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The Future of Solar Module Assembly: An Interview with Indium's Jon Major

Jon major recently joined the Indium Corporation as a Product Manager for Solar back-end assembly products. I greeted him with this impromptu interview.


Jim: First of all Jon, welcome. It’s great to have you as a new addition to the team!


Jon: Thank you Jim – it’s an exciting time to be at Indium Corporation and a fantastic time to be a part of the growing solar industry. I am extremely enthusiastic about my new position and am looking forward to making a positive contribution to the solar industry.


Jim: I noticed it didn’t take you long to get up to speed. Your time in Silicon Valley must have helped.


Jon: Coming from the electronics industry with a focus on product development, new product introduction, manufacturing, and external partner management, I am excited that my past experiences can contribute both to the industry and to Indium Corporation. After joining Indium only a few weeks ago, not only am I getting used to Upstate NY weather, but I have been immersing myself in solar with the goal of gaining a comprehensive understanding of:


       Both rigid and thin-film technologies

       Technology trends

       Global and regional markets (EU, China, US, North America)

       Solar supply chain (Silicon, wafers, cells, module, equipment, inverters, integrators)

       Equipment manufacturers, contract manufacturers, and how we can collaborate with them to move the industry forward

       Our products and pricing

       Our current and future customers

       Our short and long term opportunities

       Our competition

       Our roadmap

       Our strengths, weaknesses, and threats

       Our manufacturing capabilities and our QA process

       Our sales channels, value proposition, key differentiators

       All Indium processes


Jim: I know you've got solar products on your mind. Let our readers know a little bit more about your role here at Indium?


Solar products on the mind of Jon MajorJon: As a Solar Backend Product Manager I will focus (officially) on the business development and growth of Indium’s Solar Back End product offerings.  Now that sounds great but what does it actually mean? I could cut and paste my official job description but I prefer to explain it in my own words. As I think about the first part of that statement, “business development and growth…”, I see my role as:


      Know the market, the customers, the product, and the competition

      Develop relationships with the Indium team, reps, partners, equipment manufacturers, and, of course, customers

      Write valuable data sheets, publications, and sales literature

      Listen to our customers' needs and provide solutions

      Manage schedules and orders with minimal surprises

      Build cross-functional collaboration (sales, distribution, marketing, engineering, R&D, QA, production, management)

      Never let down partners or customers

      Support all functions of the organization, both internal and external

      Deliver above & beyond commitments

      Make great bets – on technology, customers, and opportunities

      Understand the product life-cycle

      Ship high quality, consistent product


The second part of that statement “..of Indium’s Solar Back End product offerings” is fairly straightforward. Of course this means I will focus on Indium’s current back end products (tabbing ribbon, bus ribbon, metallization paste (or as I prefer to call it – “grid ink”), flux and flux cored wire). With a product development background, this also means I have an opportunity to work with customers, partners, and R&D to develop and bring new products to market that will advance the module assembly industry – very exciting for me personally.


Ultimately, I think of my role as both building awareness of Indium’s products and superior technical support available to our customers as well as helping to shape our growing industry.


Jim: Okay Jon, you’ve had a while to settle in and get familiar with our Solar Team’s past and present – what are you planning for the future of module assembly?


Jon: Regarding the future of module assembly it’s a bit early to know for sure but I am excited about our low-temperature bismuth-containing alloys. These low temperature, lead-free, bismuth-containing alloys reduce the soldering process temperatures, thus reducing thermal stresses. I’m also working with the Indium production team to further reduce our tabbing and bus ribbon yield strength. A lower yield strength will reduce mechanical stress on cells during the assembly process. This is crucial to minimizing the possibility of microcracks and cell breakage during the solar module assembly process.


In closing, having lived in California for the last 10 years, I am not 100% familiar with our Upstate New York climate, and especially not all the snow shoveling. I see in my future a solar powered driveway heater!


Jon can be reached at