All in the classroom!

The success achieved by our conventions during Refrigera imposes us a change of pace that was already in our intentions and in the imprint of the new presidency started in June; however, it had sensational confirmations at the exhibition. During the three-day Bologna trade fair manifold demands for technical and regulatory support arrived at our stand or in the course of roundtables, and numerous criticalities emerged about both the management and the use of new natural and flammable refrigerants and the application of sector regulations and directives.

Assofrigoristi and its Technical Scientific Committee have transposed the demands coming from the sector and have immediately started working to support refrigeration technicians in this time of extraordinary ferment of the whole sector dealing with an epochal change, caused by the existing, and in the next future growing, restrictions, to meet the requirements imposed by the climatic change, recently discussed also during COP 26 held in Glasgow at the beginning of November.

We are putting into practice a programme that provides for the punctual and widespread information on the territory, through information meetings to be held in presence (wherever possible) or through remote meetings to update our members and non- about the technical and regulatory evolution in progress, the possibilities offered by the sector in the various applicative ambits.

For this reason, already since December 2021, we have started meeting with our supporters, to debate the themes we partially faced in Refrigera conventions and that we will propose to refrigeration technicians, explaining them that there are growth possibilities that can be linked also with the impositions that come from regulations.

Information workshops

  1. Disposal, recycling and regeneration of gases

The first cycle of meetings will concern the theme, already debated at Refrigera, of the RECYCLING; REGENERATION and DISPOSAL of the refrigerating gas, virtuous practices imposed by the F-gas directive and provided for by EN378-4 regulations. We will present our position to participants and we will provide them with a detailed analysis on refrigerant recycling methodologies, with a check list produced by the Technical Scientific Committee that resembles a list of operations to be executed verbatim, to have the certainty of having correctly carried out the refrigerant recycling operation; through refrigerant gas distributors, our supporters, we will then present the regeneration and disposal services that are available on the market, with relative possibilities for the refrigeration technician.

Since when the F-Gas Regulation has been published, the refrigerant disposal has been a topical issue, but today numbers clearly express the problem: a minimum part of the refrigerant extracted from plants is regenerated and disposed; still today, unfortunately, the remaining part is dispersed in the atmosphere, with the damages this generates for climate. Assofrigoristi, together with the whole chain, has been promoter of the definition of a shared course, so that all sector players become aware of the matter. This is not the only initiative on the subject: on one hand, we are honoured and on the other hand positively involved in the project that AssoClima and AssoGasTecnici started last year, in July, for the study of a consortium methodology that provides for the disposal management in organized form, compliant with procedures, on the national territory.

  1. PED regulation and its application

The second cycle of information meetings will concern the PED issue, a topic treated several and several times but still today not fulfilled in most installations. Assofrigoristi has decided further investing in the matter: we will develop some information workshops in which we will free instruct participants on how it is possible to draw up a technical dossier and carry out the EC marking for pressurized machines in refrigerating plants.

In these workshops we will not deal with (or only marginally) the directive, but we will focus on how the directive is applied to refrigeration and conditioning plants, and we will present in preview our idea to approach the refrigeration technician to PED, proposing a software dedicated, conceived and developed by Assofrigoristi to draw up the technical dossier.

  1. Flammable refrigerants

The third topic on which a cycle of information meetings will be developed is a theme of extreme topicality in this period: we will produce an overview session on FLAMMABLE REFRIGERANTS, trying explaining the difference of treatment and of design of plants between an A2L and an A3 appliance, examining thoroughly the design specifications, proposing specific attention to risk analyses, analysing how PED changes and instructing about the provisions of the Consolidated Safety Act, the famous Legislative Decree 81/2008, in the use of slightly or highly flammable refrigerants. Moreover, we will briefly report what competences are expected from the refrigeration technician who operates on this kind of plants and how many precautions are necessary for a correct approach to state-of-the-art refrigerants.

Training, the driving engine of profession

Moreover, the season of training courses starts again, to make our sector grow and to enhance it to high competence standards: we have designed courses by steps, purposely devised to enhance technicians’ training at all levels, restarting from all those courses that we already delivered in the past and upgrading them to make them topical versus the latest reviews and novelties in the field of the legislation and standardization and technical sector developments.

Courses that we have grouped into three sets will be available

  1. Vocational courses

– BASE REFRIGERANT TECHNICIAN COURSE, a course conceived for those who approach for the first time the world of the refrigeration plant engineering, aimed at providing the base elements about the circuits and the components of plants. A course already tested in schools and very useful for those who approach the refrigeration world with passion.

– an ADVANCED REFRIGERATION TECHNICIAN COURSE, with theoretical and practical session on plant engineering, the devices and the solutions for the improvement of plants’ performances and efficiency and a focus dedicated to the safety management.

– MANDATORY PLANT DOCUMENT COURSE that all-round analyses the documentary obligations that must be taken by an enterprise that installs air refrigeration or conditioning plants, the necessary qualifications required by regulations, starting from the registration at the Trade Chamber, including the F-Gas license, and up to the license for welders’ and braziers’ competences, and the documentation the company must release to final customers to be compliant with legislative provisions.

  1. Courses on refrigerants

– TECHNICAL COURSE ON A2L FLAMMABLE REFRIGERANTS, which provides for a design activity, shared with participants, of a refrigeration plant cooled by a gas with low GWP, the in-depth study of the sizing logics of a plant on the mean point instead of on the dew point and the analysis of the differences existing between the two calculation selections. Specific attention will be paid to the theme of the maximum refrigerant charge according to EN378-1 and in the practical part the risks in place and the necessary equipment will be analysed.

– TECHNICAL COURSE ON A3 FLAMMABLE REFRIGERANTS, which provides for a design activity, shared with participants, of a refrigeration plant R290 cooled, the analysis of the regulations in force about the use of these refrigerants, the existing limitations, the ATEX directive and the fire risk plan. In the practical part the risks in place and the necessary equipment will be analysed.

– COURSE FOR THE TOXIC GAS EXAMINATION PREPARATION (NH3), stemmed from an idea by our partner and historical member of the Board of Directors and of the Technical Scientific Committee Mario Scuderi to fully address the examination by the Toxic Gases Commission. Until now, there were no courses intended for the education of technicians who intend to take the exam to obtain the toxic gas licence. The course is subdivided into five theoretical modules, with the addition of a facultative practical one on how the self-contained breathing apparatus and necessary IPD should be worn and used. It is worth highlighting that the course will not treat the issue of the refrigerating technique with ammonia but will focus on all operational aspects that determine the possibility of operating safely with the natural gas most used in big industrial refrigeration plants. The course will be held close to the dates when the examination sessions are planned by the Commissions for the licence achievement.

  • Certification courses

– TRAINING COURSE TO THE EXAMINATION for the FGAS LICENCE and LICENCE EXAMINATION, a fulfilment required by law that we make feasible through a training highly focused on competence

– PED COURSE (PERIODICAL VISITS AND REGISTRATION ON CI.VA WEBSITE) that is to say the PED regulation seen from final customers’ side, for the correct notification of the commissioning and periodical upgrading of pressurized plants. The course provides for the in-depth study of the law that regulates the matter, that is to say the Ministerial Decree 329/04 that provides for periodical checks to be carried out and INAIL (CI.VA) portal where the operator registers the occurred commissioning of the system and updates verification deadlines.

– EN378 COURSE will be dedicated to the in-depth study of what we consider today the reference regulation of refrigeration technicians’ work. A course that will be organized on the four sections of UNI regulation and on the course providing for the analysis of the design, the implementation, the safety and the provisions about refrigeration plants, the installation, the maintenance and the dismantling of HVAC&R systems, with an updated treatment in line with the most recent review of EN378

– MODULAR TRAINING COURSE FOR EN13313 CERTIFICATION the regulation that establishes the refrigeration technician’s competences. The course will range from the thermo-dynamic theory to plant engineering, to design and up to the installation, the maintenance and the troubleshooting. It is also provided a training session on the communication between refrigeration technician and customer, more and more relevant topic and competence considering that increasingly complex awareness about energy, environmental and regulation matters is expected from the refrigeration technician. Each training module will examine an aspect provided for by the regulation and at the end of the course they will have faced and thoroughly analysed all the necessary competences to successfully pass the examination pursuant to the scheme prearranged by the Notified Body Apave Italia CPM for the achievement of the certification as refrigeration or cold technician EN13313. The subdivision into a module system will allow interested people to choose whether to take part in the whole training course or only in the parts where they feel lacking.

– EN13313 EXAMINATION AND CERTIFICATION the final act of the training course for REFRIGERATION TECHNICIAN: a certification of voluntary character that we deem fundamental for an accomplished professional growth, also considering that more and more often large builders and specifications for tenders indicate it as a binding requisite to allow technicians to carry out their work.

As you can see, Assofrigoristi has implemented a quite ambitious and articulated information and training system, but we do not want to consider this operation as completed, because there are increasingly important and urgent aspects, since the market demand is pressing: we are referring in particular to the rampant growth of the use of carbon dioxide as refrigerating fluid, which leads us to organize very soon also a TECHNICAL course on CO2 plants, with which we will physically work at transcritical systems with our technicians and we will go into the technical detail concerning the ejector, its operation and its functionality and we will analyse a complex transcritical circuit not only on the paper but with practical tests on operating machines.

Training before entering the market

The Technical Scientific Committee is providing for a complete scholastic educational course, thanks to the collaborations we have already established at Magenta with ASLAM and with the Technical Industrial Institute Meucci in Florence: the target is developing and optimizing, according to these first experiences, a real study course intended for creating the junior refrigeration technician, whom we will be able to export on the whole national territory, establishing collaborations with public or private training institutes for the creation of future refrigeration technicians.

The meaning of a design investment

Why this choice? Because the refrigeration and conditioning world is changing at fast rates, and it will do that with higher and higher intensity, since there is a more and more widespread awareness of cold processes’ incidence on the global environmental emergency.

The climatic change is a problem that imposes a radical substantial change of the exploitation of available energies and the fundamental need of limiting the release of polluting substances into the atmosphere. This change is generating new technologies that often imply a rise of complexity of the refrigeration circuit, with new components unknown, or almost unknown, until today: an example of this increased complexity is the exponential growth of machines’ work pressures, as well as the increment of refrigerating solutions characterized by flammability, in some cases low but very high in others.

All this must be counterbalanced by an exponential rise of the competences and of the professionalism of those who operate on this appliance type: an aspect, which has always been fundamental for Assofrigoristi, today has an even more relevant meaning because, without the right competences, we are doing a very bad service to the planet from the point of view of plants’ energy management and their safety.

The more complex available solutions, if not correctly mastered, become a cause for the increment of accident risk, especially by a public of technicians who have operated in the sector for several years and are not accustomed to analysing certain types of risk: for these colleagues, just a constant training can produce the necessary change of habits, as well as for young refrigeration technicians it is necessary to enter the market with the correct awareness of the role and of the technique.