Mechanical contractors conference to focus on innovation education
“The purpose is to create some awareness about the trends taking place in the industry at home and abroad so that we can, as an association, help the industry respond proactively to meet the challenges of tomorrow. As it relates to innovation, as far as I’m concerned, tomorrow is today, the future is now,” said Pierre Boucher, chief executive officer of MCAC.
“That’s really a mandate that we are giving ourselves at MCAC. There is so much disruption going on now, we have to stay abreast of that, communicate and help whenever we can through education or otherwise. A conference like this helps people understand what is coming and how we can best tackle those things happening in the industry.”
The theme of the conference is The Innovation Mindset: Converting Opportunities into Realities. It will be held April 15 and 16 at the Beanfield Centre in Toronto and will explore how innovation and technology is shaping the mechanical contracting industry.
The first night of the conference features a networking reception. The following day is a full day of general sessions geared around topics facing the industry, followed by exhibits where innovation will be showcased and a closing networking reception.
“We will have exhibitors onsite and those exhibitors have to have new innovative solutions in the market or just about to be put in the market,” Boucher said. “There will also be full sessions with speakers talking about those technologies and software that are being disruptive in the industry, how quick they are being integrated, or not, and what the challenges are.”
New innovation and technology are emerging in the Canadian construction industry all the time and this is an opportunity to discuss the potential impacts with members and other stakeholders, Boucher pointed out. Topics include the future of artificial intelligence, the digital transformation of the industry, energy efficiency and modular construction, and Building Information Modeling (BIM).
“What we want to do is have some further awareness and discussion about where things are going, what does that mean in terms of competitiveness in Canada with the globalization of the markets and how best can we go out there and compete,” said Boucher. “We have some great companies that have the ability to build fantastic infrastructure and buildings but we can’t do it without the adoption of technology and innovation.”
The conference program opens with a presentation on the current industry landscape, as well as findings from the World Economic Forum’s Shaping the Future of Construction Initiative. The presentation will describe how the document is shaping the dialogue around innovation and technology in construction and what the implications are for mechanical contractors.
“To me it was a wake up call when I first read that report and it basically guides the industry in areas we need to focus,” said Boucher.
“One of the areas has to do with people and how you train them. If we want to attract the next generation we better start converting, as much as possible, classrooms into labs because they want to see the new technologies, they want to have a feel for it and they want to take part in maximizing those tools as they enter the industry.
“Demographics is going to make it hard for people to hire all the people needed so we will have to compete. We need to modernize the industry, modernize the schooling system, provide labs and tools.”
The program features a variety of speakers including Corey Diamond, executive director, Efficiency Canada, who will host a session entitled Energy Efficiency — What the Future Holds.
Troy Galvin, manager, PCL Agile; Brent Mauti, global director, design technology, IBI Group; and Branden Kotyk, regional manager, British Columbia, Victaulic will take part in the discussion Modular Construction and BIM — What They Mean for the Industry.
A session on Artificial Intelligence and the Construction Industry will be hosted by Peter Van Beek, professor at the University of Waterloo. Rob McKinney, business development at Rhumbix, will host a session entitled Did You Know These Technologies Are Available to You? Other speakers will be announced in the coming weeks.
“Innovation is really about technology, materials and tools,” said Boucher. “It also focuses on processes, procedures, operations because you have to think outside the box…what tools and procedures can you implement to make sure that we have much greater level of collaboration. We also want to talk about regulations and policies.”