Solar Builder

JAN-FEB 2019

Solar Builder focuses on the installation/construction of solar PV systems. We cover the latest PV technology (modules, mounting, inverters, storage, BOS) and equip installers/contractors with tips and tools to make informed purchasing decisions.

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36 JA N UA RY / F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 9 "To be efficient at this phase of the project, we prefer to have between two and six units on any given job," Kosto says. "The Vermeer PD10's compact design allows us to get multiple units on a trailer, which helps cut our transportation costs and saves time." On the jobsite, Kosto says the Vermeer pile driver's operator controls, auto plumb and GPS integration are essential to his pile driving team's efficiency. "These features make it much easier for our people to get on and off a job faster and with precision when it comes to spacing the racking. In turn, that makes our racking crew's job go more smoothly. They don't have to worry about pile spacings being off," he says. The efficiencies of Horne Brothers' pile driving team and equipment has allowed them to pick up extra jobs in the areas where they already have crews working. "We tend to do everything on a project, except for electrical work," Kosto says. "But there are also a lot of solar companies that hire out different contractors to perform each part on a job. We keep the Vermeer PD10 pile drivers working on those types of projects as well. We put a lot of hours on them, and they stand up well. They are also compact and lightweight compared to other pile drivers on the market, which makes a difference when transporting them and helps to minimize ground disruption on the job." Divide and conquer Breaking each solar project into phases and using separate crews to complete the work has helped Horne Brothers work efficiently. "It's important for each team to understand every step of building a solar farm, but each crew member doesn't need to know how to do all of the tasks involved on a project," Kosto says. "Using multiple crews on a job allows our people to be more focused which has helped ensure we're delivering a quality end product for customers, cost-efficiently and as quickly as possible. This approach is a big reason why we do so much repeat business with our public utility and commercial solar customers." Another contributing consideration for Horne Brothers overall efficiency is the equipment manufacturers that they choose to do business with, with the dealer networks being a primary factor in those decisions. "While solar is going strong right now in Texas, North Carolina and South Carolina, there are many other states that we have crews working in, which is why it's so important to choose equipment that has support, wherever we go," says Kosto. "Also, since many solar farms are installed in rural areas, we need equipment partners that can support us even in more remote parts of a state. We get that from Vermeer and its dealer network. No matter where our crews are working, we know we'll receive a high level of service and parts support." Predicting the future While the present marketplace for solar energy is bright, tariffs and the phasing out of tax credits is a significant concern for the people that make their living in solar. Kosto explained Horne Brothers has experienced 40 to 50 percent growth year after year for the last three years but is concerned that market uncertainties may impact projects in the future. "Many of the solar farms we're constructing today have been in the works for a year or two," Kosto says. "For the industry to contin- ue to grow, there needs to be stability in its future, and that means being able to keep costs in check. Our process and the equipment we use has helped us operate lean and efficiently, but material pric- ing could impact solar energy production costs soon, which could reduce solar energy as being as successful as it is today for energy companies." Kayla Breja is the senior product marketing specialist – Utility & Productivity Tools for Vermeer Corp.

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