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Mission Critical: International Collaboration In Surface Finishing

October/September - 2009
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I’m pleased to say I have finally confirmed my travel arrangements for my next European tour of the Surface Finishing World. 

This year, about a month after Southern Metal Finishing I have the privilege of exhibiting at parts2clean in Stuttgart for our newest event PCX 2010 – the Process Cleaning Expo (more on that event in the next issue), followed by a conference in Paris on the replacement of hex chrome on light metals hosted by A3ST, and a finally a long over due trip across the channel to visit our Metal Finishing brothers in the UK for my first Surface World Show hosted by the Hill Media Group in Hertfordshire, UK.

The Surface World trip was a last minute addition to my agenda this year because of yet another wonderful contact made via my “Great Face Book Experiment”.   Last month I was introduced to Mr. Paul Wynn, Director of Public Relations for The Institute of Metal Finishing (IMF) via Face Book and we were able to meet for dinner one night while he was in Charlotte.
 
Immediately, I was intrigued by his official title “Director of Public Relations” - what an innovative concept!  Here at last is an organization that is paying attention to how the rest of the world perceives, and relates to Metal Finishing! 

During dinner that evening Mr. Wynn explained that according to a report published by NAMTEC in 2006, the UK market for surface engineering processes was £21.3bn ($35bn) and that these treatments critically affected £143bn ($234bn) manufactured products.  In my experience this type of data in the US is very difficult to find and quantify, so I found this pretty interesting.
 
He went into a little more detail and explained how the report accurately shows how the Metal Finishing Industry is the "underpinning" for, and as a critical "enabling technology", for most major industry sectors including aerospace, automotive, catering, construction, the off-shore industries, power generation and bio-medical applications.   It is from this position that Mr. Wynn and the IMF is actively garnering government recognition regarding the necessity of the next generation of metal finishing professionals.

The IMF mission statement is: "To provide a focus for Surface Engineering and Finishing activities worldwide through the fulfillment of the technical, educational and professional needs at all levels for both the individuals and companies involved in the coatings industry."  I like the use of the words “individuals” in their mission statement because as I see it the individuals in this industry are the real knowledge base, and therefore the underpinning of this enabling technology.  This mission is what has propelled IMF to step out onto the global scene with a straight forward message designed specially to relate metal finishing to the masses. It was explained to me that that along these lines, in 2008 the IMF took the bold move of expanding their international collaboration with Asia by creating a new branch in Hong Kong, and recently exhibited at SF China.

After reading the NAMTEC report myself, another detail that stood out for me was the statement that there is an urgent  “need for a global Surface Engineering Network to bring together current technical proficiency, and a knowledge database of independent industrial and academic experts”.  The report goes on to say that this type of network should be all inclusive and collaborate with all existing specialist centers, groups and networks, including training firms and databases, in an effort to make these accessible for the industry as a whole.  I for one - couldn’t agree more!

What an enlightening and rewarding experience it was to have the opportunity to meet Mr. Wynn.  I found him to be a genuinely nice guy, extremely intelligent, full of wit and very down to earth.  I look forward to seeing him again in Birmingham next month, and will report back to you with all that I learn in the next issue.
 

~PF