“Plumbers are in 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.
SqwidNet, the only licensed Sigfox operator in South Africa, has partnered with 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 base by adding smart water meter solutions, and grow their business.
The smart water meter solution allows certified digital plumbers to convert their customers’ ordinary water meters into smart water meters. The solution enables the plumbers 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 devices, users can set goals, monitor their usage and constructively challenge themselves to change their water-using habits.
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.
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.