must protect their innovations. This is to be sure they recoup their investments, but also ensure that their customers receive the full value of the invention, so that value is not diluted or lost due to counterfeit imitations. This extends to suppliers too. Innovative suppliers who protect their intellectual property protect their customers’ value as well.

Kinematics was founded based on multiple key innovations – including the hourglass worm and integration of worm and gear drives into a common housing. Previously, equipment manufacturers would assemble worm-gear functionality into their products using loose gears and custom mounts and enclosures. The Kinematics family of integrated hourglass worm/slew drives were very well accepted as a better cost/performance alternative. Today Kinematics is recognized as the world-wide market leader in industrial slew and solar tracking drives.

Kinematics continues to invest heavily in innovation, and to innovate widely to deliver our customers the very best value in actuation solutions. Kinematics’ long list of innovations includes:

  • Hourglass worm design
  • Vertical-mount drives
  • Integrated raceway drives
  • Integrated torque tube output interfaces
  • Dual axis drives
  • Solar tracking optimized drives

Kinematics has developed a large and robust global Intellectual Property portfolio, and actively manages this portfolio to ensure our customers have access to the best technologies and the best products from the market’s most innovative supplier, without fear of inferior counterfeit copies.

Kinematics works closely with our customers to drive forward-looking product and technology roadmaps to rapidly evolve actuation in parallel with evolving market demands. Contact us today so we can discuss your innovation roadmap, and how we can join forces to develop disruptive, differentiated, high-value products!