Top tips on becoming a successful electrician
Success in the electrical industry is tough. To reach the top of the field, electricians must not only provide customers with competitive prices, but also consistently deliver the highest quality of work whilst providing the best service. It is truly a multifaceted profession combining the technical, personal and physical.
Sean Miller, Electrician Programme Manager at Schneider Electric looks into how electricians can reach top of the field.
Electrical products are developing at an unprecedented rate, becoming more connected than ever before. Contractors must now understand new technology instantly, ensuring they are offering customers the right solutions. Once they develop a system to stay on top of changes, they will be able to stay in competition with increased revenue. McKinsey predicts the digital world could generate approximately £8 trillion a year by 2025. Electricians can’t afford to miss out on their slice of the pie.
Despite connectivity improving the services on offer, the tech alone won’t keep electricians ahead of their competition. For long-lasting success, electricians need to conduct research into which technologies are the best, and how to install them, on an ongoing basis.
The changing technological landscape
Customer expectations are at an all-time high due to the evolution of technology, in both the commercial and residential sectors. Building managers want complex systems with connected sensors that feed them real-time updates on equipment health. Homeowners are demanding smart home heating systems they can control from their smartphones. That’s a far cry from just wiring a consumer unit.
The electrical industry is no stranger to change, but will everyone be able to keep up? Change is happening now, it’s happening to everything, and it’s happening faster than ever. By 2025 an estimated 26-36 billion devices at home and in the workplace will be equipped with sensors, processers and embedded software. Technology can be disruptive, and disruption can sometimes be frightening if you’re just trying to hold on. Yet while connectivity has a learning curve, it opens new doors for those willing to buy in.
For some electricians, new technology products are daunting. The scope of the technology can seem intimidating, and many don’t believe they have the expertise or knowledge to implement such projects. Consumers too feel out of their depth with the prospect of smart solutions, perceiving them as an investment which can be too complex.
There is no doubt that installing the new technology requires specialist skills. Training programmes are needed to help electrical contractors understand the new components and future potential of home automation. The positive news is that these courses exist and are being created to cause minimal disruption to a normal working schedule.
How does being connected help you to become a better electrician?
You have to remember that every stage of the customer journey now has a connected component. Your customers will find you online while browsing on their phones, but it doesn’t stop there. By using connected devices in your installations, you become more connected to the customer, and when they realise the benefits of your connected offering, they will come to you again and again. It’s the foundation of a long-lasting customer relationship.
The main benefit of connectivity is insight. Depending on where it is installed in a circuit, an IoT-connected sensor can tell a building manager or homeowner many things, from their energy consumption to the health of their equipment. Having this information saves money, reveals opportunities and stops problems before they happen.
As a result, there are great opportunities for digitally skilled electricians in commercial buildings. The buildings and construction sectors account for 36 per cent of global energy consumption. Over the next 20 years, there is potential for savings of over a quarter in space heating and more than 20% in water heating. This means that if your commercial customer isn’t thinking about insight-driven efficiency now, they will be very soon.
To make the most of this opportunity, you must remember that your role as an electrician doesn’t just have to be about providing customers with electricity. You can increase your value-add as a connected consultant able to empower them with insight and optimise operations for the better.
The core benefits
Electricians must remember that connectivity and insights are a benefit to them as well as the customer. For example; when you’re called in for maintenance or repairs, having a pool of data from the connected devices you installed will drastically speed up your workflow. Hours of manual inspection can be replaced by minutes of reading a series of data points.
When supported by insight, you can isolate and resolve a problem much faster. You’ll develop a reputation for speed and efficiency, making it more likely that the customer will call on you again. By working smarter, you work faster. This means you can get more work done in less time, offer more competitive prices and focus on what matters most – growing your customer base and business.
The Acti9 Isobar P distribution board is a good demonstration of how connectivity saves contractors time. With a plug-in RCBO, the board demands much less wiring, cutting installation times by around 50%, ensuring a faster, more competitive job.
Connectivity also makes you safer by putting another layer between you and the live equipment. There’s an inherent danger in every job, whether it’s from electrical shocks or arc flashes. Yet the risks to health and life they pose are greatly diminished when connected technologies are able to do much of the dangerous work for you. What’s more, when an application has more software components than hardware, there is much less of a risk from degrading equipment and more problems can be solved remotely.
With some of today’s digital tools, a contractor can check or even perform maintenance on a device without ever having to touch the enclosure. For example, the MasterPact MTZ circuit breakers can connect to an operator’s phone through an app. Instead of having to open up a distribution board and manually check where a problem might be, a contractor only has to download the app and it will indicate what’s wrong.
Connectivity, of course, is also safer for the customer. When the capabilities are in place for connected monitoring and detection, potential dangers can be flagged and resolved before they snowball into a larger problem. You don’t need to wait until a scheduled check-up before a potentially dangerous fault is discovered. With connected solutions that feed customers real-time insight across their assets, repairs and maintenance can be performed on a proactive, rather than reactive, basis. This means less downtime and, ultimately, safer and happier customers.
To remain competitive and achieve success in the electrical industry, electricians must embrace new technologies and the connectivity that is being established alongside it. By acknowledging and adopting more connected products and the benefits which they can offer, electricians will be able to provide a better quality of service to all customers. As lifestyles change, so too do the needs of customers and it’s important to take stock of the latest products that will cater to modern living. If you want to succeed as an electrician and advance in your position, electricians must continue their electrical training and continue to be open to learning about new and advanced technologies and skills associated with the electrical industry.