Although the numbers aren’t officially in yet, this year’s National Electrical Contractors Association Convention & Trade Show is expected to post the highest attendance of electrical professionals in 60 years. Held September 27-30 at McCormick Place West in Chicago, the event hosted more than 300 exhibitors (including 60 new companies) in 760 booths.
In addition to the exhibit hall, the conference drew industry experts from across the country and around the world, who presented on topics from business management, leadership and communications, project management, standards and safety and technology, process and innovation. Special events included a Women in NECA Roundtable, Safety Roundtable, Business Development Workshop, Green Energy Challenge Poster Competition, and Student Chapter Job Fair.
EC&M ’s Editor-in-Chief Mike Eby, on assignment at the show, attended several of the technical presentations and workshops. Following are highlights from a few of the sessions he found particularly enlightening.
Now that LEDs have become the dominant light source, and lighting controls have become commonplace in almost all applications, there’s always something new to talk about on the LED front. In “LEDs and Lighting Controls: The Second Tsunami,” speaker John W Curran, LED Transformations, LLC, examined the future of the lighting industry and explored how the new age of “personal lighting” will forever change how lighting is used. Despite their popularity, Curran explained that confusion continues to hit the LED market as development of lighting controls technology evolves at such a fast pace, making it more difficult for end-users to implement the technology. The session included a discussion on how occupants will be able to set personal preferences for their environment while the use of color and visual clues will allow the environment to communicate with building occupants in new and exciting ways. Curran also covered hot and cold markets. For example, office and industrial market sectors are lagging the residential, hospitality, and architectural markets in adoption of LEDs. "It's tough to beat a $1.00 fluorescent tube," said Curran.
In “Developing a Successful Strategy to Mitigate and Manage Risk on a Project,” Mark Federle, Ph.D., P.E., CPC, the McShane Chair in Construction Engineering and Management at Marquette University, shared best practices in operations management. In order to best manage risk, he explained how a business owner and/or project manager must be able to accurately identify risk, quantify the probability of risk occurrence, and take specific action to manage those risks. He also covered common risks, ways to analyze and control them, and steps to manage risk.
Tom Grace, of Eaton’s Electrical Sector Americas, spoke about “Suspect, Counterfeit and Fraudulent Electrical: Targeting Authenticity.” In this technical workshop, Grace explored the real-world implications that counterfeit electrical components have on the economy, jobs, health and safety. Discussing the prevalence and dangers of counterfeits, this panel-style presentation addressed the roles industry professionals should play to keep facilities safe from these dangers, including collaboration efforts and how to avoid and identify counterfeits.