Representing an overall budget of approximately $20 million, including support from Belgium, this plant showcases Thales Alenia Space’s Industry 4.0 approach and is the only one of its kind in Europe. It also complements the Leonardo center of excellence in Nerviano, Italy, which designs and builds photovoltaic assemblies for all the major programs conducted by the European and Italian space agencies (ESA and ASI, respectively).
Thales Alenia Space deploys new techniques such as robotized assembly of the panels, digital management of data and traceability, augmented reality and online tests and inspections. The new plant will offer an annual production capacity of 100,000 to 200,000 photovoltaic assemblies.
The PVAs will now be made in-house at the Hasselt plant and then be sent to Thales Alenia Space’s plant in Cannes, southern France, for integration in the solar panels.
“The first PVAs built here will be used on Indonesia’s SATRIA communications satellite, to be developed by Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor,” said Davy Vrancken, GM of the company’s facilities in the Flemish region.
“By building this production plant in Hasselt, one of the first in the world to use programmable robots for this type of space product, Thales Alenia Space strengthens its position in the Belgian space industry,” said Ina Maller, CEO of Thales Alenia Space in Belgium.