Thursday, 16 May 2013

Presidents Column May 2013

Dear Members


Firstly I must draw your attention to the change of dates for the Conference and Training days which are now the 30th and 31st of October due to a clash with the Aachen Conference.

In fact September is an extremely busy month for refractory conferences, UNITECR (Victoria, BC, Canada), September 10 to 13th, Refractory Colloquium (Aachen,

Germany), September 25th to 26th and I’ve just received information on the ECREF seminar which takes place between the 3rd and 5th of September (Hohr Grenzhausen, Germany).

So I hope and trust that if you’re not too exhausted from these conferences or indeed did not attend the above that you’ll join us in Sheffield in October.

We eagerly anticipate the National Dinner Dance to be held on the 11th of May and I extend my thanks to all those who have put so much effort into the planning and preparation.

An executive committee meeting was held on the 29th of April and whilst the minutes are not officially available I think it’s worth noting a few pertinent issues. We are and must accept that there is a global slowing of growth and this inevitably has an effect on the members of the Institute as refractory demand reduces.

We are therefore very grateful of membership and industry support for the Journal and I’m pleased to report that our prediction is that both the Journal and Institute Accounts will be positive at year end.

Over the last couple of years and specifically since the introduction of the SAGE accounting system, there has been greater transparency in regard to our financial position; we’ve absorbed some bad debt, made other provisions and removed “virtual” members, those with whom we’d lost contact, no subscriptions paid and frequent return of the Journal.

We hope that eventually an accurate demographic of the Institute will be possible and I know this is an objective for the Snr Vice President, Mr Keith Andrews, so that we can focus our efforts on a strong membership in the future.

A two year duration Presidency is appropriate for the Institute as from experience this is the minimum amount of time that is required to influence change. My personal focus has been the website and I will continue to expand the website content when I step down later in the year. Specifically I would like to see the forum section in full swing, however I’ve been advised that there’s often difficulty in overcoming initial inertia. An e-journal would also allow greater access to the membership, especially those who travel a lot. It is not the intention to substitute the printed Journal, this publication definitely has an impact that cannot be replicated in an electronic form.

Over the next couple of months I’ll work with our IT consultant, Ian and the Journal sub-committee to construct an e-Journal for review by the Executive and General Councils.

Another objective would be to have an electronic copy of every Journal issued on the website; this is a massive task, however the benefit would be an archive stretching back
over 40 years and possibly one of the richest sources of refractory information worldwide.

So there is plenty of work to be actioned and I hope that you’ll continue to enjoy membership and find it fulfilling. I am aware that we are an international Institute so whilst the Northern hemisphere heads for summer conditions the Southern is autumnal and therefore I would like to wish all members a successful business season.


Chris Windle