Cobot developer Rokae debuts new robot arm to scale PV panel layout

Currently, many robotic silicon cell layers have an arm length of about 2 meters, which is hard to be stretched to churn out panels of outsize dimensions.

Rokae (珞石机器人), a leading cobot developer, has rolled out a new-generation specialized robot for the layout of photovoltaic (PV) panels to meet constantly evolving needs of China’s burgeoning PV industry.

The robot, called NB25-12/2.1, will provide one-stop solutions for the PV industry to scale up production, currently held back by a lack of efficiency in solar cell layout, the company claimed.

“The demand for the capacity of a single production line is getting higher and higher, with the robot moving at an ever-faster pace,” one of Rokae’s clients was quoted as saying in a WeChat post. “In the meanwhile, demands for better precision have kept pace with those for speed.”

A PV panel layout robot operates an arm to clutch rows of silicon solar cells and presses them on a framed plate. Moving at high velocity, the device experiences jolts to its structure, which diminishes the overall layout accuracy and pushes up the rate of product deficiencies.

“This will force us to pull out all stops to reinforce the robot’s structure,”said the client on condition of anonymity.

For PV silicon module and panel manufacturers, production efficiency and accuracy is criticial to staying competitive in a cutthroat market.

To meet these core aims, Beijing-based Rokae has launched NB25-12/2.1 with improved specifications.

The robot has a unit weight of 262 kg and a working radius (arm length) of 2,110 mm. Powered by an AC servo motor drive, it features a position repeatability of ± 0.05 mm and protection level of IP65 — and IP67 at the wrist, indicating industry-grade waterproofness.

Photos courtesy of Rokae

With an optimized body design, the robot ensures better stability at its base, allowing its six axes to move faster while maintaining accuracy.

Rokae’s proprietary xCore control system not only cuts the robot arm’s speed to 5 seconds per duty cycle, but also smoothens its motion trail, making it a better fit for occasions where high precision is required, such as installing solar cells on a PV panel.

Currently, many robotic silicon cell layers have an arm length of about 2 meters, which is hard to be stretched to churn out panels of outsize dimensions.

This often compels manufacturers to adjust the robot’s mechanical parts to extend its arm length, which increases the workload, hikes the costs and enhances the risks, according to one of Rokae’s WeChat posts, citing a client’s manager.

Rokae’s NB25-12/2.1 tackles this user pain point by coming up with an arm that measures 2,110 mm, compared to 2,013 mm of its predecessor. Add to that an overhauled mechanical design, the robotic arm length extends wider, better accommodating user needs, said Rokae.

With a payload increase of 2kg to 12 kg, it also meets the needs for stronger carrying capacity as the PV panel layer receives further upgrades.

As PV production lines become increasingly flexible, driven by smart manufacturing, the collaboration between computer vision and robotic arms has been more mature.

Somehow, conventional integrated solutions not only pose a technical barrier but also compounds the difficulty of post-installation adjustment, according to Rokae.

To solve this problem, its NB25-12/2.1 is equipped with a whole set of customized, one-stop layout solutions, instead of integrated solutions comprising robotics and computer vision.

This will insulate clients from worries about on-site adjustment and post-installation services, in addition to making the robot “smarter” and “quicker.”

Going forward, Rokae will continue to explore robotic applications across the PV industrial chain, providing it with one-stop solutions to help realize China’s twin goals of achieving carbon emissions peak and carbon neutrality, the WeChat post said.

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at

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