Solar Automation Inc. was established in 1999 when photovoltaics began to arise from a 15 year respite. It was clear to the founders that rapid growth in solar electricity would need a new generation of equipment for manufacturing. We set about the task of streamlining the machines for soldering solar cells into circuits because complexity would inhibit growth in capacity. Complexity would also keep the cost of modules higher than necessary.

Using design to reduce the cost of the module and to reduce the cost of the factory, became our guiding light. This approach inevitably led us to a better shape for modules and a simpler and smaller kind of factory. Though perhaps counterintuitive, we discovered that by reducing the size and capacity of the equipment we could raise productivity and profitability of the manufacturer. See The MicroFactory.

Solar Automation is dedicated to making it possible for small enterprise to compete with imports and to make local manufacturing profitable through continuous innovation, common sense and the application of the best available technology.

Patrick Gallagher, president of Solar Automation, Inc., has been developing specialized equipment for industry since the early 70's. A graduate of the University of Michigan in 1973 in Mechanical Engineering, Mr. Gallagher began his career at Ford Motor Co. as a product design engineer.

For ARCO Solar, under contract with Jet Propulsion Lab, he designed and built the PV industry's first automated cell soldering machinery in 1979-80. Awarded the level of Associate Technical Fellow at The Boeing Co., Mr. Gallagher designed, developed and patented equipment for the manufacture of high performance energy storage flywheels. He also holds a patent for flywheel safety containment. His other work includes custom robotics for machining titanium aircraft structures, automated carbon fiber composites fabrication, space-based solar array assembly, high speed packaging, and various factory systems for Motorola, Ross Industries, GTE, Sperry, Siemens, and others.

Russ Koppes, CEO of Solar Automation, Inc., previously owned and operated a precision machine shop in Seattle for 26 years that specialized in complex aircraft parts for The Boeing Co. His highly automated CNC shop produced large scientific hardware for Livermore, containment vessels for Hanford, and attained the coveted Prime Contracter of the Year Award (covering WA, OR, ID,and AK) for outstanding quality & delivery to the Bremerton Shipyard. Building both experimental and production parts for a variety of precision applications, Mr. Koppes has overseen the fabrication of the majority of the components for the Cell Circuiting System. He now operates Double R Machine Inc. in Hamilton, Montana, prime supplier to Solar Automation.