After COVID-19 Ben Bartle-Ross explores how things might change in future

It is clear that we are still a long way from getting back to anything approaching ‘normal’ with the current pandemic.

But at least we now have three different vaccines and it is looking like there is going to be a way out of this terrible situation.

I know that there are many who will never be able to get back to normal because of the loss of friends, family or colleagues due to COVID and my heart goes out to them.

For the wider society though, we need to discover ways to allow us to mix and socialise without endangering ourselves or anyone else – just like we used to before all this happened.

We are also seeing a change in attitude to how we heat, cool and ventilate

Ben Bartle Ross Ben Bartle-Ross Technical trainer

Same old same old?

And this got me thinking about ‘normal’ and what it even is or was, and then I wondered whether we should just rush back to the same old, same old?

Ask yourself for example, how much you miss cramming on to a commuter train to stand all the way into work?

Or how much pleasure you really got from being in traffic jams, stressed out that once again, the hold ups had made you late for yet another meeting or appointment?

For me as a trainer, the pandemic has provided interesting challenges as we had to quickly develop online versions of our training courses to ensure we could still help our customers and their staff.

This meant a steep learning curve for me and my colleagues and, whilst I wouldn’t claim Hollywood levels of production, we now run effective, live training for engineers, with incredibly positive feedback from attendees.

Hands on

Of course there are still things that we can’t do online and I long for the day that I can stand in our training facility with engineers to deliver the ‘hands on’ elements of working on air conditioning or heat pumps.

But having now moved over two-thirds of our training online also means we have been able to increase the number of people trained by more than 400%.

And this is important as we are currently standing on the cusp of what will be a significant opportunity for our industry, as the nation looks for ways to transition to zero carbon by 2050.

A huge part of this transition will be the rapid move from gas and oil heating to sustainable heat pumps and this is where the training becomes really important.

A real opportunity

Whilst it is fairly straightforward to go from installing gas boilers to fitting heat pumps, anyone who has been working in the air conditioning industry for the past 5 years or more is at a distinct advantage.

You have understood the adaption of DX technology from air conditioning into domestic hot water, and you understand the in’s and out’s of F-Gas and refrigerants.

You therefore understand how to size units for the differing requirements and this puts you ahead of Mr Gas and Mr Oil, and means you are ready to take advantage of the huge growth that is about to come.

I think we are also seeing a change in attitude to how we heat, cool and ventilate our buildings.

It’s not just about comfort or run costs now and people understand and are more focused on the need to deliver sustainability.

It’s about the whole cycle of design, install, commission, run, and maintain – something we’ve all been trained to do anyway – Now what could be more ‘normal’?

Ben Bartle-Ross is a technical trainer at Mitsubishi Electric