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Vision of future at core of new certification program for electrical contractors

Schneider Electric has launched the EcoXpert global training and certification program for electrical contractors.

The program, aimed at medium-sized electrical contractors, aims to develop them from installers of systems to “certified energy experts” in order to meet the changing needs of customers.

The program, which costs around $1200 a year, and will train contractors to advise, sell and install a range of pre-engineered energy solutions across small to medium sized commercial, industrial buildings and high-end residential sites.

The EcoXpert program is structured into three levels of certification. The first level “Specialist” are trained in specific sectors including EV charging stations, solar equipment, lighting management and energy efficiency improvement.

The second level “Energy Adviser” is for electrical contractors who want to take a holistic approach to energy efficiency solutions.

The third level “Advanced” deals with automation and control of energy.

Training methods include e-learning, classroom-based training and one-on-one sessions, with access to a dedicated web portal during the program, as well as help with marketing materials and report generation.

Efficiency needed to combat cost rises

EcoXpert Program Manager Simon Hill said the program will allow electrical contractors to adapt to growing trends such as the need to deal with rising energy costs, and a diversifying mix of energy sources.

“We are going to see an increase in renewables. We are going to see moves to coal seam gas, oil from sand, etc,” Hill told the audience of electrical contractors at the launch event. “By 2030, we will use a double amount of electricity, offset by a need to reduce our emissions by half.”

While these changes are driven by government policies and global reality, Hill said mid-size clients, the target of the EcoXpert program, have thus far had little help in preparing for the future.

“For the top end, the big industries, they know what they need to do, they have people, plans, and most of the big incentives from government are targeting them,” Hill explained. “At the bottom end, with the home and small user, there are systems and rebates to push for change.”

“But for the middle, the small to businesses, the collected residential, from 1000 to 5000 square metres, they have done a little bit based on what they understand from what is coming up from the bottom, but they are looking for advice to take it to the next step.”

Connectivity and the race for the future

David Gardner, VP of power at Schneider Electric, says more advanced applications are on the horizon, and the program will enable contractors to keep abreast of these changes. One of these is the trend of connecting more things to the Internet and deriving data and control over them.

“Everything these days is going to be connected to the internet in some fashion. For us, in this industry, this is really a race. We will have, not too far down the track, smart power points, and smart appliances are already being installed today,” Gardner said.

“Even around the electric vehicle, a big part of that offer is not just the charging station, but the software and billing services that go along with that product.”

The need today has changed from simply control over equipment, to both control and efficiency optimisation, and information is the key for that to happen.

“A big part of connectivity is accessing this information. It’s about giving the customer visualisation so they can know what is going on in their business,” Gardner said.

“Our global competitors in the future will be the partners of today…we’ll be up against Google, IBM, Yahoo and CISCO. Everything you do today in terms of the product will affect connectivity and information access in the future.”

Gardner, citing the strong growth of the energy management and sustainability industry in Australia, assured the audience of Schneider Electric’s commitment to the program.

“This is one market which is in its infancy, in its early days, and is something Schneider Electric is committed to certainly for the foreseeable future,” he said. Today, pretty much every investment we make is made on the top of energy management.”

Schneider Electric and Clipsal launch EcoXpert: a certified training program for the Australian market[To find out more about how to sign up to become an EcoXpert please call 1300 369 233 and ask to speak with an EcoXpert champion in your state. ]

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