Serial-Number Scanning Using the Raptor App

Why Record Serial Numbers?

The Raptor App allows you to scan barcodes on PV modules, validate serial numbers against OEM master lists and store data that is geotagged to a digital twin. You can verify supply chains for safe harboring and tax incentive eligibility by tracking serial numbers throughout their lifecycle. You can also validate construction progress and streamline warranty claims.

The serial number on a PV module uniquely identifies it from all other modules in a solar PV system. While Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) will provide a master list of serial numbers, it may be necessary to manually map serial numbers to specific locations on the site once the modules are installed.

Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) companies may be required to report approximate or exact module locations when turning over ownership to the asset owner or Operations and Maintenance (O&M) company.

Later in the lifecycle of the asset, any damage resulting in a warranty claim will require identification of the module or modules impacted. Recording all serial numbers early smooths the warranty-claim process and prevents the need for these additional steps when replacing modules is most urgent.

As modules are replaced over time, swapping recorded serial numbers is an easy way to quality-control that the correct modules are removed and replaced. This ensures the digital record of the solar PV system is constantly updated and accurate.

Preparing to Scan

Whether you intend to conduct aerial inspections of a solar PV system or not, the Raptor App reduces the time and increases the accuracy of in-field serial number scanning.

Prior to the commencement of serial number scanning, the Raptor Maps team will create the digital twin of the solar PV system. This will be accurate to the georeferenced site electrical drawings and will help scanners navigate the site efficiently.

Hiring Scanners

It is best for scanners to have some pre-existing site familiarity. If possible, scan as the site is being constructed so that the process does not require additional crews and site walkthroughs.

If this is not possible, local labor companies are great resources for acquiring a scanning crew. Look for companies that specialize in outdoor work such as construction.

Environmental Conditions

When timing scanning work, consider weather and temperatures. Also, consider other environmental factors relevant to the site.

Scanning serial numbers requires use of a phone and preferably a barcode scanner for any hard-to-reach solar panels. It also requires scanners to walk the site and remain outdoors for most of the day.

Planning this work for cooler months will prevent technical slowdowns and will allow scanners to remain efficient throughout the full day. If scanning work must take place in hot summer months, shift the workday as early as possible following sunrise. These factors are especially critical for desert climates.

Along with avoiding extreme heat, avoid extended rainy seasons and heavy snowfall to minimize down days where scanners are unable to walk the site or locate module serial-number labels.

Vegetation and natural environmental conditions can also impede physical access to panels to scan serial numbers. If a site is overgrown with vegetation, it can be easier to access serial numbers in winter months.

Keep grass and other vegetation trimmed to maintain panel accessKeep grass and other vegetation trimmed to maintain panel access

Keep grass and other vegetation trimmed to maintain panel access

Depending on the time of year, required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) may change. Ensure that all scanners are aware of the safety requirements prior to commencing work onsite.

Scanning Route

Each solar PV system is laid out differently and therefore requires a unique serial-number scanning plan. In general, you will want to scan from one end of a row to another and move sequentially through rows.

How scanners approach completing rows should be determined by the pattern of modules installed on the site. For rows set up from East to West, scanners can move laterally. They can choose a scanning pattern depending on the panel dimensions. Scanners should assign sections of the site to complete to prevent overlapping efforts.

Solar farm with rows on an East-West layoutSolar farm with rows on an East-West layout

Solar farm with rows on an East-West layout

Be aware that some solar sites will have physical obstacles such as ungrounded wires or tracking equipment that prevent scanners from moving easily throughout the site.

Sample of exposed wires to avoid - located at the end of rowsSample of exposed wires to avoid - located at the end of rows

Sample of exposed wires to avoid - located at the end of rows

PV modules are labeled with their serial numbers in several locations including the back of the module, the side of the module and the front of the module. Any one of these locations is fine to scan, but the back of the module is likely the easiest location on most sites.

Front-facing locations of barcodesFront-facing locations of barcodes

Front-facing locations of barcodes

Common options for serial-number barcode locationsCommon options for serial-number barcode locations

Common options for serial-number barcode locations

Equipment

Beyond PPE, serial-number scanning requires a phone for both scanning and storing serial numbers in the Raptor Maps app.

For the best performance, we recommend using iOS devices equivalent to or better in specs than iPhone X (10) and/or Android devices equivalent to or better in specs than Google Pixel 3. You can use the phone camera as an OCR scanner. Or you can use any Bluetooth-enabled barcode scanner that connects to your phone.

While scanning with only a phone’s onboard camera is supported, it is not the fastest option when scanning large numbers of modules on a given day. For extended serial-number data-collection efforts, Raptor Maps recommends supplying each scanner with a Bluetooth barcode scanner. This will allow for comfortable and efficient scanning and will not impact any features of the Raptor App scanning feature.

Scanning with a compatible smartphone using OCRScanning with a compatible smartphone using OCR

Scanning with a compatible smartphone using OCR

Scanning with a Bluetooth-enabled barcode scannerScanning with a Bluetooth-enabled barcode scanner

Scanning with a Bluetooth-enabled barcode scanner

Serial Number Master List

As an additional level of quality control, the serial-number master list provided by the OEM should be loaded into the Raptor App. At least one week prior to commencing scanning onsite, please provide Raptor Maps with a .CSV of the OEM’s master list of serial numbers of modules added to the site along with site drawings to prepare for scanners. The Raptor App will confirm scanned serial numbers using the master list and alert the scanner to any potential mismatches.

Scanning Serial Numbers Into the Raptor App

Raptor Maps has made scanning serial numbers easy using the Raptor App.

Flow in Raptor mobile app to begin scanningFlow in Raptor mobile app to begin scanning

Flow in Raptor mobile app to begin scanning

Reviewing and Sharing Serial-Number Records

Once the serial numbers are scanned, export the data to spreadsheets, including serial numbers, module latitudes and longitudes and more.

Access equipment records in your Raptor Solar portalAccess equipment records in your Raptor Solar portal

Access equipment records in your Raptor Solar portal

Access serial numbersAccess serial numbers

Access serial numbers

Export to .CSVExport to .CSV

Export to .CSV