Transportation and logistics solutions company Eqstra Flexi Fleet has introduced a new training course at its training academy, specifically designed to equip qualified auto electricians and diesel mechanics to work on refrigeration units fitted within cold chain vehicles.
According to Eqstra Flexi Fleet CEO Jacqi Carr, this is the only course of its kind in South Africa accredited by the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education Training Authority. The training academy is situated at State-owned defence company Denel’s Kempton park campus, in Gauteng.
She notes that commercial vehicle refrigeration units present their own challenges. They are mobile, and therefore exposed to vibration and movement. In addition, they require an alternative power source. For instance, when the vehicle is located at a warehouse, the unit is powered by three-phase electricity, however, when the vehicle is on the road, the unit uses the diesel engine to power either the generator or compressor to keep the cooling unit active.
“Technicians working on these units need to be qualified diesel mechanics or auto electricians. They also need to be knowledgeable about closed loop gas systems and be competent with regard to fault finding, brazing and pressurised systems. All these elements are covered in the training course content,” Carr says.
On successful completion of the course, she says the refrigeration technicians will obtain an OHS section 1; 8; 13; 14 gas compliance certificate, NQF Level 2 and a transport refrigeration certificate, NQF Level 4. Thereafter, the technician may apply to the South African Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Contractors Association to become an authorised gas practitioner.
“Owing to the harsh climate we operate in, cold chain requirements are significant. “Our company owns a fleet of commercial vehicles requiring cooling solutions, which require servicing and occasional repairs. “Owing to the lack of formalised training in this area, we have introduced the course for our own technicians with the intention to open it to the broader industry over time,” she explains.
Other courses offered by the Eqstra Training Academy include Yellow Plant diesel technicians, commercial truck technicians and boilermakers.