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Conference themes spark lively debate

04 January 2012

The MDS 2011 conference, which took place over two days last November, highlighted a desire among delegates for greater systems knowledge. Richard Burke was in attendance and gauged the reaction of delegates and presenters for DPA readers

It is seldom easy to introduce a ‘new’ conference to an industry; executives are already pushed to the limit in maintaining their company’s competitive position and there is invariably a lengthy schedule of more established trade shows and events to claim the attention and attendance of individuals.

When such a proposed conference involves bringing together a total of five different trade associations, each with their own agenda and responsibilities to their own membership, then the task begins to look even more difficult.

However, despite these perceived difficulties, the inaugural Motor Driven Systems (MDS) conference became a reality, and was successfully staged early in November last year.
The five national trade associations for pumps, compressed air, motors, drives, controls and the fan industry (BPMA, BCAS, BEAMA, GAMBICA, and FETA) had joined forces to launch a national debate examining the critical importance of systems engineering as it pertains to the achievement of energy efficiency.

Organised by Touchwave Media, MDS 2011 looked at existing and forthcoming legislation on energy efficiency; the degree to which standardisation might play its part; system strategies – which ones were in place and which ones could and should be in place; and technologies – what exists now and what is in the pipeline for tomorrow?

Approximately one hundred delegates from manufacturers, end users, research organisations and academia, as well as representatives from the UK government and the EU, attended the event.

A post-conference survey revealed a number of interesting conclusions from among those attending. For example, almost half of responding delegates (49%) attended in the hope of being made aware of, or being equipped to make others aware of, a product, technology or subject.

As Tony Breen, development engineer of Nuaire, commented, “The MDS conference was an excellent opportunity to learn about new technologies and legislation relating to the ventilation industry. The market research data, information on ISO50001 and general information provided on applications of motors and efficiency improvements was of real value.”

Indeed, the observation that delegates were there actively seeking information can be confirmed by the ‘Excellent’ ratings accorded to sessions such as BSI’s paper on ISO50001 – ‘The Dawn of International Energy Management Systems’ and IMS’s ‘Overview of Global Market for Higher Efficiency Motors’.

The stature and reputation of the companies and organisations involved with the conference was a key reason for many delegates attending, with 24% stating that the qualities of the supporting companies was the reason they attended, while 38% were attracted by the quality of the programme, topics or speakers. The remainder were swayed by recommendation from an industry contact.

“A great two days with interesting content within the presentations as well as a very good opportunity to network,” was how Andy Jones, general manager of Mattei Compressors, viewed the event.

Meanwhile, the length of the speakers’ sessions was viewed as just about right by 95% of the respondents.

“The event has been a formidable occasion for us to listen to policy makers, exchange with other industries and present our own products. The presentations were very professional and everything went smoothly – a very good experience,” said Florent Violain of Sterling Fluid Systems.

Delegates seemed, in particular, to appreciate the input of DEFRA spokesman, Mike Walker, who outlined the government’s position on motor driven efficiency, and that of the EU’s Wilhelmus De Wilt, who explained European Policy on Motor Driven systems.

Almost three-quarters (74%) felt that the conference had either met or exceeded their expectations and an impressive 88% have already stated their intention to attend next year’s event.

As Alex Chausovsky, research director, Motors & Mechanical Power Transmission at IMS Research, explained, “The Conference was a terrific opportunity to network with leaders and industrial energy efficiency champions. The presentations provided a wealth of information on improvements in motor efficiency, as well as those for pump, fan and compressor systems. I will definitely attend the conference again next year.”

Steve Schofield, deputy director of the British Pump Manufacturers’ Association (BPMA), and one of the driving forces behind the concept of the event, offered his perspective. “The MDS Conference proved successful in attracting distinguished national and international presenters and attendees. The variety of participants, which included professionals from manufacturing, marketing and academia, subsequently ensured the attendees left the 2011Conference with a clear understanding of the issues and opportunities surrounding this sector.”

Steve Brambley, of GAMBICA, pointed out that the inaugural Conference provides a vehicle for future development. “This was a great opportunity for the five related industries of motors, controls, pumps, fans and compressors to educate and inform on past, present and future issues in their fields. In addition to knowledge sharing at the event, it will serve as a platform for greater collaboration between the Associations, bringing added value to members.”

John Parsons, project director at the British Electrotechnical and Allied Manufacturers’ Association (BEAMA), added, “The Conference was both enjoyable and informative and it was very valuable to see all the different parts of the system brought together in one event. BEAMA is looking forward to developing an even better follow up event with the partner organisations.”

Networking opportunity
An important part of the MDS conference was the opportunity for delegates to get together in the networking lounge to discuss the issues and topics they had heard and to compare notes on existing and future legislation, product developments and industry initiatives.

As John Wilkins, marketing services manager of Rittal, observed, “We are delighted to have been involved with the inaugural MDS conference. The quality of the papers was excellent, which helped to fuel some very interesting discussions within the networking lounge.”

Conference organiser, Touchwave Media director, Andrew Castle summed up where he sees the development of this important industry issue. “On behalf of the five industry bodies, our task was to drive the debate on motor driven systems energy savings higher up the corporate agenda. From the feedback we have received, both during and following the event, the MDS conference has succeeded in bringing industry closer together to achieve that.

“However, the next stage will be seeking the involvement of more end users, machine builders and integrators, energy consultants and senior managers, financial directors and energy managers so that the commercial and financial arguments for investment in energy savings can be properly presented.”

Richard Burke is with Touchwave Media

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