Are LED’s creating job losses?
Perth 2nd July 2013
Today I had a shock revelation during a discussion with the hotel operator of a project we are currently doing with them, realising that our strive to improve the sustainability of the hotel through savings in energy and maintenance for the lighting may actually result in staff redundancies! Why? The proposed conversion to LED technology that we worked out came with a detailed ROI calculation showing where the savings would be against the expected capital investment needed to implement the scheme and in that it became clear that big savings could be obtained in maintenance costs. The angle that I had not seen (and neither the operators) is that the owners, the ones who pay the bills, deduced from my calculations that they could therefore do with lesser maintenance staff! Their reasoning was that if we can reduce the maintenance costs by half (as a result of lower frequency of replacement) they could probably do with half the related staff! Sounds logical isn’t it? In this case the hotel operates a crew of 4 that work around the clock in shifts (engineering department) and lamp replacements and maintenance is one of their key responsibilities. Now perhaps one or two may see the axe! In a union driven society like Australia this is a big thing, so the operator is now reviewing their options as making a person redundant is not at the top of one’s agenda! .
The morale of this is that yes, LED technology is great for sustainability and will save energy in many situations, but one of its other key feature, the starkly reduce need for maintenance may actually result in job losses as the savings obtained in maintenance savings basically are the costs of replacing a light bulb, in other words the need for an electrician or engineers’ attendance. Next time we trumpet the savings in maintenance we may want to think about the potential impact on someone’s job!
Light Watch 4-118: Spare a little thought for all the maintenance engineers out there tasked to fix the lights that you at one point of time in your career designed and specified!
(Note that in the future we may have robots doing the work for us…!)