INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
President of STI Norland Xabier Blanco Tells Us About the Pioneer Spirit and Constant Innovation in the Solar Sector.
We talked to Xabier Blanco, president at STI Norland about dual-row trackers and he had the following to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Xabier Blanco: Thanks for asking. Just like everyone else, we are following the safety and prevention measures with great care. I think it is important to do our bit to avoid spreading the virus as much as possible, allowing those who take care of us in the hospitals and laboratories to get on with their work.
How does STI Norland innovate?
Xabier Blanco: Innovation is part of our DNA. In 2002 we were the first company in the world to install azimuth solar trackers. Then in 2010, we pioneered with the first one horizontal axis tracker with bolted joints and a centralized rotary drive, and in 2017 we developed the first dual-row solar tracker. Innovation has always been and will continue to be one of our hallmarks in the coming years.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Xabier Blanco: The pandemic requires us to confront unexplored obstacles not yet perceived by most companies worldwide. We are facing an uncertain and complex environment, where conditions change in unexpected and unpredictable ways in a matter of hours.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, STI Norland joined the WHO’s recommendations to help slow the contagion curve. We have prioritized the health and safety of our employees without involving our customers in project delays.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Xabier Blanco: We have not really had to make any dramatic decisions, and the lesson we have learned is that it is best to know how to read the signs well and react to them as quickly as possible before it is too late.
Fortunately, despite the difficulties arising from this health crisis, the production and shipment of our solar trackers are proceeding normally during 2020, and we have managed to manufacture and supply orders for our projects in Spain, Portugal, the United States, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Japan and Senegal in record time.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Xabier Blanco: Something that works for me is having everything planned out and knowing how to anticipate events. I can greatly reduce the stress caused by disorganization and uncertainty.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Xabier Blanco: Our direct competitors are PV trackers manufacturers, which are spread all over the globe. To a lesser extent, we could also consider manufacturers of fixed-tilt structures as competitors. I would like to point out that after several years of the demonstrated success of our dual-row trackers, most of our competitors have followed our lead and developed their own dual-row trackers. This encourages us to continue betting on innovation, as it shows that we are following the right path, as well as being far ahead in terms of experience and product development.
Xabier Blanco: I believe that what is crucial to have success, apart from great expertise of the sector in which you work, is to have a pioneering spirit and to encourage constant innovation. You also must be very aware that there are many external factors that can affect your company, as has happened this year with the coronavirus, and that the best way to deal with these crises is to put them first and prioritize what is really important, which in this case was the safety of our people.
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