SOUTH African Internet of things (IoT) network company SqwidNet has partnered with the country’s leading plumbing body, the Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA), to launch what it says is a first for SA, a digital plumber training programme.

SqwidNet Managing Director Phathizwe Malinga said the programme was developed in collaboration with another IoT company, Macrocomm, 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. 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,” Malinga said.

Digital plumber training programme a first for SA

The Digital Plumber Training Programme designed by Macrocomm’s Smart Academy consists of a technical and installation module, and a personal selling module.

According to Malinga, the personal selling module adds uniqueness and depth to the programme by focussing 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.

Nick Joubert, National Training Manager at IOPSA said the training programme, originally developed as a hands-on, in-class programme, was 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,” said Joubert.

“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.”

SqwidNet is the only licensed operator in South Africa of Sigfox, a French global network operator that builds wireless networks to connect low-power objects such as electricity meters and smartwatches, which need to be continuously on and emitting small amounts of data.

Complimentary to the Digital Plumber training is an off-the-shelf Sigfox enabled smart water solution, designed, and built with SqwidNet partners, Macrocomm and Ontec. SqwidNet Chief Solution Officer Ushal Moonsamy said this is intuitive, simple, and cost-effective – ideally suited for certified digital plumbers to take to market.

The smart water meter solution allows certified digital plumbers to convert their customers’ ordinary water meters quickly and easily into smart water meters. Upgraded meters can detect water leaks and instantaneously notify the homeowner or business owner and the plumber.
The mobile app-enabled technology also lets users set goals and monitor their usage.

“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,” said 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.”

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