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An expanded exhibit hall, additional learning sessions and increased attendance were among the highlights of Noria Corporation’s 14th annual Reliable Plant Conference and Exhibition held April 16-18 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. Nearly 1,400 industry experts, decision-makers and practitioners from around the world attended the international conference, which is the premier event for lubrication, oil analysis and reliability professionals.
Attendees were able to choose from more than 75 learning sessions on a variety of topics, including how to put new life in your oil analysis program, transforming lubrication procedures to best practices, case studies in contamination control at mine sites, using thermal imaging to diagnose machinery lubrication problems and common traits of winning maintenance reliability programs.
“The learning sessions have been great,” said Dave Davis of Dayton Superior. “I have really enjoyed them. I’m looking forward to getting back to my guys and teaching them what I have learned.”
The expansive exhibition hall was full to the brim with nearly 100 industry-leading organizations showcasing a broad range of products and services. Among the new products featured were Hy-Pro Filtration’s Liquid Conditioning Station (LCS), Lubrication Engineers’ Viper wire rope lubricator, Alemite’s lithium-ion battery-powered grease gun, FilterMag’s magnetic oil filtration systems and SKF’s Machine Condition Indicator.
“We took in the entire exhibit hall, and some of the products really peaked our interest,” noted Charles Maupin with Ring Container Technologies. “It is important to get that exposure to what else is out there. Companies are continually reinventing their product line, and so for us to stay on top of our industry, we need to pull in that new stuff.”
In keeping with the event’s vintage military theme, the conference opened with a moving keynote address from Guy Gruters, a retired F-100 fighter pilot who flew more than 400 combat missions in South and North Vietnam before being captured. Gruters spoke about the lessons learned during the more than five agonizing years he spent as a prisoner of war in a North Vietnamese Communist prison camp and on business and family experiences since.
“You have to develop plans to do something, and then you have to constantly manage those plans in the real world,” Gruters told attendees. “Plans change on a daily basis, and it’s never like it was planned out to be. It just doesn’t happen. So as a team, as leadership, you have to adjust to the real-world conditions because you have a constantly changing environment.”
Before the three-day event, specialized pre-conference workshops were offered on subjects ranging from the basics of lubricants to how to interpret oil analysis reports and set effective limits, and fundamentals for designing and procuring equipment to increase reliability.
“I attended Jim Fitch’s Manager’s Summit, and it was a good one,” said Aleris’ Wes Vandyne. “It was around four hours, but it really didn’t seem like it because he’s a good speaker.”
The International Council for Machinery Lubrication (ICML) and the Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals (SMRP) offered onsite testing during the conference for those looking to earn certifications, while evening receptions and an offsite cantina party gave attendees the opportunity to network with their peers in a more relaxed atmosphere.
The annual conference concluded with a drawing for the pulse-pounding show prize giveaway, a 2013 Iron 883™ Harley-Davidson motorcycle. All registered attendees who visited each of the 40 sponsoring exhibitors’ booths were eligible, but only one lucky name was drawn — Ray Gandenberger of the J.R. Simplot Company.
“It feels great,” Gandenberger remarked after his win. “I was really surprised because I’m usually not lucky enough to win anything. This is the first major thing that I have won. I have been wanting a motorcycle for a while. I used to ride quite a bit. We’ve got a lot of areas in Wyoming where we can ride.”
For Gandenberger, it proved to be quite a reversal of fortune from a year ago, as the mill mechanic suffered a heart attack during the 2012 Reliable Plant Conference and Exhibition in Indianapolis.
“It actually was a good thing I was there because they have some of the best doctors,” Gandenberger said of his trip to Indianapolis. “They put a stint in my heart, and I recovered in about a week.”
Discussions are underway to top the Harley-Davidson giveaway during next year’s show prize drawing.
Excitement is already building for next year’s Reliable Plant Conference and Exhibition, scheduled for April 22-24, 2014, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas. Early-bird opportunities to save $300 or more will be available beginning in December 2013, and group discounts and alumni savings are also available.
The annual Reliable Plant conference is the must-attend event for all industry professionals. For registration, speaker or exhibitor information, visit conference.reliableplant.com.