IPHA Annual Conference 2019 – Soenderborg
The 2019 Annual Conference of IPHA took place in Soenderborg, Denmark, from May 23 to 26.
IPHA, the International Prestressed Hollowcore Association, deserves its reputation as a centre of excellence for anyone involved in the industry and for designers of all disciplines.
Membership of IPHA is open to manufacturers of hollowcore and suppliers of equipment, principal materials, specialised software, and other relevant service providers. Current membership comprises 85 companies from 36 different countries around the globe.
The annual conference provides the perfect opportunity for members to get together in a friendly environment, where serious matters are discussed in a convivial atmosphere. They have the opportunity to meet informally and discuss their experiences and problems, whilst perhaps getting a different perspective from another part of the world.
The programme is designed to provide a theme relevant to the economic, commercial and technical conditions of the time. Keynote speakers with experience of the theme are invited to speak.
The conference in Soenderborg was the 24th annual conference in the history of the current formation of IPHA, although its origins go back 50 years.
The host company was Contiga Denmark, a full member of IPHA.
The theme of this year’s conference was:
‘THE ONLY WAY IS UP’
an appropriate title relating to the future, in which we must replace thoughts of recession with power, energy and vision, to embrace new conditions and thereby, harvest our rewards.
69 delegates and 22 partners arrived at the new ALSIK Hotel, Soenderborg on Thursday May 23 and met in the hotel restaurant for a welcome dinner in readiness for the start of proceedings on the following day. The delegates represented 37 member companies. They came from 20 different countries and provided a truly international flavour to the event.
The formal opening of the conference took place at the Contiga factory in Tinglev on Friday morning, with welcoming addresses given by Seamus McKeague, the IPHA President, and Karsten Rewitz, General Manager of Contiga Denmark.
Thereafter followed an interesting guided tour around the entire Contiga factory, during which delegates were shown the production of hollowcore, beams, columns, and wall panels, together with their impressive mesh-welding machine.
Karsten Rewitz, Contiga, IPHA Board Member (L) & Seamus McKeague, Creagh Concrete, IPHA President (R) during the factory tour at Contiga in Tinglev.
After a very nice lunch in the factory premises, three sponsors – Echo Precast Engineering, Precast Software Engineering and Sensohive – gave short company presentations.
This was followed by a speech from Simon Faber, ex-mayor in Flensburg, who told the audience about the history of the German – Danish borderland and historical conflicts between the two countries.
On the way back to the hotel, the party had a short stop at the Dybboel Exhibition Centre, where all saw a film about the war in 1864 between Denmark on the one side and Prussia/Austria on the other, after which part of Denmark was annexed.
Paul Tate, StruSoft (L) and Jordi Pujol, Prefabricats Pujol and President of IPHA’s Marketing Committee (R) try out some uniforms at the Dybboel Exhibition Centre.
On Friday evening, Contiga invited all the delegates and partners to an excellent dinner in the beautiful restaurant Fakkelgaarden, situated next to Flensburg Fjord.
The final day of the conference had a busy programme of presentations, beginning with ‘Cities of Tomorrow – The Evolution of a new Urban Culture’, given by Oona Strathern, Trend Consultant from Zukunftsinstitut in Austria. Oona talked at length about the changing nature of urban life, and the separation between visions of future cities and what people really need from their living spaces. She addressed issues around technology, ecology, isolation and shared spaces.
Then followed a presentation by Sabine Erspamer, MD of Echo Precast Engineering, and Karl Enderes, CTO of the Progress Group. They gave a very good presentation, discussing their vision for the requirements and priorities of future precast/hollowcore factories.
The next presentation was delivered by Per Thomas Dahl, a Director of Bonava A/S, Denmark, with a presentation titled ‘How to make Tomorrow’s Construction Sites Effective’. Per discussed his recent visit to the Silicon Valley, and the importance of software, integration and communication across the value chain.
This was followed by Kasper Guldager Jensen, Architect and owner of 3XN and GXN, Denmark. Kasper introduced the delegates to the ideas behind the Circular Economy in his presentation, ‘Building a Circular Future.’ He addressed the business case for changing the way we look at the built environment, and the benefits these changes could have for both humans, and the planet.
Following a lunch break, attendees were introduced to 3 new member companies. There were 2 new full members joining IPHA, with presentations from hollowcore producers Hansung PCC of South Korea, and Ramet Trom Ltd. of Israel. A new associate member came in the form of van der Blij, of the Netherlands, providers of lifting and handling solutions.
Websites were the topic for the next two presentations. Firstly, CPI’s Holger Karutz, with ‘Lessons Learnt’, discussing the impact a review of IPHA members’ sites at the Sales and Marketing Seminar in 2018 had on the business. The result – a new and improved CPI website, but not without some challenges along the way.
Secondly, IPHA’s new website was introduced to the members by Tom Goosey of TOG Marketing, UK, who developed the new site alongside the Marketing Committee. This included a guided tour of the site, emphasising its use as a resource and centre for knowledge on hollowcore, and as a tool to attract new members to the organisation.
Rounding up the presentations were the annual submissions for the Terry Treanor Award. This award is open to all members, to display the best or most innovative techniques in the production or application of hollowcore. Entrants this year were:
- Creagh Concrete Products (Northern Ireland) – CAD Academy
- Armasteel (Russia) – 10-Wire PC Strand
- Consolis Latvia – MicroTik Office Building
- StruSoft (Sweden) – IMPACT Production Software
The last point of the conference was the General Assembly 2019, at which the President of IPHA Seamus McKeague made the report from the Board of Directors and the financial result of 2018 together with the budget for 2020 were presented.
A special mention was reserved for board member, Ed McAleer, who sadly passed away just a few weeks before the conference.
Wim Jansze, President of IPHA’s Technical Committee, informed delegates about the upcoming 11th technical seminar in Warsaw, from October 31 – November 1, 2019. This will offer a practical training course for junior structural engineers, working through several practical project examples.
Jordi Pujol, President of the Marketing Committee, discussed the success of last year’s inaugural Sales & Marketing Seminar in Barcelona, showing a highlights video that was produced following the event.
Marco Pecetti, Karsten Rewitz and Pieter van der Zee were all elected for another 3-year term as Board Members of IPHA.
Alessio Rimoldi, of BIBM, was invited to give a presentation to the members regarding plans for next year’s annual conference. This will be held in co-operation with BIBM, the Federation of the European Precast Concrete industry, in Copenhagen during May 6 -8, 2020, and will give members of IPHA the chance to network and collaborate with the wider precast industry.
On Saturday evening, the IPHA dinner was held at Restaurant Knapp, situated in the beautiful surroundings of the old watermill in Stollig. During the dinner, the winners of the TT-Award were announced – this year jointly awarded to Creagh Concrete and Armasteel.
A fantastic evening was completed during a short speech by Seamus McKeague, who thanked all of those who attended, particularly delegates who had travelled a long way to be there, and of course, this year’s hosts, Contiga.
Wim Jansze, Consolis, President of IPHA’s Technical Committee (Centre), presents the annual Terry Treanor Award to Barry McCusker, Creagh Concrete (L) and Lev Zaretsky, Armasteel (R).