Is manufacturer training worth your time?

Published:  12 June, 2018

HVP Editor Joe Dart attended a Baxi training day to find out what installers can gain from manufacturer training.

Dedicated training days are a great option for installers who wish to build their knowledge and expertise, both generally and in a specific area. It should be a no-brainer, but a training day can be a risk, especially for smaller companies – it means a day off the tools, and the loss of potential income.

HVP recently attended a product training day, hosted by boiler manufacturer Baxi, to find out more about what installers can learn by attending. This particular session took place at Baxi’s training centre in Dartford, but the manufacturer offers similar training across the UK, at locations including Warrington, Exeter, Leeds, and Glasgow.

At the start of the day, we were shepherded into a classroom to learn more about Baxi’s product range, as well as some of the recent commissioning changes. Our trainer for the day was James Hodgson, who has over 30 years’ experience in the heating industry. He joined Baxi as a service engineer in 2008, before moving to the training department in 2015. Over the course of the day’s training, his expertise shone through. The teaching was clear and concise, and a healthy dose of humour helped to keep the attendees engaged through a comprehensive day of learning.

Firstly, James took us through some of the common product options available and their various merits, including the manufacturer’s new Baxi 600 Combi boiler, launched in November 2017, as well as the Baxi 200 and 400. Following that, James gave us an overview of some of the recent and future regulatory changes which are affecting installers.

Although the ErP Directive has been in force for a number of years, James explained to attendees that, come 1 Jan 2020, if you need to replace a standard pump in an existing boiler, it must be ErP-compliant, so you won’t be able to replace it like-for-like. Newer ErP compliant pumps manage flow differently to existing standard pumps and feature different pump housing. This means that if a manufacturer has not produced a kit to allow that particular boiler to utilise an ErP-compliant pump, that boiler will have to be scrapped as the pump can’t be replaced.

James also covered the recently introduced Boiler Plus and explained what installers need to do to comply. With costs for flue gas heat recovery, load compensation, weather compensation, and smart control with automation and optimisation being passed onto the end user, he explained that Baxi has introduced a new low cost option for compliance – the Multifit IFOS – an in-flue outdoor sensor compatible with all horizontal flues, which complies with the requirements of Boiler Plus when combined with time and temperature control.

Once regulations were out of the way, and attendees refuelled with a quick coffee break, we moved into the workshop to see the products up close. James ran everyone through the commissioning process for the Baxi 600 boiler, including gas valve testing, CO/CO2 reading, and voltage testing using a multimeter, answering any questions that attendees had along the way.

A spotlight on the Baxi 400 boiler led onto a break for lunch and, once fed, we were then whisked back in the workshop and the installers got some hands-on training with test rigs. All the installers in attendance got a close look at what makes the boilers tick, which they found valuable.

Asghar Ismael Nejad of APG, said: “I’m quite new, so I wanted to see more about [the Baxi 600]. I thought it was interesting learning some servicing and commissioning, taking part – that’s what I wanted to see.”

Robert Baker of Boilercare also got a lot out of the day’s training. He appreciated the hints and tips for commissioning and servicing the Baxi 600 which he said would mean that he would be “fully armed” when he goes out to work on them in the future.

He added: “I’ve been here a few times, and I always like to come when there are new products out. Especially this time because of the new Boiler Plus regulations – I’d heard about [the IFOS] and it’s lived up to expectations.”

Baxi’s training programmes are well regarded in the industry, with the company reporting a Net Promoter Score of 84% for its training courses across the board. All the installers we spoke to who attended on the day felt they had learned something of value. The verdict from them? Definitely worth your time.