More than 140 delegates joined the first Future of Furnaces event on 14th – 15th September, which was aimed at uniting the glass, aluminium and steel sectors to discuss developments in furnace technology.

Held in association with Furnaces International, the two-day Future of Furnaces event got off to a brilliant start with speakers from across the globe attending discussions on the hopeful future of furnaces and industry 4.0 developments. The event marked the first of many, which will follow.

Opening the event was Fabrice Rivet, Environment, Health and Safety Director, FEVE who spoke on ‘Securing our Industry’s Future: Towards Climate-Neutral Container Glass’. The keynote speaker spoke of the glass industries goal towards carbon neutrality, focusing on the importance of electricity as a replacement to fossil fuels.

A focus on the importance of Industry 4.O changes was emphasised throughout the event, starting with Rene Meuleman, Director of Business Development, CelSian, who gave a presentation on ‘Tools that Reduce Energy Demanded by Furnaces While Keeping Quality and Furnace Lifetime in Tact’. His final message concluded the key message of the presentation,

“Data is very important… it is key for the development of industries”

Rene Meuleman, Director of Business Development, CelSian

This message was reiterated by Mark Allen, Sales Director, Mechatherm. The company conducted a study, which researched the possibility of ‘furnaces being intelligent enough to improve its own performance’ using data to produce AI software. The company collected

“Millions of records (so that the software could) slowly predict what the furnace will do … the system will purely learn from the furnaces behaviour, how to adapt tits performance”

Mark Allen, Sales Director, Mechatherm

As well as AI intelligence and data collection, re-evaluating the format of the furnace was also a theme touched upon. David D’Aoust, Sales Manager – Drosrite™, PyroGenesis Canada Inc, introduced the audience to plasma furnaces, whilst Stuart Hakes, Chief Executive, F.I.C. (UK) Limited and Dirk Schnurpfeil , Research and Development, Nikolaus Sorg GmBh & Co. KG evaluated the benefits and realistic goals of a Hybrid horizontal furnace.

The event returned for its second day, which was in collaboration with the British Industrial Furnace Constructors Association (BIFCA). The event hosted The Standards Seminar, which was adapted following the current climate of COVID-19.

Day two started off with an introduction from the BFICA chairman Arthur Watson, who kindly thanked Quartz Business Media for providing a platform for industry leaders and companies to hold a discussion that would otherwise have been held in person.

The event proceeded with its first presentation, which was held by Danny Brennan the Director, DB Gas Associates,who delved into the key discussion of safety regulations. Mr Brennan highlighted the importance of understanding the documents businesses and workers worked against, concluding that with an understanding the industry can be better in its performance.

The regulations of the CE mark and its replacement UKCA mark were then discussed further in depth by Adrian Goodbrand, Director of Sales, Vacuum Furnace Engineering Ltd and Mark Lindsay Director, Product Approvals UK.

Once again, Industry 4.0 made its appearance at the event as Rene Branders, president of CECOF, noted that the safety regulations that are written and kept up to date often are

driven by the most up-to-date features and technology (Industry 4.0).

Following on from the potential changes to the technology, a reality check was put in place. Human mistake was not overlooked in the presentations as Richard Heath, Health, Safety and Environment Specialist, the Cast Metals Federation, delivered a presentation bringing the audience back to mortality.

“I am taking on a different area, one where there is plenty of legislation and plenty of product standards, but one where there are lots of gaps. Some of these gaps are often people based and relate to how workers interact with plans and processes. But also how management interacts with their workers who operate the furnaces.”

Richard Heath, Health, Safety and Environment Specialist, the Cast Metals Federation

The overall message of the event was the emphasis on the community of the manufacturing industry. As concluded by Mr Branders,

“We are together sharing the challenges… together we are stronger, together we are richer with ideas…”

Rene Branders, President of CECOF

For registered delegates, the platform provides access to all presentations and speeches on demand. The event platform also provides networking contacts with industry specialists and additional resources to widen your understanding of the future of furnaces. If you were unable to attend both days of the event, as a delegate you will have access to the whole platform for 30 days!