The efficiency of your manufacturing operation can depend on something as mundane as nuts & screws even when what you’re producing is – energy. Now, solar panels can appear as static an assembly as can possibly be, right? Well, only partly right.
It would be great if types of weather other than sunny could be removed from the equation, but that isn’t really possible, which means that the solar panels can be exposed to quite strong winds. Which causes just enough vibration for the panel mounting bolts to loosen after a few cycles.
Additional to that, they are constantly exposed to thermal cycling, as they get either directly exposed to the sun or shaded for a part of the day. Being made of metal, bolts will expand and then shrink again as these temperature changes occur, leading to additional loss of torque over time.
In a Japanese solar power plant, this happening repeatedly, led to loss of revenue for the time that certain panels were out of commission, as well as drove the maintenance costs up. As the maintenance engineers looked for a solution they came across a really handy product – Loctite 290. Loctite 290 is a high strength threadlocker, same as Loctite 270, but it has a characteristic which makes it unique – it has wicking properties. That means that the product will actively creep in between the two already joined surfaces, which in this case meant that it could be applied to the already assembled bolts and nuts.
For the power plant, this resulted in no more revenue loss, reduced maintenance costs and improved safety.