CO2 training shows an industry hungry for upskilling

Recent CO2 transcritical training carried out by CA Group with City Facilities Management (City FM) refrigeration mechanics at retail sites around the country has proved a success – and highlighted an appetite for upskilling in the trade.

The training sessions took place at supermarkets supported by City FM in Victoria and South Australia, making use of a transportable, containerised CO2 transcritical refrigeration system, as well as the refrigeration systems at the supermarkets.

The sessions focused on familiarising participants with the components of the systems, and reviewing procedures for charging, pumping down, changing coalescent filters, adding oil, fault-finding, and changing a drier or compressor.

Brian Toulson, M.AIRAH, Senior Engineer from City FM attended the sessions and says that the training has helped build the knowledge base of the participants.

“The day was informative and relative,” says Toulson. “The training pod is of high build quality, well laid out, and suited to the type of targeted training the supermarket sector will find beneficial in enhancing trades skills as the sector transitions to transcritical systems as a standard.”

Toulson also says that seeing different brands of system in the training pod and onsite in the supermarket was useful, allowing technicians to familiarise themselves with different plant.

CA Group trainer Ian Tuena, AM.AIRAH, agrees that giving participants access to different CO2 transcritical equipment in one training session is beneficial, particularly in Australia’s current training landscape, where sessions are often run by manufacturers and wholesalers on their specific systems.

“Manufacturers can talk to the idiosyncrasies of their systems, no problem,” says Tuena, “but training should be broader than that. We looked around the training space and felt there was no one providing training specifically addressing the field technicians’ issues, so we put our money where our mouth is and built the mobile training unit.”

Tuena says they chose an Advansor rack because of its simplicity in design – enabling the technician to easily understand the concepts of a two-stage system.

“From there, we develop their understanding of what happens within the system when operating in transcritical mode,” says Tuena. “We then ‘commission’ the rack and note its operational performance. Once they are comfortable with the operation of the transcritical CO2 system we move into practical training on the service tasks previously mentioned.

“We then proceed to reviewing the same tasks on the instore rack, which may be from Bitzer, SCM, Heatcraft or any other manufacturer. That way the mechanics can go into a store and work on whatever’s there.”

Tuena notes that there is already a broad range of systems in use, and with CO2 transcritical refrigeration gaining traction in the Australian market, that is only going to increase.

“The mechanics are looking for hands-on training,” he says.

According to Tuena, mechanics are also looking for an officially recognised certificate or qualification to go with their training. He points out that most TAFE colleges are transitioning to the new UEE courses, with course materials yet to be finalised. Additionally, few training facilities have the in-house equipment to do the practical aspects of the transcritical CO2 training.

“The mobile model can provide a solution to this problem,” Tuena says. “It can be taken anywhere it is required to allow a training facility to complete the practical aspects of the training module once the course content is finalised and accepted by ASQA.

“We are hoping to repeat this concept for training in all natural refrigerants modules like ammonia and the new flammable refrigerants modules.”

Image shows training held in South Australia with CA Group at Airefrig Wingfield branch.

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