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IPAF Summit Hits the Mark

In late March, I attended the International Powered Access Federation’s international summit for the first time. The one-day annual meeting rotates between major cities in different parts of the world, often in Europe. This year, the summit was held in Washington, D.C., only its second time in the United States, so I jumped at the chance to be there.
I'm glad I did. The event packed a lot of information into one day and two evenings. The summit itself was a day of educational presentations, but I also attended an optional reception IPAF held the evening before and went to an industry-awards gala that took place in the evening of summit day.
This event includes IPAF's annual general meeting, which takes place first thing in the morning. That's where the new president is elected for a two-year term and then introduced. This was an election year, and the new president of IPAF is Andy Studdert, CEO of NES Rentals.
Excellent educational sessions
The educational sessions covered some good topics, and all the speakers were enjoyable. A couple of the presenters were outstanding.
The topics included new developments in IPAF’s Smart PAL (Powered Access License) card, the impact that new legislation around the world will have on powered access design and use, how to avoid power line contact, what is needed for a great eLearning program, an update about OSHA's efforts to prevent falls from height, highlights from IPAF’s latest report on the powered access rental market, how to sell powered access equipment in developing economies, a case study about fighting equipment thieves, and the potential application of emerging technologies to the access industry.
Keynote speaker JLG President Frank Nerenhausen delivered a lively and thought-provoking presentation about how emerging technology such as smart-tech wearables, proximity-sensing systems, collision-avoidance systems, heads-up displays, robotics, virtual-reality training systems, and advanced simulators may be applied to improve safety in the AWP and lifting industries. Some of the technology, like proximity sensing and smart wearables, are already being used by the military and automakers, so its transfer to the aerial industry may not be far off.
Norty Turner, CEO of Riwal, a powered-access rental company that is headquartered in the Netherlands and currently serves customers in Europe, Brazil, the Middle East, and Central Asia, talked about how to approach opportunities in developing markets.
He cited the example of India's plan to to build nearly 12,500 miles of roadway, about 20% of it elevated, a huge opportunity for equipment sales and rentals. Turner articulately described how to succeed in a developing market—and noted that there will be many. He said that in the not too distant future, the developing E7 countries (China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Indonesia, and Turkey) will double the economic output of today’s leaders, the G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the United States). “They want the same things we have, and they’re going to get them,” he said.
In addition to the fascinating presentations, I enjoyed the chance to talk informally with the attendees both from the North American AWP industry, and also some from Europe and Australia.
Talking with some of the international attendees gave me a better understanding of the worldwide market’s perspective.
I don’t know whether I’ll have the chance to attend next year’s IPAF summit in Madrid, Spain, but the next time it comes to North America, I’ll be there.

Lift & Access is part of the Catalyst Communications Network publication family.