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How training can help to support the market

Effective and accessible training for both contractors and clients is, and will remain, essential to good business practice, according to Marc Diaz
The government has set a steep target of cutting the UK's home carbon emissions by a dramatic 80 per cent by 2050. Ambitious as this may be, battling towards greener living has created the opportunity for new advances in technology. But with these advances comes the ever growing requirement to keep up to date with changes to legislation and technology.

Recent media reports have highlighted how, without the right knowledge and installation information, consumers who have chosen to switch to heat pump technology have seen an increase in their energy bills rather than the intended saving.

Danger of lack of support
It is clear that if the new technology isn't supported by the industry, properly training all involved in the specification and installation process, it may have have a dramatic effect on the growth of the domestic heat pump market, restricting it before it has effectively begun.

In order to survive and prosper, contractors and distributors alike need to be flexible, faster-moving and more adaptable to change than ever before. If individuals are able to learn and develop, then so can the organisations they work for.

Recent criticism of heat pump technology can be countered by ensuring that the installation is correctly sized, rated and commissioned in the first place. Equally, it is essential that the person operating the heat pump is instructed on the correct use of the technology, and understands how with the correct operation; it can deliver real cost savings.

It simply should not be the case that an air source heat pump relies on an immersion heater to provide the home-owner with adequate hot water, thus becoming an expensive solution. When sized and installed correctly, I believe air source heat pumps are a fantastic solution for home-owners looking to cut the cost of their heating and hot water bills. As many in the industry are perfectly aware, air source heat pumps perform extremely well when compared to LPG, oil-fired or electric heating systems.

Providing training for contractors and distributors not only helps them develop their skills and knowledge, but also enhances their ability to complete installations successfully. In addition it is also important for continual development in understanding changes to legislation covering the heat pump market.

It is important for any organisation, large or small, to plan the training that their staff may need. While there can be enormous benefits in developing the capability of the workforce, training doesn't come cheaply. Training needs to be right, of the right type, at the right time and for the right people.

The changes to the Energy Related Products Directive, or ErP, which came into effect from January this year aims to give the building services industry a better understanding of the real efficiency of air conditioning and heat pump systems and will have a significant impact on the market.

This together with the new energy labelling scheme from Europe aims to provide clarity within the market and make the selection process simpler. However, it remains important that contractors and installers keep up to date with these regulations.

Panasonic resources
Panasonic has created an online resource for registered installers of Panasonic systems - the Pro Club (www.PanasonicProClub.com) - where the latest product information and latest promotions are also available. The training tool is a system whereby engineers can progress through the various training modules - but at a time, pace and place that is convenient to them. After all, as long as you are connected the internet is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, regardless of bank holidays etc.

Meanwhile, the Panasonic PRO Academy a Training Facility opened early October 2011 and is the designed to allow contractors, installers and specifiers to learn about the new products as well as design, installation and commissioning skills.

Kitted out with working units from Panasonic's ECOi VRF, FS Multi and Aquarea systems, the training room also demonstrates the latest innovations to the gas-driven GHP system - and the company's wide range of controllers.

There is no substitute for practical experience and our ProAcademy is designed to bridge the gap between text-book theory and hands-on learning. Our training team offers a full schedule of up-to-date courses providing consistent, high quality training covering a wide variety of abilities and products. With the development of our online offering too, we now provide the industry with the full range of learning routes.

// The author is UK country manager for Panasonic //
17 April 2013

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