ICN a Pacific link for solar

ICN introduces Victoria’s Hofmann Engineering to a 21st century growth industry; The US-based First Solar gains a local supplier of quality solar components.

First Solar has 6,400 global associates and suppliers, and annual sales of over $3 billion. Plans for a large solar array in Western Australia has drawn it Down Under again. For local components, it knew where to go.

'We found out how good ICN were back in 2010, when they helped us in Victoria', says Rob Bartrop, First Solar’s Business Development Manager in Australia. 'But we really credit what ICN did this time. ICN took extraordinary steps to get to know our business and help us build relationships with local suppliers.'

What First Solar needed were speciallymade brackets that held the valuable solar panels in place. ICN’s Victorian office knew that Hofmann Engineering could do it.

Hofmann Engineering has provided high-precision engineered solutions to firms like Boeing, BAE Systems and Rolls Royce Aerospace for over 50 years. They have the engineers, machinists, fabricators and toolmakers to design and build whatever their clients need.

'We have worked with Hoffamnn Engineering for over 10 years,' says ICN. 'They’d delivered on complex projects such as the Australian Synchrotron, and we knew they could provide a world-class product at a competitive price.'

So far, so good – for both companies. Hofmann Engineering has tooled up its Cheltenham factory for the large steel brackets, built up and trained its skilled engineering team to precision-press the brackets.

Denver Alvis, Hofmann Engineering’s Business Manager, has appreciated ICN’s 'excellent work in this endeavour.' Hofmann Engineering is now ready for any or all of First Solar’s projects in the region.

First Solar is equally impressed. Without ICN’s assistance in finding an Australian supplier, it would need to import the brackets, putting unwanted stress on its supply chain.

'We will continue to work with ICN to find the best local metalworkers and manufacturers', says Mr Bartrop. 'And also Australian designers who can help us tweek our own products to meet Australian standards and suit Australian landscapes.'

For First Solar and Hofmann Engineering, ICN has bridged the Pacific in an industry with a very long-term future.

ICN is Australia and New Zealand’s innovative industry matchmaker. If you’re a major project developer, ICN can put you in contact with the best suppliers. If you’re a supplier we will connect you with the best projects for your business.