HERA launches new Future Forum series

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HERA chief executive Troy Coyle

The engineering industry is charging into the new decade with the Heavy Engineering Research Association (HERA) Future Forum 2020 series of events which will bring together some of the world’s prominent thought leaders and innovators in the sector.

In the series’ centrepiece — the 20/20 VISION conference on February 21 — HERA members will discuss the key issues facing engineering and metals.

These range from business innovation culture to HR innovation, and future technology affecting the industry, such as 3D printing of large-scale steel components and changing digital fabrication processes.

HERA chief executive Troy Coyle says the Future Forum has been designed as the hub of thought leadership and progressive discussion about how to move the New Zealand industry into a world-leading position.

“We are interested in examining and debating the conceptual and practical issues facing our industry, and working together to take advantage of opportunities and conquering the obstacles we face collectively,” Dr Coyle says.

“Chiefly, we are focused on sharing insights into what will affect our members in the next three years, and giving them an understanding of what they need to do to pivot or prepare, and what we as a whole industry need to do to future-proof ourselves.”

Among the 20/20 VISION conference’s five world-class speakers is award-winning global futurist and digital technology expert Chris Riddell, who has worked with the steel industry in Australia and is one of the most connected people in the industry.

Joining Mr Riddell will be Gijs van der Velden, who built a robotics start-up from the ground up into his second successful experience, now a leading and fast-growing innovation company called MX3D (Multiple aXis 3D printing).

Supported by partners like Autodesk, ABB, Lenovo, AMS Institute and ArcelorMittal, MX3D completed several experiments, art pieces and a bicycle.

The company also set out on an ambitious journey to 3D print a metal bridge over a canal in Amsterdam to show the large-scale potential of the technology.

Other speakers include Des Watkins, who embraced technological change within a traditional industry when he transformed Brisbane company Watkins Steel by introducing 3D laser scanning, automation and augmented reality technologies.

Also speaking is Alia Bojilova, an experienced industrial and organisational psychologist who worked at the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) before moving into the corporate sector.

Rounding out the speakers is Mike Hutcheson, a business, media and marketing communications guru who also has building industry experience, and serves as an adjunct professor of innovation at AUT.