Renewable energy continues to experience rapid growth, as countries move to generate the majority of their electricity from green sustainable sources. RES is the world’s largest independent renewable energy company, with a 13 GW energy portfolio, including onshore and offshore wind, solar, energy storage and transmission and distribution. RES relies on a highly trained workforce of permanent staff and contractors to generate green energy. Managing this workforce and ensuring they are oriented and have the proper documents is vital as the business continues to grow to meet increasing demands for renewable energy.
Workers on RES wind farms are subjected to various hazards, especially environmental hazards like wind, lightning, snow and other weather-related issues. Wind turbine technicians need to be qualified to work at height, so they’re safe when tending to faults and servicing turbines. Site-specific topics such as shared access roads also need to be covered in worker training. To be allowed on-site, workers are required to have several different qualification certificates, as well as have completed various training courses depending on their role.
We recently interviewed Nigel Smith, RES Site Manager in Northern Ireland and Nicola Guthrie, Compliance Officer; who have helped shepherd RES successful implementation of GoContractor. They described how they use GoContractor to manage documents, training and site access, as well as how it compares to previous systems of orientations. Significant time savings of 80% or more have been achieved through using GoContractor.
“At RES, safety is our number one priority and we believe everyone should go home safe everyday.” – Nicola Guthrie, Compliance Officer.
Old System of Orientations
RES currently use GoContractor to manage thousands of contractors every year. GoContractor was the replacement system for a Learning Management System (LMS) that had been modified to accommodate managing large numbers of contractors. While many LMSs offer the ability to deliver online training, there is a gap in terms of the management of paperwork and qualifications of contractors and their workers.
Prior to using an online contractor management system, RES conducted face-to-face orientations. This was extremely time consuming for site managers who would have to travel long distances to induct workers on RES wind farms that were often situated in isolated locations.
“As you can imagine, trying to search a folder that’s on-site somewhere to see who’s oriented and when they were last oriented, what orientations they had and what levels of orientation they had never really worked very well. It certainly wasn’t sustainable as our company has grown.” – Nigel Smith, Site Manager.
When contractors turned up to work, a site manager would have to search through a ring binder with paper records of an individual’s training and certificates. This traditional system was inefficient and unsustainable as RES continued to grow.
New System of Orientations
Since launching GoContractor, RES have noticed significant improvements. Site managers save time and are able to manage multiple sites at once as workers take orientations in their own time. The added flexibility of online orientations mean that workers can do their training on a smartphone, PC or tablet. Workers have praised the induction’s flexibility and simplicity. Contractors generally spend their working lives away from computer screens rather than in front of them – therefore the ease-of-use of the platform is vital. Fortunately, all a worker needs to take a course on a device is an email address and an internet connection.
“It’s a much better developed and safer system. You don’t have the issues of people turning up on-site and managers having to look for orientation records in folders. It’s all online, it’s clear, visible, and it’s really easy to use.” – Nicola Guthrie.
As RES moved to an online platform, they found they were able to include more health and safety and technical information. This is all part of RES making safety standards as strong and as stringent as possible. The GoContractor platform includes quizzes at the end of each course chapter and workers must get 100% to pass. Crucially, the control center is now able to rely on the data provided by the GoContractor online contractor management system to determine whether a worker is authorised to access a site.
Traffic Light System
RES use the GoContractor Traffic Light System extensively for their orientations and contractor management. The traffic light system uses a Red/Amber/Green color scheme to represent worker behavior and the status of their documentation and orientation courses. The RES control center gets hundreds of calls a day and having a simple visual system that can be used quickly for reference could save huge amounts of time. Workers in the control center can hover over a worker’s traffic light status and immediately get a brief description of what is causing an issue e.g. expired documents.
The greatest benefits for RES have been the time saved from not having to perform all their orientations on-site. Given that many of their sites are in isolated locations, there are significant savings for site managers who would previously have had to travel to conduct face to face orientations. Without an online contractor management system, orientations would take on average 6 hours per site every week, which works out to 312 hours per orientation per site every year. And since RES have a fleet of 44 sites to induct workers, that adds up to 13,728 hours spent on orientations every year.
The GoContractor Customer support has been another area which has impressed RES. Help is at the touch of a button. “We can’t have people waiting on-site because if there’s a problem, it costs RES and our contractors time and money, although problems are really rare GoContractor can instantly sort it out within minutes,” explained Nicola.
Now that they use GoContractor, there are no concerns with the quality of data. Site managers also don’t have to consult binders and rely on a paper process to check on certificates and training whenever workers turn up on sites. The savings from not having to conduct every part of an orientation on-site are huge. With GoContractor, orientations take on average one hour a week per site, including checking and approving workers. For all of RES’s 44 sites, staff spend a total of 2,288 hours every year on orientations. This is a time saving of over 80% on previous methods of onboarding contractors.
The renewables sector is going to employ many more people in the future, so for RES, it’s important that all the right safety systems are in place now as they continue to scale up their operations. RES are a safety first company with rigorous safety checks in place to ensure workers only gain site access if they have the proper documents and orientations. GoContractor helps make this system secure and reliably saves significant time throughout the process of onboarding and managing contractors.