Ikhwezi Solar (Pty) Ltd are an SABS approved manufacturer of Flat Plate Solar Thermal Collectors operating on the ISO 9001 Quality Management System

T: +27 (0)43 701 8000

F: +27 (0)43 731 1016

piet@ikhwezisolar.co.za

Who we are

Ikhwezi Solar Main Office Building
Ikhwezi Solar is part of the Ikhwezi Investment Group, an organisation with a 63% black shareholding and interests in automotive component manufacturing, property, security and the renewable energy sector. Ikhwezi Solar was formed to produce a locally manufactured solar thermal collector of world class quality, offering a superior alternative to imported products, at affordable prices.

Our Vision

The vision of the company also includes assisting in addressing the energy challenges faced in South Africa, as they relate to security of supply and renewable alternatives to coal, whilst at the same time contributing to economic development through investment in local manufacture and job creation.

Our Facility

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The R10 million plant was designed and built in Germany, transported to the Eastern Cape and commissioned within Ikhwezi Solar’s 1000m² purpose built facility. The plant itself was designed using green building principles. Natural lighting systems provide the lighting for the factory floor, with water requirements being met by a 20000 litre rainwater harvesting system. Water heating is independent of electrical backup, with Ikhwezi Solar’s collectors providing the heating.

The facility produces a locally and internationally tested collector, with performance results which place it amongst the most efficient. The iSun© collector is the first next generation collector to be produced locally. Ikhwezi Solar is proud to be able to bring its offering to the market place.

Solar thermal absorbers are necessary for the conversion of solar radiation into energy and the Ikhwezi Solar laser welding process is the most advanced and commercially viable technology for their industrial mass-production. Laser welding offers excellent process quality and increased production speed and efficiency compared to conventional methods.

Full-surface absorbers for thermal flat-plate collectors are produced by welding copper tubes in ‘harp’ arrangements onto a base plate. The laser welding process used by Ikhwezi Solar solves the inherent problems of welding the necessary material combinations, for example copper tubing and aluminium sheets. A pulsed laser melts and alloys small areas of tube and sheet metal (i.e. the exact amount of heat is applied to the absorber) at the exact welding point. This minimizes the heat affected zone so that the absorber layer remains intact, which guarantees the optimum energy efficiency of the flat-plate collectors.

Manufacturing process

Our manufacturing process is flexible enough to allow for the customisation of collector specification to meet a particular client’s needs. As well as offering product to plumbers, installers, wholesalers, agents and for export, product can be manufactured and branded on an OEM basis.

CollectorThe iSun collector has a number of features making it unique in a South African manufacturing context and resulting in a product of exceptional performance and durability.

Daily tensile tests are conducted on weld samples to ensure superior weld strength and longevity of product. The welding process successfully negates any issues of galvanic corrosion, as well as preventing absorber damage during the welding process itself, both key features not achievable using competing techniques.

Raw material quality and specification are not compromised in the manufacturing process, resulting in a collector of highest efficiency and resultant short financial payback. Our collector is comfortably backed with a 10 year warranty, with an externally tested life expectancy in excess of 25 years .

Minsiter Dipuo Peters officially opens ikhwezi solar

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Ikhwezi Solar was greatly honored to have the Minister of Energy, Mrs Dipou Peters, officially open the solar collector manufacturing facility on the 27 October 2011. The following is a synopsis of the Minister’s keynote address.

Government’s position

Since the mid-1990s, the African National Congress (ANC) has remained consistent in its position on environmental issues which are inextricably linked to the sustainable development of our country. These issues are reflected in many of our government’s strategic documents and informed the various policies, programmes and interventions since 1994, in particular the Department of Energy’s national solar water heating (SWH) programme.


Solar water heaters fit with policy

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Government is to ensure all South Africans have access to energy services and that “building a better life for all” does not only remain political rhetoric. Government is using SWH technology to deliver hot water energy services to under-served communities, in rural areas, as well as to address demand side management in middle and upper income residences.

Apart from the SWH programme, government has introduced new building regulations aimed at ensuring that SWH’s become a lifestyle within South Africa, much the same way as electric geysers have been. This supportive regulatory framework and planning tools, which speaks to new buildings and the retrofitting of existing buildings respectively, have made it possible for all SWH technology localisation efforts to take hold in creating a self-sustaining local and regional SWH market.

I commend Ikhwezi Solar for having the vision and foresight to meet this government halfway

Job creation

Creating new green jobs is crucial in stemming the tide on the unemployment rate, which is reaching unprecedented proportions across the country.The Eastern Cape in particular “remains trapped in structural poverty”. The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) released a report indicating that about 27% of the population of the Eastern Cape is unemployed. An initiative such as the opening of this manufacturing facility is one step towards turning the tide. I commend Ikhwezi Solar for having the vision and foresight to meet this government halfway. Every job that is created will make a difference, not only to an individual who is employed, but to a family who depends on that individual for their maintenance.

Energy costs

Energy costs
Amid rising electricity prices, the utilisation of technologies such as solar water heaters enables free and sustainable exploitation of natural resources which in the end lowers the costs of using electricity.In other words, this technology will increasingly enable households to achieve significantly high savings in electricity cost as the forecasted increase in the cost of electricity will be offset by the reduced consumption that results from the SWH installation. Ikhwezi Solar’s is a welcome contribution, as we need to make sure that wherever there is a need for hot water, solar water heaters are indeed adopted as the preferred option.

this technology will increasingly enable households to achieve significantly high savings in electricity cost

Local content

The SWH technology localisation requirement in the country is no longer questionable. We definitely want to ensure that the dependence on imports from other countries is better managed to our domestic advantage through the introduction of local manufacturing plants, with the right capacity and quality standards to meet the demand as indicated in our policy targets.

Our growing SWH market needs the establishment of a well-founded local manufacturing base, that will exert the much needed downward pressures on the capital cost of solar water heaters, create work opportunities and enhance our country’s capability to develop environmentally sound technologies. The desired end state of the Department of Energy is to see SWH being one of the most commercialized and popularised clean energy technologies in the country.

South Africa cannot remain a spectator in her own backyard whilst our market continues to be flooded with imports of various qualities from all over the globe. We need to ensure the move towards localisation.

For a full transcript of the Ministers speech, please click here

Commissioning the future of solar thermal collectors

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The Ikhwezi Solar flat plate thermal collector manufacturing facility was designed and constructed in Germany. Ikhwezi Solar staff members were sent to Germany to oversee the final stages of production of the plant and to undergo training in the use of the equipment.

The highly specialised plant and machinery was then transported to the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Ikhwezi Solar staff, together with their German counterparts, were responsible for the calibration and testing of the plant prior to going into production. The local factory will produce South Africa’s first next generation collector.


Pioneering technology

Ikhwezi Solar3
Solar thermal collectors are necessary for the conversion of solar radiation into energy and the laser welding process utilised by Ikhwezi Solar is the most advanced and commercially viable technology for their industrial mass-production.

Although there are many steps in the production of a solar collector, one key production process is the welding of the copper tubes to the absorber sheet. Ikhwezi Solar uses a laser welding process in this regard. (Click here to find out more about the process.)

Laser welding offers excellent process safety, increased production speed and efficiency compared to conventional methods.

Full-surface absorbers for thermal flat-plate collectors are produced by welding copper tubes, in harp or serpentine arrangements, onto a baseplate. The laser welding process used by Ikhwezi Solar solves the inherent problems of welding the necessary material combinations, being copper tubes and aluminium sheets.
Ikhwezi Solar 5
A pulsed laser melts and alloys small areas of tube and sheet metal. The exact amount of heat is applied to the absorber at the exact welding point. This minimizes the heat affected zone so that the absorber layer remains intact, which guarantees the optimum energy efficiency of the flat-plate collector.

The flatbed laser welding system can be used to produce absorbers measuring up to 1,250 mm x 2,500 mm. Various sizes of copper tubes measuring 8 to 22 mm outside diameter, with a 0.2 mm wall thickness, can be welded. The base plate is 0.5 mm aluminium sheet. The copper tubing is welded to the aluminium sheet by the smallest possible welding spot. Four spots per centimetre, generated by a fixed-head laser at a welding speed of up to 25 metres per minute. The laser can cover around two square meters of absorber surface in 120 seconds.

Precision control and quality

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The fully-automated welding process is PC controlled. The laser welder has a multi-axis portal, controlled throughout the whole operating range with servo drives. The drives are programmed and actuated via automation software and another system servo drive controls the worktable’s rotation axis. The system operator can load and unload the absorbers during the primary processing time of this swivel action.

The unit has a laser welding head on its Z-axis with two laser lenses and a feed roller for the tubing to be welded. The two laser lenses are focused and positioned by a stepper motor. The stepper motor carries out the adjustments within a mechanically pre-defined positioning range. To guarantee absolute precision during this process, each stepper motor also has an encoder that detects the action of the welding heads and facilitates monitoring by the axis controller through a feedback signal.

The laser welding system currently uses three control systems; a controller for the laser, a separate safety controller and the control platform which monitors the whole production process. The three control systems are interconnected. All process sequences are monitored in compliance with IEC 61131-3. The system allows for maximum precision and guarantees weld quality and collector efficiency.

A world class product

Collector
The facility produces a collector which has been locally and internationally tested, producing results which place it amongst the most efficient available.

The collector is based on an international design with a proven track record, allowing Ikhwezi Solar to offer a ten (10) year manufacturer’s warranty. Key to the collectors’ durability and performance is the quality of components that are used in its manufacture. Internationally, the collector carries various European marks of approval, including the ‘Solar Keymark’, a certification of significant renown.

The iSun© collector is the first next generation collector to be produced locally and Ikhwezi Solar is proud to be able to bring its offering into the market place.

The iSun© collector has been optimised for high and low flow applications, making it suitable for use in both domestic and commercial settings, whether utilised in thermo-siphon or pumped systems.

The collector is a truly universal collector and can be used in conjunction with any quality solar geyser, giving local tank manufacturer’s the ability to offer a 100% locally manufactured solar hot water system, through the use of the iSun© collector.

SABS Approval & ISO9001 Certification

iso9001_logo

Ikhwezi Solar (Pty) Ltd was formed to produce a locally manufactured solar hot water collector of world class quality, offering a superior alternative to imported products, at competitive prices.

The Ikhwezi Solar manufacturing facility produces an internationally tested collector, with performance results which place it amongst the most efficient available. The iSun© collector is the first next generation collector to be produced locally. It is based on a tried and tested international design and is manufactured with materials of the highest standards, ensuring a product of superior performance and considerable durability.

The company, which was officially opened in October 2011 by the Honourable Minister of Energy Ms Dipuo Peters, strives to ensure a product of superior quality and as such Ikhwezi Solar sought to attain local certification and began the process of South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) Mark Approval and International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO 9001) certification.

The SABS Mark Approval process involves the testing of the build quality, as well as the performance of the product. It also involves an audit of the factory to determine that the manufacturing process and quality controls in place will ensure the continuous production of high quality product.

Ikhwezi Solar becomes first South African solar company to achieve SABS and ISO 9001

isun_collectors_sabs
isun collectors sabsThe ISO 9000 family of standards are related to quality management systems and designed to help organisations ensure that they meet the needs of customers and other stakeholders while meeting statutory and regulatory requirements related to the product.

The standards are published by ISO and are available through national standards bodies (e.g. SABS). ISO 9000 deals with the fundamentals of quality management systems, including the eight management principles on which the family of standards is based. ISO 9001 deals with the requirements that organizations wishing to meet the standard have to fulfil. Over a million organizations worldwide are independently certified, making ISO 9001 one of the most widely used management tools in the world today.

Ikhwezi Solar’s SABS Mark Approval process was concluded in April 2012 and the final audit of the rigorous ISO 9001 certification process was concluded in July 2012. This achievement makes Ikhwezi Solar the first local South African solar manufacturing company to have achieved the right to apply both the SABS Mark of Approval and the ISO 9001 certification to its range of products, an achievement of which we are extremely proud.

About the process

Solar thermal absorbers are necessary for the conversion of solar radiation into energy and the Ikhwezi Solar laser welding process is the most advanced and commercially viable technology for their industrial mass-production. Laser welding offers excellent process quality and increased production speed and efficiency compared to conventional methods.factory

Full-surface absorbers for thermal flat-plate collectors are produced by welding copper tubes in ‘harp’ arrangements onto a baseplate. The laser welding process used by Ikhwezi Solar solves the inherent problems of welding the necessary material combinations, for example copper tubing and aluminium sheets. A pulsed laser melts and alloys small areas of tube and sheet metal (i.e. the exact amount of heat is applied to the absorber) at the exact welding point. This minimizes the heat affected zone so that the absorber layer remains intact, which guarantees the optimum energy efficiency of the flat-plate collectors.

Our manufacturing process is flexible enough to allow for the customisation of collector specification to meet a particular client’s needs. Our standard collector is 2.15m², but we are capable of manufacturing collectors up to 3.2m², with different hydraulic design. As well as offering product to plumbers, installers, wholesalers, agents and for export, products can be manufactured and branded on an OEM basis.

The iSun collector has a number of features making it unique in a South African manufacturing context and resulting in a product of exceptional performance and durability.

Daily destruction tests are conducted on welds to ensure superior weld strength and longevity of product. The welding process successfully negates any issues of galvanic corrosion, as well as preventing absorber damage during the welding process itself, both key features not achievable using competing techniques.

Raw material quality and specification are not compromised in the manufacturing process, resulting in a collector of highest efficiency and resultant short financial payback. Our collector is comfortably backed with a 10 year warranty, with an externally tested life expectancy in excess of 25 years. Our collectors have been SABS tested, as well as being internationally tested by the Fraunhofer Institute for the German TUV certification.


factory1

Header Punching

Copper pipe is cut to size (i.e. header, footer and risers). The header and footer are then punched and counter died, creating high quality collared holes. The holes are punched out from the inside of the pipe. The counter die forms the collar shape and prevents cracking. It also ensures optimum flow through the collector, improving performance and limiting the effects of calcification.


factory2

Manifold Brazing

Header and footer pipes are inserted into the brazing jig. Risers are then inserted into the punched holes in the headers and footers. The footer is brazed to the risers, the jig then rotated and the header is done, completing the harp. The jig ensures consistency of output.


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Pressure Testing

The harp/register is then connected to the pressure testing machine. A pressure of 16bar is applied to the harp. Any drop in pressure during the test indicates a flaw in brazing and the harp is rejected from the process and checked in a water bath for possible correction. A 100% check is conducted, no harp continues without being tested.


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Laser Welding

A Mirotherm absorber is then loaded face down onto the welding carousel and a harp placed on top of the absorber. The jig rotates into the laser welding unit and the harp is welded to the absorber sheet in under two minutes, with a pull off strength of over 1300 Newton. The facility is able to produce 1600 collectors per month, on a single shift basis.


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Laser Welding Head

The precise heat control applied by the laser during the welding process essentially fuses the copper register to the absorber sheet. The laser alloys the two materials together negating the effects of galvanic corrosion. This process creates an exceptionally strong and long lasting bond, giving the absorber exceptional heat transfer ability and an expected lifespan in excess of 25 years.


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Laser Weld Test

A daily tear away test is performed on a sample weld to ensure that the laser bond is of a superior strength. The internally standard is 600Nm of force. Our welding process generates a bond that requires in excess of 1300Nm. This quality control procedure ensures the durability and performance of our absorber.


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Frame Assembly

The double wall aluminium frame allows for the insertion of an aluminium L-piece, which allows for the loose assembly of the frame. The collector frame is then loaded into a work piece carrier that holds and conveys the collector through the production process. After loading the aluminium profile into the work piece carrier, the first step is to punch rivet the frame. The aluminium rivet is then punched through the frame and L-piece to create a rigid and robust frame. The all-aluminium fixings negate issues associated with galvanic corrosion.


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Backing Sheet Insertion

After punching, the collector then has its aluminium backing material inserted. The backing sheet rests on a lip of the frame profile, which is first cleaned and then coated in silicone. The backing sheet is then inserted and rolled to ensure a full seal on the backing. The backing sheet is not structural, but acts as a guard against water ingress, whilst adding to the insulation properties of the collector. The backing sheet is 0.5mm aluminium sheet.


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Insulation Insertion

The next step in the work flow is the insertion of back and side insulation. Rock wool insulation of minimal thermal conductivity is used, to add to the heat retention characteristics of the collector. Any loose insulation material particles are vacuumed away. The rear and side insulation is 50mm and 13.5mm thick respectively.


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Absorber Insertion

The welded absorber sheet is then placed into the frame. Header and footer pipes protruding from the milled holes in the frame. The absorber is held in place with aluminium clips inside the collector. Rubber grommets are also installed around the header and footer pipes, which not only secure the absorber, but also provide a water tight seal to prevent water entering the collector.


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Glass and EPDM Seal

Specialised solar glazing of 4mm is the lifted by a vacuum hoist and a continuous EPDM seal is fitted around the sheet of glass. This gives the collector a water tight front side and ensures long life span. The vacuum hoist then raises the glazing and positions it into the collector frame.


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Cover Strip Placement

Aluminium cover strips are placed around the edge of the collector. These strips, when pressed down, lock into the frame, thereby securing the glass and seal to the collector frame.


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Collector Press

The collector is then placed into the hydraulic press. The cover strips are then pressed down and locked into place by the 1.22 tonnes of force exerted by the press. Once pressed the collector is water tight and of such a robust nature that it makes for ease of transport and installation.


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Quality Control / Packaging

The final step is the quality control and packaging of the collector. Any rough edges on the profile are cleaned, buffed and a specialised paint applied to ensure a weather proof seal. The header and footer connections are then fitted with a plastic caps to prevent entry of foreign material during transport and installation. Corner protectors are fitted to each of the corners of the collector and they are strapped for shipping.


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Warehousing and Logistics

A store of collectors is maintained at the factory, ready for shipping nationwide, through our logistics partners. Stock levels can be easily adjusted to service demand.


Contact Us

You may contact us directly or use the form below.

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Our Location and Details

T: +27 (0)43 701 8000

F: +27 (0)43 731 1016

E: piet@ikhwezisolar.co.za

A: De Wet Street, West Bank, East London, 5201



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