The foodservice equipment market is still heavily polarised when it comes to the availability of manufacturer-led training for catering engineers.
Distributors and service companies acknowledge that it is vital to keep engineers up-to-date with the appliances they work on, but remain divided over the quality and accessibility of training courses.
Some question just how easy it really is to get on some courses created and provided by suppliers.
“Manufacturers’ training is always helpful to any engineer but many manufacturers are reluctant to train engineers outside those employed by their service partners,” said Kirstin Hatherley, director at Nottinghamshire-based Hatherley Commercial Services.
“Information sources and technical resources are becoming more readily available now as engineers are carrying smart phones and many technical manuals and drawings are available on-line, but manufacturers really do need to play a bigger part in training engineers — after all they are out there repairing their equipment.”
Ian Berrow, managing director of C&C Catering Engineers, agrees that some simply suppliers don’t want to train external engineers even though he thinks that overall the situation is improving.
“Getting engineers on manufacturers’ courses can be quite difficult and while generally I think it is easier than it used to be, some simply don’t want to train external engineers. They say this is to ensure the standards are maintained, but I suspect it’s as much about a fear of losing their ‘hold’ on the market.”
Peter Baulch, service manager for Gratte Brothers, said he has never had a problem arranging training with a manufacturer in 20 years of working in the industry, but conceded there was a culture of protectiveness among some brands.
“The majority of manufacturers have a technical helpline to provide assistance if it is required. There are a few who have a helpdesk facility, but they will not take an enquiry for assistance if the engineer has not attended their training course.”
Peter Kay, CEDA’s director of technical support, said work is being done to create a more unified industry approach to putting catering engineers through their paces.
He commented: “Training by manufacturers is mixed, with some offering it and some not at all. CEDA is trying to collate information and encourage more suppliers to offer training on their equipment to service engineers. It is hoped that we may be able to coordinate courses for suppliers and even arrange the venue if the manufacturer does not have the facilities.”
He said CEDA had already done this with the WRAS Approved Catering Installer Scheme courses, with more than 160 engineers achieving the accreditation so far.