South African first – Digital Plumber Training Programme
SqwidNet partners with the Institute of Plumbing South Africa to transform plumber training in the industry. The Digital Plumber Training Programme provides 4IR skills to future proof the business of plumbers and drive water-saving behaviour across the country.
SqwidNet, the only licensed Sigfox operator in South Africa, has partnered with the country’s leading plumbing body, the Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA), to launch a South African first: The Digital Plumber Training Programme. This unique training programme was developed in collaboration with Macrocomm, an IOT (Internet of things) company, and Ontec (a leading utility services provider) to provide plumbers with the digital skills and practical know-how required to embrace the digital era, advance their customer offering and grow their business.
“Plumbers sit at the forefront of the water challenges currently facing South Africa, but only a few know how digital solutions can eradicate many of these challenges,” says Phathizwe Malinga, managing director of SqwidNet. “This training programme is designed to empower plumbers so they can digitise their current service to their customers, commercially evolve their offerings and drive adoption of smart water solutions.”
The Digital Plumber Training Programme designed by Macrocomm’s Smart Academy consists of two modules: A Technical and Installation Module, and a Personal Selling Module. The Personal Selling module adds uniqueness and depth to the programme by focusing on the propositioning and business acumen aspects needed by plumbers to develop their business model, and confidently articulate the digital solution value to customers.
IOPSA and the Plumbing Industry Registration Body (PIRB) have accredited the programme and awarded four CPD (Continuing Professional Development) points to the Technical and Installation module, and three CPD points to the Personal Selling Module. Plumbers require 25 CPD points per year to maintain their professional registration with PIRB. This programme supports and promotes the continuous development of the plumber’s skills and knowledge, offering plumbers a novel way to remain relevant and compliant with registration requirements. This training programme was originally developed as a hands-on, in-class programme, and has subsequently been adapted to an online programme to suit the new regulations put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We crafted a specialised offering for plumbers that is designed to give them the skills, understanding and expertise they need to expand their market share and offer their customers new and inventive solutions,” says Nick Joubert, National Training Manager at IOPSA. “They can use the skills that they learn in the programme to create consumer-friendly solutions that they can easily sell. Certified digital plumbers have the flexibility to bundle the offering as their own or develop it into more advanced solutions for the business market through partnerships.
“The training programme itself is delivered by IOPSA and Macrocomm, both companies providing essential expertise and support to those attending the course,” says Joubert. “It is focused on upskilling plumbers and assisting them with the transition to the IOT-based smart water solutions. It also introduces them to SABS-approved smart water solutions that leverage IOT to meet the pressing water scarcity issues in the country.”
Complementary to the digital plumber training is an off-the-shelf Sigfox-enabled smart water solution, designed and built with SqwidNet partners, Macrocomm and Ontec. The solution is intuitive, simple and cost-effective – ideally suited for certified digital plumbers to take to market.
SqwidNet Chief Solution Officer, Ushal Moonsamy, adds that bringing together expert partners was crucial in designing the ground-breaking digital plumber initiative. This has resulted in the crafting of a holistic solution for plumbers that includes IOT technical and sales skills development, an easy-to-use smart water product, nationwide availability and support. “It’s this type of trust and collaboration that shifts industries forward, changes behaviours and achieves exponential outcomes.”
The smart water meter solution allows certified digital plumbers to convert their customers’ ordinary water meters quickly and easily into smart water meters. The solution enables the plumber to advance their offering by providing a service to proactively manage leak detection, effect necessary repairs and maintenance repairs, and systematic ways in which to reduce water consumption. When the solution detects water leaks, it instantaneously notifies the homeowner or business owner, and the plumber, who can quickly and proactively fix the problem. The solution not only offers immense financial value to the user in terms of preventing bill shock – a sudden astronomical bill due to undetected leaks - but also provides everyone with real-time awareness of their water usage and consumption patterns over time. The smart water solution is app-enabled – using their mobile device, users can set goals, monitor their usage and constructively challenge themselves to change their water-using habits.
“Understanding how and when water is used not only saves money for the customer, but it also goes a long way towards managing the current water crisis,” concludes Malinga. “Every part of this solution, from the training course to the tools and solutions on offer, has been designed to support one of the very real challenges that our country faces today.”
The Digital Plumber Training Programme, developed by SqwidNet, Macrocomm, Ontec, and IOPSA, is the first accredited training programme of its kind in South Africa and the local industry. It creates new opportunities for plumbers in the country and ensures that they gain highly relevant skills while completing their mandatory CPD training and simultaneously changing the game in water conservation.