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Three leading industry representatives talk about their expectations of the E&E Congress, which for the first time is being held digitally this year.
This year's E&E Congress is not only special because it is being held digitally; it is also 25 years since the very first conference was organised in Strasbourg. And then, just like now, representatives of the bitumen and asphalt industry met to study the latest developments in areas such as asphalt production, pavement technology, safety and maintenance. In view of the fact that bitumen/ asphalt is one of the most sustainable construction materials, sustainability will also be a key area, with opportunities to share experiences of and current research into recycling, circularity, life cycle assessments and carbon footprint.
In December 2020, the EU Commission presented a strategy describing how the transport sector is to be transformed to meet the visions set out in “The European Green Deal”, focusing on areas such as digitalisation, automation and connectivity. The main theme of the conference – “Asphalt 4.0 for future mobility” – reflects this social and environmental revolution by highlighting the importance of future mobility scenarios for road infrastructure and how the digitalisation of our industry is expected to increase.
The high level of interest in this year’s conference is illustrated by the record-breaking number of scientific articles that have been accepted. This also shows the importance of maintaining events of this kind and how important research and development is for road infrastructure. All participating authors will be given an opportunity to present their work during the popular poster session.
One exciting new feature this year is the workshop aimed at the “leaders of the future”. This will provide young participants with the chance to share opinions with both potential and senior managers, while at the same time it will increase the understanding of how the leaders of tomorrow feel about the pavement industry and its role in society. E&E Congress 2021 is the most innovative and exciting virtual experience for anyone working, directly or indirectly, with bitumen and asphalt. It also makes an important contribution to meet society’s need for a robust, safe and smart road infrastructure.
Frédérique Cointe, President Eurobitume
The construction industry is developing and boosting its competitiveness in line with changes in the rules of play and external factors. This need for innovation derives partly from new political policies, primarily increased demands for sustainable development, and partly from the introduction of new technology. Against this background, the E&E Congress offers a unique platform for sharing knowledge and expertise, raising awareness of future challenges and building networks with the most important stakeholders, not just from the world of business, but also in research and road authorities.
Digital developments are also raising the road pavement industry to a completely new level. Smart, autonomous systems, machine learning, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) are all examples of technologies that can drive the industry’s efficiency, reliability and sustainability. This development – “Asphalt 4.0” – includes the use of digital tools to automate, monitor and improve conventional business activities such as operating asphalt plants, manufacturing bituminous binders and mixtures, transport and installation. But it’s also about facilitating the transition to electric and self-driving vehicles. A whole new world of opportunities and challenges is opening up!
This year's E&E Congress will feature the presentation of more than 280 technical articles that have passed through a double peer review procedure. This guarantees that all participants will be acquiring new insights into developments in the areas of digitalisation, sustainability and health & safety, and of course also asphalt and bitumen production, performance and road maintenance. There will also be scope to keep expanding your professional network, not least via the exhibition area, which will be open all day, from one hour before the first presentations begin until half an hour after the last ones have ended. And, perhaps most importantly of all – the virtual format means we can participate totally Covid-free from our homes!
Dr Breixo Gómez Meijide, Technical Director European Asphalt Pavement Association (EAPA)
It's extremely pleasing that despite the ongoing pandemic, we can meet digitally to hold what is clearly the industry’s most important meeting. Apart from the opportunity to study the latest trends, E&E is an excellent forum for discussing current and future challenges. For a supplier like Nynas, it also represents a chance to talk about our products and research initiatives. Our employees will be taking part both with oral presentations and during the poster session. Many of these scientific projects are about sustainable and climate-smart asphalt solutions, including a lower manufacturing temperature, durability and recycling.
Personally, I’m looking forward to meeting customers and introducing our new team on the continent, Nynas Bitumen Western Europe. It’s a close-knit team that will use its competence and work hand-in-hand with colleagues in the rest of Nynas to position us as a strong, reliable partner. After a challenging 2020, we now have an opportunity to put a full focus on the future.
This year's E&E is an invaluable meeting place, providing an opportunity to interact with customers and find out their ideas and desires, in order to clarify what they expect, now and in the future. In a nutshell, to encourage innovation and the use of best practice.
Carsten Meyer, Sales Manager Nynas Bitumen Western Europe