“The technician is the person who sees our customers on a day-to-day basis. They have to fully understand the system when they help our customers and give them advice,” explains Bart Driessens, director of service operations at Carrier Commercial Refrigeration Europe, during a walk through the CO2OLacademy.

Carrier, which as of December 2015 had installed its CO2OLtec® system in over 1,800 stores in Europe, aims to set a high knowledge level for its technicians wherever they are based. “As the performance of our CO2 configurations improves, so do they become more complex, and we have to make sure that across all countries within Europe our technicians have the same understanding of CO2 technologies.”

The company continues to run supplementary local training initiatives. But Driessens explains that it makes sense for Carrier to have a central training site that ensures the company can provide its entire network with the necessary knowledge and skills. Mainz, Germany was identified as the ideal location and Carrier opened its central training facility there in March 2015: “It’s in the centre of Europe, where we already had a Research & Development centre close to the airport. We have the right location and expertise here,” said Driessens.

More practice, better results

Carrier organises five-day courses for 7-10 key trainers who come from different countries. Besides picking up technical details, they are also taught how to pass on their knowledge to other people. A few weeks after this training, these key trainers return to Mainz with technicians from their respective countries, and the key trainers teach these technicians in their mother tongue. These two-day trainings are organised in small groups of a maximum of ten participants.

Before the course, technicians receive e-learning material, ensuring that they already have a certain level of knowledge before arriving in Mainz. The training is 40% theoretical knowledge and 60% practical exercises. “You need to have a certain theoretical knowledge, but we realised that this part cannot last too long. The participants constantly work in the field, so we have to do more than provide two days of classroom instruction. Technicians absorb knowledge better if they can see and touch the system, and try it real life,” Driessens explains.

In the past, Carrier used to hold trainings on the site of the customer, but Driessens says the success rate is much higher in the training centre. “Here we can simulate issues that we see in the field: what is the best way to identify root causes, do a refrigerant leak test, or perform a maintenance job, for example. Participants can try these things at the training facility, and if it does not work out, they can try it a second and a third time. This is something that you cannot do at the customers’ site, as you cannot close down their system just for training purposes.”

“We have received very positive feedback, especially regarding the right proportion of theoretical and practical training. People do not see this only as training, but they feel that they are part of a bigger organisation that supports them. As an organisation, investing not only in the hardware, but also in people, is a value that cannot be underestimated,” Driessens notes.

Looking at market needs

Since the opening of the training facility, Carrier has targeted to train approximately 600 people by the end of 2016 by organising training courses for 25 countries – first concentrating on the regions with the highest density of CO2 markets, but also planning to expand the programme to other countries later on.

“Our goal is to make sure that all our in-house technicians are well-trained and that their knowledge is constantly refreshed. At a later stage we also will enlarge the programme to our subcontractors,” Driessens explains.

Carrier looks closely at what the market needs when planning future training. They collect feedback from technicians and former participants, based on which the CO2OLacademy council and the council of key trainers decide what steps to take. “It doesn’t make any sense to write a nice training [course] from a desk. It needs to come from the field,” Driessens says.

This article first appeared in the second edition of Accelerate Europe.

Author r744