Surviving, much less thriving, in today’s maturing solar energy market and industry is quite an accomplishment in and of itself. That’s especially true if your company is independently owned and started from scratch. Tempe, Arizona–based First Solar has certainly had its fair share of ups, downs, and organizational changes in the past two to three years, but one thing that management and workforce continue to be recognized for is their advanced manufacturing prowess. There have been missteps and failures of note, but the company has earned and continues to produce the highest performance cadmium-telluride (CdTe) thin film PV cells and modules at the lowest cost industry-wide. That’s a quite notable achievement for an independent US-based manufacturer.
That said, solar photovoltaic (PV) market participants — as is true for many businesses today, manufacturing businesses in particular — rely on a network of suppliers that can extend around the globe in seeing to their business needs. First Solar is no exception. What’s also somewhat exceptional about the company, however, is the degree and extent of management’s efforts to promote core social and environmental (as well as economic, engineering, and manufacturing) values and ethics not only in-house but across its supply chain.
Recognition, in turn, can play a big role in promoting core values, ethics, and organizational motivation. On Nov. 13, First Solar management took time out to recognize its top suppliers for a second year running with its 2012 Achievement Awards. Some 160 of First Solar’s top suppliers attended the event. Five were “honored with the company’s NOVA award for outstanding performance in 2012,” according to a First Solar press release.
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First Solar’s Top 5 Supply Chain Partners
Reflective of the global span of First Solar’s supply chain, the five recipients of 2012 NOVA awards were advanced materials supplier Morgan Crucible Company; Nippon Sheet Glass (NSG), one of the world’s largest glass manufacturers; global logistics company Expeditors International; provider of thin-film deposition applications Oryx Advanced Materials; and Rapid Manufacturing, a global manufacturer of custom cable/wire harnesses.
“Our suppliers play a critical role in fulfilling our mission to create enduring value by enabling a world powered by clean, affordable solar electricity,” First Solar VP, Global Supply Chain Shellie Molina stated. “We appreciate the exceptional efforts of these NOVA award recipients and the value they provide through the highest standards of quality, cost and performance.”
Each 2012 NOVA award recipient contributed to First Solar’s ability to achieve its business goals in a manner consistent with the broader social and environmental values and ethics it seeks to espouse.
Collaboration with Morgan Crucible enabled First Solar to substantially improve critical materials processing at lower costs in line with its efficiency roadmap, according to the press release.
Oryx Advanced Materials’ own R&D efforts “contributed substantially” to cost reductions at First Solar.
Expediters International is paving the way for the Tempe-based thin-film PV company to enter new markets in compliance with all local laws and regulations.
Rapid Manufacturing, for its part, “has demonstrated a commitment to First Solar initiatives, providing notable flexibility on project support,” First Solar management noted in making this year’s awards.
Photo Credit: First Solar