Dan Wild, Business Unit Director for Conex Bänninger, discusses the continuing value of training, especially if ACR engineers are to keep up-to-date with new technologies.
When it comes to training, in many ways we are living in a brave new world. Opportunities to meet in person, shake hands, then sit down together and share a cuppa as we discuss new products and installation techniques have all but disappeared.
Ours has always been a very practical industry, where the skills needed each and every day are literally in the installer’s hands, learned on-site in a training session or on-the-job. But, alas, life has changed. This part of working life has gone almost entirely digital. This was probably always going to happen, but circumstances have accelerated it.
I used the word ‘brave’ because what used to be face-to-face has become face-to-interface, whether that’s a tablet, laptop or mobile phone.
No longer is the person delivering the training on-site or in the same room; the installer or engineer is now having to put their trust in someone on the ‘other side’ of a digital screen.
Installers and manufacturers have had to adapt and there are advantages to this new way of learning, including no travelling, which subsequently saves time.
Often the sessions are recorded and can be accessed at any time in the day or night. If a training course is in a modular format, the installer can complete a module, save it, and then come back to the next one later.
The industry has moved fairly rapidly to this new way of learning.
Less rapid has been the adoption of press technology for air conditioning and refrigeration applications, although the numbers are growing daily.
The vast majority of those who have tried it have converted, never to go back. But there remain significant numbers for whom the traditional brazing technique is still the ‘go to’ pipework jointing method, and have yet to try press.
Press technology has been in use in the wider heating and plumbing industry in the UK since the 1980s. Still, it’s only recently that vision and innovative design have created the opportunity to launch it within the ACR arena.
The goal was to develop a press fit system that would operate successfully with the higher pressures required for air conditioning and refrigeration applications. For example, the Conex Bänninger fitting, >B< MaxiPro, is designed for use with pressures up to 48 bar.
For those yet to make the move from brazing to press, the benefits are worth restating.
Press is flame-free. As a mechanical joint is completed with a press tool, there is no requirement to carry around unwieldy gas bottles. This can be so inconvenient when installing an air conditioning system when multiple units are often on the roof. All those trips up and down the stairs! Not only does press negate the need for these hazardous materials used in brazing, because it is flame-free, there is no need for a hot work permit.
Or put it another way, productivity. Completing a press joint is quicker than traditional brazing. Once initial preparation has been done, it takes just five seconds to complete the joint, using a press tool and jaws. The two-hour fire watch with brazing is no longer needed, and there is no waiting around for a joint to cool before the installer can move on to the next one. The length of time will vary depending on the installation, but some installers who have fitted air conditioning systems using >B< MaxiPro have told us it has helped reduce time spent on the job by up to 60%.
Correctly carried out, press joints are secure and permanent. The amount of time needed for each one is predictable. This means contractors can have greater confidence that jobs will be completed within the planned time-frame.
Speed and predictability are so important in today’s world, especially when construction has been earmarked as one of the major drivers for an economic recovery.
The advantages of the press fit system also give ACR installers and contracting companies a competitive edge over others who have not yet adopted the new ‘smart’ skills needed or the technology.
This brings us back to the importance of training. You can’t just pick up a press tool and get to work.
You need to understand how it works;
Which jaw set to use
How to cut and clean the pipe
Select the correct fitting
Mark the pipe up so the fitting is properly located
Complete the crimping process.
The good news for installers is the training only takes around an hour. It can be completed through a live virtual training session that can be organised directly with the contractor or merchants who stock our products.
Installers can visit https://bmaxipro.conexbanninger.com/en-gb/ and register for our online e-learning course, which is delivered in three bite-sized modules. By successfully completing the course and becoming a certified >B< MaxiPro installer, the product warranty is extended to 10 years. This is another good reason for undergoing the training, as contracting firms want to know that the people they employ are properly qualified in the systems and tools they are using while on site.