The latest regulations mean training within the air conditioning industry has become paramount. Here, Gary Barrington, training manager at Daikin Airconditioning UK, discusses the issues now facing installers and what they can do to stay one step ahead and offer the best possible service to customers
WITHOUT doubt, the air conditioning sector is developing at a rapid rate. The main thrust of this development can be attributed to government legislation introduced to set minimum energy efficiency standards that buildings must adhere to.
Part L of the Building Regulations and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) were introduced for the non-domestic sector last April. These regulations concentrate on the whole fabric of a building, to improve energy performance standards and reduce carbon emissions.
For manufacturers, this has ultimately raised the bar on product development and the response has been excellent. There is now a range of efficient, cost-effective and innovative air conditioning systems on the market that meet and exceed legislation requirements, offering more options.
Demand heating up
Another major factor that has contributed to the evolving market is the surge in demand for air conditioning. It has been well documented in the media that 2006 was one of the hottest years on record, and industry experts have predicted there will be a steady rise in UK temperatures in the future resulting from climate change.
Obviously, this has forced building services managers and homeowners alike to address climate control issues and seek a solution that will improve the comfort of their internal environment.
The launch of new products into the marketplace ultimately has a knock-on effect in terms of the number of calls manufacturers receive for technical data. In order to make this transition as smooth as possible and ensure end-users can benefit from new technology, it is important the right training courses and support are available and easily accessible. Not only will this keep installers up to date with the latest developments, but it will also give them a competitive advantage, as they will be able to offer a superior service to customers.
Part of Daikin's commitment to providing a first-class service to customers is its responsibility to help installers and specifiers develop their skills or refresh their existing knowledge.
This is done through the provision of a range of training programmes at its newly refurbished Technology Centre in Woking and regional training facilities located in Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham. In 2006, more than 1,500 engineers visited one of Daikin's facilities.
The centres promote the technology inherent in current Daikin products, such as water-cooled variable refrigerant volume. The Technology Centre at Woking also contains its new Altherma product, a residential heating, hot water and cooling system, and Conveni-pack, a convenience store refrigeration and air conditioning system.
The training courses are run by an expert training team and provide delegates with a thorough understanding of the latest air conditioning, heat pump, VRV and refrigeration systems, including installation, commissioning and servicing and maintenance. There is also a course on advanced intelligent computerised control packages for effective building control and monitoring.
For installers requiring training support for more unusual projects not covered by regular training programmes, tailor-made courses can also be designed to suit customers' individual needs.
Filling the gap
Daikin also recognise that the skills shortage has loomed large over the air conditioning industry for a number of years. This is due to an ageing workforce, and fewer younger engineers undertaking the training required to enter the industry.
To combat this, Daikin has made a commitment to training the building services engineers of the future by offering a training course for apprentices. The course gives them a basic understanding of advanced air conditioning systems, with the aim of providing multi-skilled engineers for the industry.
Daikin’s aim is to raise the potential for the dissemination of air conditioning technology within the industry to even greater heights, providing an effective balance between theoretical and practical knowledge. This will help raise customer satisfaction.
It is the company’s primary consideration that the end user gains the maximum benefits from the research and development investments it makes each year.
For more information visit www.daikin.co.uk