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Helping renewable energy scale smart, safe, and fast

H'alt has clever ideas to boost the sector through training

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The renewable energy sector is growing fast by necessity. The planet needs it.

And startups to serve this market are springing up fast, too. We recently profiled Neuwave Technologies, and today we meet H’alt. Can H’alt catch fire? Sorry I had to get that pun in there somewhere.

But first:

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H’alt wants to help renewable energy scale smart, safe, and fast

In summary:

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In the face of aggressive climate targets leading up to 2050, the renewable energy sector is experiencing a real boom. 

But training enough people with the right skills to meet demand for wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources is proving tricky. 2022 analysis by PwC pegged the shortfall in the UK alone at 200,000 people.

And these people need to be well trained, because work to build infrastructure like wind farms can be expensive (especially if the work overruns) and dangerous. 

“The problem that we have is rapid growth, against a backdrop of organisations struggling to even meet the current growth needs, let alone the acceleration that we're going need until 2050,” summarises Rakesh Maharaj, founder of H’alt, a startup that believes it has the solution.

H’alt aims to speed up the onboarding of renewable energy workers around the world, with the promise of up to 7% reduction in project delivery times and 5% reduction in frictional costs.

One key issue with skills in renewable energy, Maharaj says, is that workforces need to be deployed quickly, in remote locations. That means problems encountered, and solutions discovered, out in the field don’t necessarily get captured in a structured way so they can be shared with the teams working on similar projects in the future.

And so H’alt can capture these insights and use them to train workers on the job to help them solve problems as they arise, white feeding data back to management about how projects are performing. 

H’alt founder Rakesh Maharaj

How it works

H’alt’s current product takes the form of a chatbot inside Microsoft Teams. Engineers, managers, and other professionals working in the field can ask the bot questions and receive information back, generally in the form of five- to seven-minute ‘performance sprints’ designed for quick consumption.

“In many instances, it causes people to pause, think through what is expected, and determine whether the route that they are going to pursue will deliver the outcome they want or not. And if it does, that's great. They move ahead confidently. If not, it points them to other internal subject matter experts,” says Maharaj.

Meanwhile, H’alt is collecting data about problems and solutions and putting them into a ‘tacit knowledge model’ that allows the software to share information about the performance of their projects with leaders back at the office.

“Corporate teams and regional teams can then deploy management resources to support projects preemptively, before people go out onsite and do the wrong thing to the extent of either doing the job wrong or underperforming, or in the worst-case scenario, killing themselves,” explains Maharaj.

An example of H’alt training materials in a desktop web browser.

The story so far

Manchester-based Maharaj has been involved in the safety, health and environmental consulting space for a long time, most recently with his own consultancy business.

He says his journey to founding H’alt has its roots in work he previously did, leading investigations into fatal industrial accidents.

Maharaj says that often, the core issues leading to deaths in the workplace weren't really related to safety protocols. Instead they linked back to operational, HR, or planning and scheduling decisions made long before the accident itself.

“If you get any of those wrong, you put the wrong tools in the wrong person's hand, or give an person half the amount of time required to do the job, then regardless of all of the safety training you provide them with, all of the induction training you give them, all of the checksheets you give them to do on the job, none of these pick up the fundamental flaws in the work design.”

The real issue as Maharaj sees it is complex, siloed organisations planning a project with little communication between departments, and then leaving a supervisor on the ground to handle all of the resultant blind spots, such as there being too little time to complete a task, or equipment not arriving soon enough to meet the deadline.

Learning all of this led Maharaj to see capturing and disseminating tacit knowledge from the field back to decision makers as key to safer and more efficient projects.

H’alt is the software he and his team have developed to achieve this goal. Frustrated by the reactive nature of his consultancy work, in 2020 Maharaj shifted his business into delivering training services alongside product development towards the launch of the software.

A proof-of-concept version of the software has already been deployed with sustainable energy equipment giant Vestas, to assist with projects underway in the Asia Pacific region.

“We have really worked hard to ensure that the product that we're developing serves both growing companies, as well as the environment, social and governance agenda,” he says.

“I think what we're building is truly for the future, and enabling people to look more systematically and holistically at what they do, rather than trying to optimise little things along the way with very little effect.”

And there’s more!

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