UK: Air conditioning distributor AMP is investing in new training facilities and expanding its technical team to support growth.
The company is doubling capacity at its dedicated Toshiba training centre in Welwyn Garden City to accommodate up to 16 installers at a time, and equipping it with examples of the latest Toshiba VRF, heat pumps and control systems.
It will enable the company to undertake practical hands-on training using working equipment, alongside its existing classroom-based facility.
AMP will offer a full line-up of modules in Toshiba’s recently expanded air conditioning and controls training scheme. As part of a widening focus in the North, it will also offer courses at Toshiba’s recently opened training centre in Manchester.
The company reports that by far the most popular course offered is the VRF module, due to continuing expansion in the sector and the rapid development of technology and related controls. It is working on a dedicated one-day VRF design and application course to meet this need.
AMP, which is also a distributor for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, is also expanding its technical support team as part of a company-wide apprenticeship and skills initiative. New starters undertake on-the-job training supported by block release courses, provided by Ellis Training.
The nine-strong technical support team has more than 100 years of industry experience between them. Headed by technical manager Mark Gordon, it provides both on-site and remote support for installers, with a controls specialist providing expert help in commissioning and equipment diagnostics.
The company adopts a systematic approach, logging and analysing all support calls and outcomes. Mark Gordon says: “It enables us to identify patterns and issues that otherwise may not have come to light. For example, we can track the most common problems, and devise training to address the underlying causes.”
The requirements of the new F-gas regulations currently pose the biggest single challenge, he says. “As a supplier, we take a highly responsible approach and will only supply to installers who can prove they are F-gas compliant. In practice, because there is – as yet – no central register, this means asking for copies of relevant certificates and logging them on our system.”
He adds: “This is obviously not the most efficient way of doing things. There is a definite need for a central, nationally administered register, perhaps along similar lines to that operated by the DVLA for licences. It would enable everyone in the supply chain to quickly check the status of a customer, and be sure they are properly qualified under F-gas.”
Remote diagnostics offers one of the most promising opportunities to streamline technical support in the future, he believes. The company has installations the length and breadth of the UK, and sending an engineer to a distant site can be costly in terms of time, manpower and environmental impact.
“We have installations in Scotland, for example, and recently experienced an issue at one of the sites. From Welwyn Garden City, we were able to remotely view the current status and operational history of the equipment, and come to an intelligent view about what was actually going on. It is a great facility and we have only just begun to tap the potential.”