Solar water heater - after-sales service link that is easily neglected

Solar water heater – after-sales service link that is easily neglected

There has never been a mandatory technical threshold and corresponding market access mechanism for solar water heater series products in the Chinese (provincial) market, coupled with the similarities of products across the country, the lack of revolutionary technological innovation for a long time. Qualitative price competition. With the increase of labor wages, prices and costs, the price of solar water heaters is not only stagnant, but even more and more worthless! where is the problem? It can be said that the technical level cannot be improved, the quality is mixed, the good and the bad are mixed, and the after-sales service is getting worse and worse. Many small and micro enterprises “change a place with one shot” and leave after receiving the money. There is no such thing as after-sales service. Take domestic solar water heaters as an example: from the beginning of solar water heaters, from product development and design, manufacturing, marketing, on-site installation, and after-sales maintenance services, the five major links have always been undertaken by each enterprise itself. Large and complete, small and complete are the common characteristics of China’s solar energy industry, whether it is photovoltaic application or solar thermal application.

Small and micro enterprises have limited strength and lack of integrity. In order to escape the long-term responsibility for after-sales service, they can only “guerrilla”. However, some “backbone enterprises” often focus on one thing and lose the other due to the increasingly complex after-sales service tasks due to their multi-faceted and wide-ranging fronts. We often say that solar energy is “built in three parts and managed by seven”. The current situation is that after receiving the money, after installation, it is basically no longer in charge, resulting in a large number of rooftop solar energy out of warranty and disrepair for many years.

Solar water heater
Solar water heater

In addition, solar water heaters, as one of household durable consumer goods, must withstand the severe test of wind, sun, rain and harsh environmental climatic conditions for many years. However, under normal conditions of use, the service life of solar energy equipment is more than ten years; it is not surprising that this kind of product has such or other repair and maintenance problems under the harsh environmental conditions for a long time in use. If you don’t believe me, you just need to go to the roof of any residential building with a solar home system to do a field survey, and you will find that the current situation in front of you is shocking: dripping leaks, rust spots , Glass damage, skewed brackets, aging pipes, leaking joints, failure of the float, accumulation of dirt, water flowing all over the floor, a mess, is a very common phenomenon. Take Kunming, a large provincial capital city with a relatively large scale and high penetration rate, as an example in China. The non-building integrated solar water heaters installed on the roof in a disorderly manner are just like Kunming in appearance. A modern tourist city, causing intolerable visual pollution. It is no wonder that in the 1990s, several old leaders of the former Ministry of Construction came to Kunming to inspect the application of solar water heaters in Yunnan, and sighed, “China’s solar energy is successful in Kunming and also in Kunming!”

The after-sales service of the photovoltaic industry also has a similar problem of “installation without maintenance supervision”. Taking solar street lamps as an example, under normal use conditions, the average life of lead-acid batteries of street lamps is generally 3-5 years; and Compared with the 20-30-year service life of solar photovoltaic cells, during the full service life of each street lamp, maintenance activities such as battery replacement will inevitably occur many times. A newly built ring highway in Kunming City was originally equipped with dozens of solar street lamps on both sides of the road: less than a year after the road was opened to traffic, these street lamps were blinded and turned off, and their limbs were damaged beyond recognition.

Decades of practical experience tell us that no matter whether it is “photovoltaic” or “photothermal” enterprises, under the current industrial structure pattern of “all-in-one” by one enterprise, it is not conducive to any enterprise in the normal development period. , can really be bigger, better, better, more meticulous, and make a well-known brand and commandment. With the increasing popularity of solar water heaters year by year, the workload of after-sales service will become more and more heavy. To do a good job in the after-sales service of solar products, it is very simple to say, but it is very difficult to do. The key is to establish a maintenance and maintenance management and control system of “fixed-point, fixed-person and fixed-responsibility”.

After-sales service work can not only arrange a few people to fight “guerrilla warfare” or “sport warfare”; after the user finds a problem and makes a call, he will send someone to door-to-door service within “a certain hour” or inform the emergency treatment method of the fault. This kind of “response” first aid model can only show that the development of this industry is not mature enough, and it has stayed in the low-level struggle stage for a long time. In the early 1980s, in the early stage of the promotion and application of solar water heaters, Yunnan Province put forward the scientific concept of “three-part construction and seven-part management” of solar energy systems earlier, emphasizing the importance of after-sales routine maintenance and repair and maintenance of finished products. He believes that the safe operation of the water heater with high efficiency and long life is inseparable from the establishment of strict installation, operation and routine maintenance procedures.

With the increase in the popularity of solar energy utilization equipment, it is necessary to set up fixed-point after-sales service workstations in conjunction with residential property management in relatively concentrated residential areas, configure or hire full-time solar energy equipment regular insurance salesmen, and clarify their daily routines The area of ​​maintenance, the number of user equipment and the scope of maintenance, repair and other service content responsibilities. It should be clearly stipulated that the responsibility for exclusion and repair of solar energy accidents is no longer the user himself, but the regular insurance salesman dispatched by the solar energy manufacturer to the after-sales service workstation. “To correct the wrong must be over-corrected, but correcting is not enough to correct the wrong.” Without taking unconventional measures, it is difficult to fundamentally and completely solve the problem of insufficient after-sales service for nearly 100 million solar home users in China.

According to the authoritative statistics of the National Renewable Energy Center, in 2013, the social ownership of solar collectors in China has reached 310 million m2. Calculated on an average of 3.5 m2/unit, it is equivalent to more than 88.5 million household solar water heaters (sets). ; Among them, about 15% need to be replaced, which is equivalent to more than 13 million units; coupled with early damage or leakage failures, it is necessary to send people to the site for a return visit, or for immediate repair and maintenance, under normal conditions It accounts for about 13% of the total annual sales volume; adding up the two, there will be about 30 million sets of solar water heaters running with illnesses, and it is urgent to carry out on-site maintenance and treatment through the after-sales service link. Such a huge and scattered outdoor roof maintenance workload is theoretically shared on an average of about 3,000 existing solar water heater manufacturers in China, and each solar energy enterprise has an average of nearly 10,000 sets of after-sales repair and maintenance service workload. The number of enterprises in Yunnan accounts for about 10% of the national total. However, due to the early start and the high penetration rate of solar water heaters in Yunnan, the maintenance, maintenance and replacement tasks of after-sales service are more onerous than the national average.

In Yunnan, although the relevant government departments have clearly stipulated that all solar energy production enterprises must go to the relevant departments to apply for the qualification certificate of solar water heater installation and maintenance, in order to hold the certificate, participate in bidding activities or sell their own products. The purpose of implementing this management is said to be to strengthen the supervision of the production quality, installation quality and after-sales service of solar water heater products in the province. However, the implementation of this method for many years has achieved little practical results: the so-called product quality, installation quality and after-sales service problems that have existed for a long time in the Yunnan solar energy market are still “sound.” To a certain extent, not only did it not solve any problems, but it also caused a series of bad negative effects.

“Installation and maintenance qualifications”, as the name suggests, should only be awarded to construction and installation companies specializing in solar equipment installation or maintenance projects. But in fact, the license-issuing authority has locked the entire solar energy production enterprise as the object of declaration of installation and maintenance qualifications from the very beginning. Requirements for application materials: Solar energy enterprises applying for “Class 1 Solar Installation Qualification” must have at least 15 engineering, technical, production, and management personnel with professional titles; among them, professional installation and maintenance teams are required to have more than 40 people. (more than 20 people with “second-class qualifications”); more than 20 people must also obtain post qualification certificates (10 people with “second-class qualifications” will be employed with certificates). The annual actual production and sales of water heaters should reach more than 20,000 m2 (“class” more than 8,000 m2).

In addition, if a solar energy company wants to obtain the qualification for installing heat pump units at the same time, it must also declare at least level 3 or higher electromechanical qualification (that is, the lowest level heat pump installation qualification. There shall be no less than 30 engineering technical and economic management personnel: among them, 15 engineering and technical personnel, and no less than 5 project managers with intermediate titles or above: safety managers, quality managers, Information administrators, etc.; 30 management personnel; a “mechanical installation contract” of not less than 2.5 million yuan for production and installation must be completed within two years; the highest project settlement income within three years must reach more than 5 million yuan… and a series of rigid index.

In other words, if a solar energy manufacturer that mainly produces and sells household solar water heaters and wants to install small heat pump auxiliary energy devices for users to purchase and sell on behalf of customers at the same time, if it wants to obtain the “Class I Solar Installation Qualification” and “Class III Electromechanical (Heat Pump)” ) qualification”, according to the declaration requirements: the unit only undertakes the installation of solar water heaters and heat pump products, and at least 40 installation workers are required (more than 20 of them must obtain post qualification certificates); 15 engineering technicians with professional titles , production, operation and management personnel; plus 50 electromechanical installation teams with “three-level electromechanical qualifications” (among them, no less than 15 project managers with intermediate titles or above; no less than 5 project managers with intermediate titles or above: buy There are 30 management personnel such as safety officers, quality officers, information officers, etc., who have passed pension insurance and signed employment contracts). Only in order to meet the above-mentioned application requirements in the form of qualified, the application company must do everything possible to list a list of hundreds of engineering and technical personnel.

As we all know, under normal circumstances, any entity that produces solar energy equipment does not need you to put forward any rigid requirements for it. It must be at least 1:1; or even 1:1.5 or more. The minimum staff ratio, first of all, is fully equipped with product production. The skilled workers on the front line of manufacturing and the corresponding marketing team. Because every enterprise, whether it is a “big and complete” or a “small and complete” entity enterprise, the first task it needs to solve, or the task that entrepreneurs are most concerned about, is to match the production technology involved in the normal production line of the product. The labor productivity of workers and marketing backbones of market sales, which are closely related to the normal production, sales and operation of real enterprises.

Otherwise, the enterprise will not be able to maintain normal production and business activities. According to this logic, the total number of contract workers signed with the enterprise should be at least 200~250; otherwise, it will not be able to fulfill the output, output value and positions required by the government’s installation and maintenance qualification certification department expressly stipulated in the qualification declaration. Workforce commitment to several minimum indicator systems.

However, according to the incomplete statistical data obtained by “Yunnan Solar Energy Association” and “Yunnan Solar Energy Industry Alliance” since their establishment, or data collected through field investigation and implementation through various channels, valuable data materials show that: Among the more than 100 local solar thermal production entities in Yunnan Province, more than 97% of them can only be regarded as medium, small and micro enterprises: their total number of employees, or they actually have professional installation teams. The number of people, almost no one can meet the standard quota required by the relevant issuing qualification registration management agencies, black and white, and other relevant qualification declaration standards. In Yunnan, the enterprises that have obtained the first- and second-level qualifications have at least reached more than 80% of the total number of solar energy enterprises in the province. In addition, in the existing solar shared hot water systems, almost more than 90% of the systems, system engineering design The quality of the installation has different degrees of problems of one kind or another. Then there will inevitably be several questions: Who is it that falsifies and leads to a large-scale oversight of supervision? ! What kind of beneficial promotion has the qualifications that have been handled for many years actually played?

The so-called “qualification” refers to an open, fair, just, authoritative and professional qualification for the implementation ability that must be possessed and the implementation conditions required in the implementation process to engage in work in a certain professional and technical field. Recognition, including technical equipment, technical expertise and the actual ability and experience of technical personnel. From this point of view, qualification is a special practice license with strict professional specialization and classification, which belongs to the nature of professional franchise. Just as we cannot interpret a person with “one skill” as an “all-around champion”: we also cannot regard those with special qualifications for solar installation and maintenance as an honest enterprise equivalent to the production and manufacturing of high-quality, high-tech solar energy utilization equipment viewed and abused unchecked.

Solar installation and maintenance engineering qualifications should only be awarded to “installation companies” of the nature of “productive service industry” specializing in “system engineering installation” of solar energy. The main production tools and equipment that such producer service enterprises must be equipped with are: construction machinery and special equipment for transportation, lifting, climbing, hanging, hanging, etc.; For equipment installation operations, its employees are certified construction personnel who have obtained qualification certificates through professional training in high-rise building installation.

As for the actual production capacity of other solar energy utilization equipment, that is, the production equipment of related products, product quality, high or low output value and marketing volume, it seems that there is not much linear relationship with whether it has the ability to install and maintain engineering construction. In other words, solar installation and maintenance qualifications should not be awarded to those entities engaged in the production of solar photovoltaic-photothermal special equipment or parts, such as: water tank manufacturers; manufacturers of vacuum tubes or flat panels and their components: solar Batteries, control systems, light poles and tripods and other components are produced by companies or manufacturers that are not specialized in solar installation and maintenance projects.

It is a pity that due to the structural adjustment of Yunnan’s solar energy industry has not yet been carried out and the specialization of labor is still unclear, there is currently no industrial and commercial registration in the province as a solar engineering installation company specializing in solar photovoltaic or solar thermal system engineering design and equipment installation. Therefore, those who can justifiably apply for solar water heater installation and maintenance qualifications “have to wait for future generations”. As for general solar energy utilization equipment manufacturing enterprises or solar energy entity enterprises producing special parts, whether they have such qualifications or not can not explain any problems.

But it can be said for sure: at present, the vast majority of Yunnan has obtained various solar installation qualifications of this level; or enterprises authorized by electromechanical (heat pump) installation qualifications, from the installation of special technical equipment for engineering, to the configuration of professional technical backbones and management personnel; And in terms of the skill level of actually undertaking the design and installation, a considerable number of enterprises have not reached the due level and standards required by the building integration system engineering. Due to the theoretical requirements stipulated in the enterprise entity and the qualification book, there is a huge contrast. and gaps. Originally, special equipment and professional talent teams with certificates have been required for a long time. When they are far from being fully in place, these enterprises are required to undertake the tasks of maintenance and maintenance tracking services for several years after the sale. !”

Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the central government has repeatedly required leading cadres at all levels of the government to go deep into the grassroots, understand the people’s conditions, seek truth from facts, overcome bureaucracy, and oppose formalism in carrying out mass line education and practice activities; civil servants cannot be knowledgeable It is even less likely that they are expert talents who “know a lot about little-known things and know little about widely-known things”; therefore, in general industry management, it is necessary to Work; government business executives must have the courage to give up vested interests, and let the industry organizations manage those affairs, procedures and professional work that cannot be done by administrative orders, cannot be managed in an office, and cannot be managed well.

The government is the supervisor and enforcer of laws and disciplines, and it should stand in a higher macro position and assume the management responsibility of law enforcement and supervision; inspect and dispose of everything that goes against the national industrial development policy and harms the interests of consumers and the public. Otherwise the government will be remiss. The majority of enterprises and users should not overly believe in the authority of certificates that can be exchanged as long as they fill in the forms and pay according to the requirements of the issuing units. These sanctimonious certificates were originally drawn on paper and pasted on the wall, and were specially provided as totems for “good men and women” to worship.

I remember that in the 1990s, Premier Zhu Rongji severely criticized and resolutely opposed the administrative intervention by government agencies to give enterprises ratings, licenses and qualification certification, and to “guarantee” the products, technical capabilities and product quality of enterprises. He pointed out sharply that the quality, reputation and technical capabilities of an enterprise’s products are made by the enterprise’s own strength and hard work. Good and bad consumers have the most say. When they appear on the market, the masses or users have their own. public opinion. It is not necessary for the government to send a few civil servants who do not necessarily know everything to write “check-in” and “guarantee”.

Maybe consumers think that there is collusion between the government and the business, and there must be some shameful “feelings” in it. The government must be objective, open, fair, impartial, supervising, and investigating and punishing illegal acts of administrative law enforcement, to objectively examine the professional ethics of enterprises. It is a “disadvantage”, completely self-destructing its image, and seriously disrupts normal industry management, leading to the proliferation and proliferation of power-money transactions or corruption cases.

The lack or imperfection of solar after-sales service is not a new problem for a long time, and it is definitely not a “trivial matter” that can be managed or ignored. Because it involves the interests of the masses of thousands of households; it will inevitably have a significant impact on social stability and harmony! Let’s do a few calculations first: According to the actual survey data of a city’s water conservation office, the “drop-shaped water leakage” amounted to 3.6L in one hour, and 2.6 tons of linear water was dropped in a month. The hourly flow rate could reach 14L. Waste water resources of 12 tons per month; a few unscrupulous merchants of ordinary household water heaters use the superficial phenomenon of “high water temperature” to mislead consumers and cut corners to configure the system with a small water tank with a collector of less than or equal to 301/m2 per square meter, plus the system There is no temperature control method, and the water temperature of the water tank is too high when the sunshine is abundant. Only the steam water mass erupted intermittently from the air discharge pipe of the water tank, the daily water displacement can reach more than 5L.

For more than 700,000 urban households in the main urban area of ​​Kunming, the penetration rate of solar energy is about 40%; the normal service life of solar water heaters is generally about 10 years, and the failure rate of equipment installed for more than 3 to 5 years is 60% to 70%. ; That is to say, Kunming City has been out of warranty and disrepair for many years, there have been leaks and leaks, and solar water heaters are running with illnesses, at least 100,000 to 150,000 sets. Calculated on the basis of an average of 3 tons of water resources wasted every year by running drips and leaks, the annual loss of water resources is 300,000-450,000 tons.

Coupled with traditional domestic water heaters, since the pipes cannot be automatically delayed emptying, each time hot water is taken, it will cause a lot of waste of pipe heat dissipation and waste water. The capacity is 0.176L; the DN20 pipe is 0.314L per meter; the DN25 pipe is 0.49L per meter; the average length of the pipe entering the room on each floor is not less than 6m, even if the thinnest DN15 pipe is used, each solar pipe stores the residual heat Up to 1.056L; plus the solar energy from the roof to the outdoor part of the floor; take a household on the top floor closest to the roof as an example: the household uses a solar water heater, and at least 2L of the remaining heat dissipation water needs to be discarded every time the hot water is used; Only using hot water three times a day on average will waste 6L of heat-dissipating clean water resources, which is more than 2t a year.

If it is a solar-powered shared hot water system, due to the large diameter of the hot water output pipe, more water resources are wasted each time hot water is used; especially for users on low floors, 15L~20L pipes need to be discarded each time the valve is opened. The hot water comes only after the remaining water is dissipated. According to this, users of multi-storey buildings waste water resources every year on average. The total amount of lost water resources is conservatively estimated to reach more than 1.5 million tons.

In recent years, due to the massive emission of greenhouse gases and toxic and harmful substances, air pollution, environmental degradation, lack of water resources, and abnormal climate, Kunming has become a provincial-level tourist city with serious water shortage. Rectify illegal buildings on the roof, repair and maintain solar water heaters that are out of warranty and disrepair; no matter in terms of energy conservation and emission reduction, environmental protection, landscape rectification, water conservation, and development of green and clean energy: or to relieve the worries of millions of residents and users, It is necessary to take practical and practical steps to improve the construction of the after-sales service system of solar energy products, so as to improve the quality of life of the masses, safeguard the vital interests of solar energy users, and realize the stability and unity of the whole society and the long-term stability of the country.

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