The World Demolition Summit may not be everyone’s idea of a fun day out. However, when it’s one of the leading events in the sector you cut your PR teeth on more than 10 years ago, it’s pretty exciting to have been invited as a guest.
The reason for the invitation – plus the added anticipation on the day – was the fact that Scriba’s client Richard Vann (managing director of RVA Group), was chosen as the keynote speaker for this year’s prestigious gathering.
It was therefore a pleasure to attend and support him as he addressed the 400 delegates who had gathered from all corners of the globe.
He spoke openly about the changing nature of the international demolition industry and the extent to which the ongoing retirement of aged assets now represents an unprecedented opportunity for demolition professionals.
He urged contractors to seize this opportunity but not lose sight of some key fundamental principles. Yes obstacles will be encountered, such as language barriers when multinational teams are tasked to work together, for instance. But these challenges are navigable, and with strong communication and a commitment to partnerships and knowledge transfer, there is no reason why projects cannot be delivered successfully, with maximum respect for environmental, health and safety excellence.
In fact safety formed a key part of his speech, with Richard reminding attendees that, whilst standards may vary in different parts of the world, “safety is safety, regardless of geography”. There can be no sliding scale of acceptable practice.
It was perhaps unsurprising for such a technical industry, that a deserved nod was also given to the level of innovation that is taking place within this engineering discipline, when it comes to both the techniques adopted and the equipment used.
Richard’s speech was certainly thought-provoking, and at times quite insistent on the need for greater action, but his address was incredibly well received and a pleasure to watch.
A packed conference programme also included sessions on emerging simulation technology, practical case study presentations and a seminar on the recovery and treatment of decontaminated soil, to name just a few. But a special mention has to be given to the extremely honest, brave and moving talk from James Howard of Coleman & Co, who shared some emotional insight and crisis management learnings from the Didcot power station tragedy. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the busy auditorium when he finished speaking.
Conferences don’t often pull such a crowd nowadays, especially from international locations – we all cram a growing number of responsibilities into our ever-busier weeks after all, so affording time out of the office for industry events isn’t always easy.
But the number of delegates at the World Demolition Summit was a testament to the founders’ efforts to organise such a high-profile agenda, as well as the industry’s commitment to progress. It is certainly a sector we love providing technical PR for, and after a couple of years away, we’re definitely glad to be back!