Rod Smith, the mind behind industry-leading magazine Compressed Air Best Practices, lets us in on some of his goals for the magazine’s first-ever expo.
The inaugural Best Practices EXPO and Conference will be held in Chicago from September 17 to September 19, providing manufacturers and energy managers with an opportunity to share their expertise on air compressor, blower, vacuum, and cooling systems optimization.
The conference was largely orchestrated by Rod Smith, the creator and publisher of one of the compressed air industry’s most respected publications, Compressed Air Best Practices, in partnership with the Compressed Air and Gas Institute and Con Edison’s Commercial Energy Efficiency Program. We recently sat down with Smith to discuss his vision for the event.
Why did you feel the need to create this event?
At Best Practices, we're committed to educating customers about energy-saving strategies for their utility systems. This conference gives us an opportunity to do just that on an even greater scale. At the show, industry pros and end users will have a chance to meet and share their ideas on systems optimization. It also gives us the chance to reach out to peers in Chicago and elsewhere and engage with factories that might not know about this technology.
The conference spans four tracks that are covered by our magazines: compressed air, blower, vacuum, and cooling systems. We want to center the conversation around energy intensity, water consumption, and cost with the hope that increased energy savings can improve factory profits across the board.
Why combine all four tracks into one event?
A major point we’re trying to make is that utilities are not independent, but interdependent. We want to encourage end users to consider how they can benefit from analyzing the efficiency of their other systems.
Auditing is a great example. The compressed air industry has led the way on auditing energy efficiency, but vacuum and chiller systems don’t have the same structure in place. End users could benefit from that sort of rigor in their vacuum, blower, and cooler systems as well. Incorporating all four tracks into one conference gives energy managers exposure to efficiency protocols for those other systems, where things aren’t as well-established.
On the distributor side, we’re encouraging vendors to look into other products and services. For example, a compressor distributor may learn that he or she can benefit from selling cooling equipment. But distributors have a role in education, as well. If they’re well-versed in other systems, they can offer factory audits for those systems as well. These audits are mutually beneficial too; end users feel they’re learning from an expert they can trust, while distributors develop the goodwill that might result in more part or equipment sales down the line.
The point is that we can all learn from these practices and apply them across utility systems, so we want to encourage collaboration between manufacturers, distributors, and end-users. One audit – or “treasure hunt,” as I like to call them – can result in thousands of dollars in energy savings a year for one factory. We want that kind of success to be widespread.
What are some highlights of the expo?
All of our speakers represent the cutting edge of a new movement in optimizing utilities. Brett Rasmussen, a senior energy engineer for Nissan in North America, will be talking about water systems optimization, while Leslie Marshall from General Mills will tell us how the company cut cooling water costs across 25 plants.
Shaw Industries is sending an expert to discuss the value of reliability and efficiency in compressed air systems — which is important, because if your system goes down, you can lose a year's worth of energy savings in less than an hour. Energy Star will also be at the expo with their industrial partnership group to teach attendees how to start an energy management program.
How has the industry responded to news of the expo?
The compressed air industry has been wonderfully responsive. We already have close to 70 booths on the trade show floor and two-and-a-half full days of educational content set up.
So many people have been generous with their time and knowledge as well. What’s great is that all of our speakers are coming to learn from each other and share their expertise. They don't view these practices as trade secrets. I think their willingness to share is a really noble thing. The whole expo is based on the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge.