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Introducing Slick Tools™!

Today I’m thrilled to release our new website, share what we’ve been working on for over a year now, and tell you where this project is headed!

Today I’m thrilled to release our new website, share what we’ve been working on for over a year now, and tell you where this project is headed!

My name is Marshall Poland, founder of Slick Tools LLC. I’m a recent convert to the solar industry, having spent most of my career as an engineer in the cycling industry. I’ve been working as a solar installer and PV designer for two years in Boulder, Colorado.

Why Slick Tools

I see a lot of waste in the solar industry due to folks not having the right tools or information for the job. For example:

  • Solar installers get repetitive stress injuries while performing manual work that could be done by a machine.
  • Homeowners and installers lack access to reliable data regarding PV reliability; so they’re forced to base important decisions on anecdotes and gut feelings (e.g. whether to install animal guard to protect a PV system).
  • PV designers’ workflows include many small steps that could be automated or eliminated, if only someone had time to develop a custom-tailored software tool.

I hope to build tools and services under the Slick Tools name that solve these problems and empower folks in the solar industry to do their best work.

Our first product – the AG Bender™

The AG Bender is a tool for professionals who install pest abatement screens around solar PV arrays. Roof-mounted solar arrays create perfect nesting sites for birds and squirrels, and have exposed wires underneath them which rodents love to chew. Best practice is to install a wire mesh screen around the perimeter of the PV array to keep these animals out.

Many installers use their hands and a 2×4 or other hard edge to manually bend wire mesh into a rigid channel before installing it. We’re talking hundreds of feet of manual bending for a typical residential solar array – it’s a lousy job, and I’ve personally seen coworkers put on light duty due to repetitive stress injuries from this activity. The patent-pending AG Bender performs this work for them – quickly, safely and with more consistent results. Here’s a short video of the Bender in action!

stack of bent wire mesh
A stack of wire mesh profiles

We’ve sold 15 units to local installers, and are now opening sales and demo units to any installer in the US. Check out the AG Bender product page for more info!

Looking back

The current AG Bender is the culmination of a year of hard work – involving a lot of CNC router time, many hours of field testing, four design revisions and a patent application. Here are some highlights from along the way.

Looking forward

Okay, wipe away those sentimental tears– let’s talk about the future of Slick Tools! We have a number of projects underway:

Blog

You’re looking at it. We’ll use this channel to release information about the latest developments at Slick Tools. This is also where you’ll see new content posted as we build out the…

Solar PV Pest Control Guide

Looking around the internet, we found a striking lack of information on the topic of pest control in the solar industry. So we’ve taken it upon ourselves to build the ultimate online solar/pest knowledge base! Published in weekly installments, we’ll be crunching data from reputable sources such as NREL; gathering insights from our network of solar veterans; and sharing our own experience to bring you:

  • Installation best practices
  • Product reviews
  • Time, cost and ROI analyses to help system owners, installers and investors decide if pest abatement is right for their PV project

The guide’s main page lists the topics we plan to cover. We welcome your requests in the Comments section of that page.

Product development

We’re working on a power feed attachment to enhance the AG Bender. Currently, the Bender must be mounted firmly to a solid object before use, and finding a good mounting location/method has been a pain point for some users. With the power feed, you’ll be able to leave the machine resting on any surface and pump out 10 foot sections of wire mesh profile in ~4 seconds – no pulling required. The power feed will be driven by any cordless drill or impact, leaving the machine just as portable and compact as ever. It will be sold as an add-on compatible with all AG Benders.

That’s all for now. If you’re a solar professional interested in our work, feel free to reach out to info@slicktoolsllc.com. Stay healthy and safe out there!

— Marshall

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