"Due to staff shortages waiting times are longer than normal" or "closed due to staff shortages". You have probably come across texts like this. In every sector there are staff shortages in general and shortages of skilled workers in particular. This is problematic as work starts to pile up, but it also offers opportunities. Especially for a fledgling sector like the wind industry.
Innovate in places where people are hard to find
Within the wind sector people have come up with various labour-saving innovations. These include the Slip Joint, an alternative to grout or bolt connections. Two conical-shaped ends are slipped over each other thus causing friction and creating a stable connection which eliminates the need for skilled workers to manually fasten the bolts. By thinking outside the box this innovation, intentionally or unintentionally, helps to solve the problem of staff shortages.
Innovating is good for your image, increases margins and attracts investors, but the shortage of skilled workers is another topical and important reason to innovate. As a company in the wind sector, you should look for places in the company where the shortage is most noticeable and consider what alternatives there are to using fewer or less specifically skilled staff. Think about how you can avoid standing still and look at innovation from that perspective.
Robotisation and standardisation
The Slip Joint is an example of thinking outside the box. You should also consider robotisation and standardisation. Standardisation is used in various sectors, such as the construction industry for example, where well-trained bricklayers are increasingly difficult to find. That is why someone came up with a solution that also makes it possible for bricklayers who aren’t experts to construct buildings. More and more work is now being done with bricks that you put together like Lego bricks. Drystack is a good example of an innovation. Electrical engineering also increasingly works with simplified, ready-made solutions, such as pluggable installations. This frees up the specialists and enables them to focus on more complex electrical engineering issues while others do the standard work.
Innovating helps you keep ahead of the competition
The wind market is at a relatively early stage. This is only positive: there are still lots of opportunities out there. Wind turbines are getting bigger and bigger, which brings new challenges. Also in terms of staff. You should see this as an opportunity to respond smartly to developments and to innovate. Companies that come up with labour-saving solutions have an edge over their competitors. And because the market is still relatively young, chances are that you will be able to protect your innovation with a patent, which is a valuable tool for a solid position in the market.
Do staff shortages form a threat? They are definitely tricky. I nevertheless challenge you to look at this from a different perspective and let the shortages inspire you to take the lead in innovation.