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It pays to control your training environment

Training has a critical role to play in enlightened building services companies, says Tim Scarlett

We live in a time driven by ever increasing fuel costs. As a result, contractors and consultants within the commercial and industrial heating sector cannot afford to be anything less than fully up to speed on how to maintain, service, fault-find and commission oil, gas and dual fuel burners. There are many factors to get to grips with from understanding controls, combustion analysis, and the reasoning behind nozzle calculation, to getting the maximum potential in output, efficiency and longevity that a burner needs to be installed and commissioned correctly. It all goes to show that investing time in training is paramount if you want to stay ahead of the game.

Bespoke sessions and courses

There is a range of training courses out there. Some cover current as well as a variety of older burners. Others offer bespoke sessions and courses designed to meet specific customer requirements. So, either way there will be a training course to suit your needs. It is important for courses to have the right balance. If you are to get the best out of training, then courses need to have the right combination of theory and hands-on practical work. When this balance is achieved you will be able to go back to your job filled with the new found confidence to put this learning into good practice.

While products, technology, regulation and legislation change all the time, competition within our industry remains fierce. Training helps to raise standards, not just of an individual or a company, but of the entire industry in the UK as a whole. It is easy to forget that customers will be judging you as an engineer the moment you walk through their door. Therefore it is vital that you are able install confidence in customers from the outset by knowing a product inside out. Doing so is one sure way to get more or referred work.

There is often the opportunity to learn new skills on the job. For example, you might be faced with a scenario that although new to you, you feel that your experience is able to successfully tackle. But, while on the job experience with a new product or technology has its place, it is not always the best environment in which to learn. This is mainly because you will probably be subject to the demands of a busy work schedule.

Training on the other hand allows you to get to grips with products in a controlled environment. Once on a training course you will have the opportunity to find out what happens if you do x, y or z to a burner. You will usually be guided through the whole experience by somebody who is able to call upon examples of a vast array of incidents that often relate to fault finding.

Findings from our technical helpline suggest that there are gaps in electrical knowledge within the gas industry. Today, many appliances require not just some, but an in-depth level of electrical knowledge. Any training investment from those who want to increase their understanding of electrics is money well spent, as many appliances that use gas are also electrically operated.

In recent years there has been a massive improvement in the regulation of training providers. Being guaranteed a pass from any form of training would only serve to be a waste of your time and money.

More challenging courses offer engineers the opportunity to progress their careers by expanding their knowledge to better serve their customer base. This also serves to raise industry standards. In an ever changing world training must continue to be relevant to current products and regulations, informative and keep engineers engaged.

On-site training is useful

Some of the best training can be provided on site. This is particularly useful if a company is having a particular issue with a burner, as training can be combined with a service call to assist in identifying any issues. I still remember the words of the engineer who trained me many years ago.

He said that no matter how long you have been working in this industry you will never know it all. Beware of anyone who says they do, as there is always something new to learn and put into practice.

The author is Nu-way's service director
3 January 2013

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