The virtual E&E Congress 2021 was successfully delivered
Close to 800 bitumen and asphalt professionals from five continents and 48 different countries attended the 7th E&E Congress, an innovative and highly interactive online event which provided excellent learning and networking opportunities for delegates, exhibitors, speakers and sponsors.
Themed ‘Asphalt 4.0 for future mobility’, the virtual congress took place between 15 and 17 June 2021 and included 21 engaging technical, commercial and special sessions presented in two auditoria, delivered by 118 outstanding speakers. A big added value for all participants was that through the virtual platform they could access all the congress content at any time up until 15 September, three months after the congress opened. This was particularly popular with particpants who either wanted to attend two sessions that were running at the same time, were unable to attend a session when it was being delivered or did not have an opportunity to visit a stand during the congress.
The congress was opened by Frédérique Cointe, the immediate past-President of Eurobitume – which jointly organised this event with EAPA, the European Asphalt Pavement Association. Current Eurobitume President, Frank-Michael Biel, then went on to emphasise the challenging times which everyone is experiencing and how they have provided a platform for the bitumen and asphalt industries to show their adaptability and innovation. He added that an excellent example was how the congress was transformed into a virtual format, which retained many of the benefits of a traditional physical congress as well as offering many new positive elements.
During the Congress, the very well-attended technical and commercial sessions attracted over 500 online participants at their peak. The ability to select specific presentations to view between the parallel sessions provided more flexibility than previous congresses.
The new session ‘Future leaders’, which enabled future and current industry leaders to exchange thoughts and experiences was extremely appreciated by all the participants. The Communications Workshop was also well appreciated - offering a different dynamic to the overall programme content. Both of these sessions were highly interactive and well-attended.
Embracing a new concept of virtual booths, exhibitors experienced more than 34,000 visits across the 37 booths during the three days of the congress.
The joint Eurobitume-Asphalt Institute(AI) stand attracted significant interest, with an above-average number of visits, document openings and document briefcase additions. Visitors to the stand were able to access an Introduction to Eurobitume video, a Bitumen and Sustainability information sheet and the Eurobitume Annual Reviews for 2020, which outlines the activities of the various committees. A number of AI documents were also available and there was an option to chat with representatives from Eurobitume and AI.
François Chaignon, past president of EAPA and current President of SFERB at Routes de France, commented: “The virtual platform worked very well, we had the keynote speakers of the conference in the opening session, technical presentations in two parallel rooms, live sessions with the communication workshop and insights from a panel of future leaders for the first time, commercial sessions and the e-posters hall as well as a networking area. Almost all of these were delivered in the highest possible quality and the figures speak for themselves”.
Juan José Potti, current President of EAPA and ASEFMA stated: “During the Congress I especially liked the very high level of technical content in the technical sessions. Daily sessions were informative and dynamic, thanks to all the interactions in the chats and social media. I also appreciated the results from the live and technical sessions related to Asphalt 4.0, with more than 15 communications presented related to this theme. I sincerely believe that we are taking a great step forward for the sector. From my point of view, it is urgent and very necessary that the digital transformation will be a reality in our activities.”
To help improve future E&E congresses, important feedback from this congress was gathered through surveys conducted among Participants, Exhibitors and Sponsors.
Key highlights from the participants survey
- Quality of speakers/panellists in the Opening session and Technical sessions was perceived as very good or excellent by majority, especially the technical sessions.
- High rating for the quality of scientific and educational content
- The accessibility of the Congress through the platform and user-friendly navigation was very high, and in most cases excellent!
- However, the ability for networking was seen as slightly weaker. Most participants felt it was good or at least adequate, but not excellent – this reflection was also highlighted in general feedback.
Key highlights from the exhibitors/sponsors survey
- The quality of scientific and educational content was rated as high, very high or excellent by 95%
- 80% rated the virtual congress experience as fully or partly meeting their expectations.
- Exhibitors acknowledged the excellent preparation and support they received in developing content for the virtual platform and the effectiveness of the platform used for the exhibition.
- Networking was rated not as good as compared to physical exhibitions, with only 40% feeling it was adequate or better.
The cutting-edge research in the e-poster area was very popular, with 198 technical posters grouped under 10 broad headings:
- Asphalt mixture performance and testing
- Asphalt production, paving and compaction techniques
- Binder performance and testing
- Bituminous emulsions
- Case studies and non-highway applications: Success and failure from real practice
- Future roads and mobility
- Health and safety
- Maintenance and rehabilitation
- Sustainability and environment
- Warm mix asphalt / Low temperature asphalt
Among these posters were four created by Eurobitume Task Forces:
- Task Force (TF) Specifications developed an interesting poster to explain its work relating to the revision of EN 14023 (polymer modified bitumen standard), regarding the introduction of rheology testing to assess product performance.
- TF Test Methods’ poster set out the work Eurobitume is undertaking with regard to test methods, including conventional and rheological assessment methods and conditioning procedures.
- The poster produced by TF Data Collection explained the extensive second Data Collection Project, which draws upon paving grade, hard paving grade and polymer modified bitumen data sets (provided by Eurobitume members) and addresses test methods and results based upon the latest proposals for future European specifications.
- TF Secondary Materials created a poster which not only summarised bitumen’s environmental credentials and important role in Circularity, as a sustainable construction product; but also set out some thoughts to consider regarding the potential use of secondary materials with bitumen.
Future E&E activities
The next activity to be organised by EAPA and Eurobitume will be the E&E Event, first held in Berlin 2018 and expected to take place in Vienna in late 2022 – more details will be confirmed in the coming months.
The ambition is to get back on track with the original timeline for the next E&E Congress, to be held in June 2024 in Budapest.