Refrigerant Reclaim Australia (RRA) and TAFE have launched a series of new digital training resources for students undertaking the Certificate III Air Conditioning and Refrigeration course.

The project has been in development for the past 18 months.

RRA CEO, Kylie Farelley, said the resources include a series of training videos and an augmented reality (AR) Refrigerant Recovery training app.

She said the resources have been specially developed by RRA and TAFE to provide an innovative and hands-on way to for apprentices to understand the refrigerant recovery processes for different types of equipment.

“In this new era of minimal face-to-face contact it would be easy to claim that the RRA were so visionary we were planning for a pandemic-like situation where remote learning was the norm,” Farrelley said.

“But the truth of the matter is for the past 18 months RRA were preparing to bring TAFE’s refrigeration apprenticeship into the digital age, modernising the way that air-conditioning and refrigeration students learn about refrigerant recovery long before the pandemic hit.

“The processes for recovering refrigerant, pressure testing, evacuating and re-charging systems are critical for both upholding industry best practice and reducing the emission of ozone depleting and high GWP refrigerant gases.

“With each type of system requiring a different recovery process, training new apprentices on all systems can be challenging, especially with budget constraints and rapidly evolving technology.”

Farrelley said the Cert III course is essential for the industry as it provides apprentices with the skills to become qualified air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanics.

“The training video series is a set of three short videos, each explaining a different aspect of the recovery process,” she said.

“The first video explains the environmental damage refrigerants can cause if emitted to atmosphere, and what global actions have, and are, being taken to reduce the impacts.

“The second video describes how refrigerant in systems at end-of-life can be a valuable resource, and how RRA provides a rebate for returned unwanted or contaminated refrigerant.

“The final video wraps up the process, describing how recovered refrigerant is safely disposed of using the argon plasma-arc process.”

The video series will be available for download later this month from the RRA website.

The Refrigerant Recovery AR app, is expected to be an indispensable resource for TAFE and the industry, providing apprentices with a comprehensive and interactive learning platform.

Farrelley said the app works on all smartphones and tablets that support augmented reality.

RRA will also be launching the desktop version that can be used on all modern PC’s and Mac’s.

“The app allows apprentices to fully understand the recovery process for split system air conditioners, vehicle air conditioners and industrial refrigeration systems,” she said.

“The app can be easily modified to include different types of equipment as new technologies emerge.”

Using the app, apprentices select a system and watch a detailed walkthrough before undertaking the process themselves through an interactive AR experience.

“By training with this modern-day tool, apprentices have a realistic experience of the process without the confines of the classroom, access to tools and the freedom to make errors without compromising safety all while reducing the likelihood of accidental emissions of refrigerant,” Farrelley said.

“The AR app boasts an extensive step-by-step guide of all processes with a high level of detail.” Apprentices are even asked to select the virtual tools and protective personal equipment required for the process before beginning.

The app also includes a ‘Visualisation’ button, allowing apprentices to see and understand what is happening inside the system. This feature includes visualisations demonstrating gas pressure, speed and direction.

“In order for us to continue to improve the industry’s environmental performance through increased recovery rates and build on the past success, it’s vital that our apprentices continue to have access to innovative and comprehensive training tools to learn and understand these critical procedures,” Farrelley said.

“Afterall it is thanks to the hard working, diligent air conditioning and refrigeration technicians and mechanics who have recovered ozone depleting and high GWP refrigerants gram by gram, that RRA have collected more than 7,500 tonne of used and unwanted refrigerant for destruction since our program began. 

“This has prevented 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent being emitted and saved the destruction of 10 million tonne of stratospheric ozone,” she said.

“We could not have achieved this without them.”

Farrelley said she road-tested the app and predicts the response from new apprentices and TAFE teachers alike to be extremely positive.

“What we’ve developed here with TAFE means that our apprentices can continue to learn during this trying time and in the future in a safe and engaging manner,” she said.

 Farrelley has said that these resources will continue to be developed and envisages they will become more widely applicable in the future.

“There’s more we can do, and we’re looking ahead,” she said.

The app will be available for free download from your app store in late May.

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