More than 80 participants attended ASERCOM’s annual meeting in Brussels on 13th January, to talk, network and exchange ideas.
Along with the traditional lectures from association experts, ASERCOM used the event to hold its first open forum on topics including EU regulations, energy efficiency and further education.
This year’s convention was again dominated by the current challenges faced by the refrigeration and air conditioning industry. Claude Blanc, president of the association, said: 'We are still seeing the need to educate our sector about new regulations and directives. It is our responsibility to make sure that everyone working in the refrigeration and air conditioning industry knows the standards they have to meet. In order to do this, we are going to publish new guidelines and statements this year, and expand our cooperation with other international associations.”
Moderated by Marco Masini, coo of the Italian group Assofrigoristi, notable representatives from industry and politics discussed EU regulations and rules, energy efficiency, and the importance of advanced development in the refrigeration and air conditioning industry.
Didier Coulomb, director of the International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR), said: 'The European Union is a global vanguard. The rest of the world looks to us for guidance. The challenges that we currently face represent what is in store for everyone else.”
In spite of their position as vanguard, however, the EU is not immune to criticism. “The EU sometimes tends toward overregulation. We have to look at the big picture, like the construction sector, and not dwell on details, like small individual parts of heat pumps,” said Thomas Nowak, general secretary of the European Heat Pump Association.
As a policy officer for the European Commission, Davide Polverini represented the legislative branch and asked audience and fellow panellists for the understanding that the ecodesign legislation, like any complex structure, must be built brick by brick, regulation by regulation in order to be as robust as possible, without being considered as too intrusive by industry and consumers.
Wolfgang Zaremski, president of the VDKF, appealed to the need to promote the exchange of information within the industry and with the customer. “Our installers welcome the EU regulations. But we need time to communicate the significance of the changes.”
Rainer Grosse-Kracht, cto at Bitzer and member of the ASERCOM board, agreed. “The industry needs advanced professional education and clarification at all levels.”
Stephen Yurek, ceo of AHRI, complained about lack of foresight within the industry, in light of current developments in global politics. “As associations, it is too often in our nature to look inwards. In doing so, we must be careful not to lose sight of the bigger picture. We need to remember that all of these rules and regulations have an economic impact on our customers. Brexit and the results of the US elections have effectively demonstrated what happens when we ignore the voices and concerns of the people.”
The panel discussion was followed by eight presentations from the members. In honour of the 25th anniversary, Hermann Renz, senior delegate at ASERCOM, took visitors back in time to the year the firm was established looked at all the association’s most important milestones, such as the introductions of the certification committees for compressors and condensing units. The latter was elaborated on by
Julian Pfaffl, convener of the certification committee, in his contribution. Within the last year, the number of certified products has risen by over 100, reaching a total of 787.
Regis Leportier, chairman of the Steering Committee, provided a forecast for ASERCOM’s upcoming recommendation on the future selection of refrigerants, to be released in the middle of the year.
Dr Christian Ellwein gave an update from the association’s newest working group. The Internet of Things task force has been working since last year on the important matter of digitalisation in the refrigeration industry. The group is considering the opportunities, as well as the risks, of the digital future.
Other presentations were made by Dina Köpke (a summary of the European Commission’s winter package and other relevant legislation), John Gibson (a forecast of the coming ASERCOM guidelines, including the use of flammable refrigerants with frequency converters), Wolfgang Zaremski (a summary of ASERCOM’s efforts in surveying the market) and Heinz Jürgensen (an update from the Working Group standards).
A ceremonial dinner was held on the eve of the event and one of the highlights was the presentation of the golden ASERCOM award, which recognises members and partners who have excelled in the past year with their contributions.
The four recipients this year were Dina Köpke, ASERCOM Working Groups delegate, Christian Desjardins, ASERCOM senior delegate, Wolfgang Zaremski, convener of the market surveillance Working Group and Stephen Yurek, president and ceo of the AHRI partner association.
All presentations given at the 2017 annual general meeting are available for download on ASERCOM's website at www.asercom.org/annual-convention-2017.
Pictured above: Over 80 guests attended the annual general meeting this year.