IACDS Annual Convention 2017: “Best Meeting Ever!”

Published 10/7, 2017 at 14:37

The 2017 International Association of Concrete Drillers and Sawers Convention in Vienna turned out to a success. The pan international concrete cutting association achieved its goals last year and proved a valuable hub for the improvement of the international concrete cutting arena. PDi editor in chief Jan Hermansson reports.

On 18-20 May IACDS held its 2017 meeting in Vienna, Austria. This year was special as formerly the annual gathering has been called the Annual Meeting, but this year it was staged as a full convention.


A complete transformation since Amsterdam

Since the fateful meeting in Amsterdam some years ago following the Austrian association’s decision to leave IACDS the association has gone through a major transformation. IACDS has become a key asset for the international concrete sawing and drilling industry and is providing a valuable agenda for the industry. This is due to many factors including a strong and efficient board, a hard working secretariat under the lead of the president Julie White and José Blanco. During the meeting in Vienna the board’s work was applauded and re-elected for another turn.

The convention was held at the Hotel Hilton Vienna Place in the centre of the city. The first day of the convention started after lunch with the workshop ‘Marketing the expertise of the specialists. How to promote the specialized industry.’ Later in the afternoon a board meeting was held followed by evening cocktails sponsored by Tyrolit.


Convention day with showroom

The following day started with networking in the hotel’s conference area, which included a small exhibition with displays from Tyrolit, Diamond Products, Levanto and CreteBeater. This was followed by an opening address by ICADS president Julie White.

First conference session was held by Frank David, from the French drillers and sawers association, SNED who was addressing the risks to workers from exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The day continued with a speech from Martin Gödickemeier, from Hilti, about the IACDS Guidelines for anchoring of sawing and drilling equipment.

Michael Findeis, from the German drillers and sawers association, FBS spoke about new tools and technologies, new challenges and new business opportunities. He also demonstrated a new quick coupling system for core bits, which generated lively discussion during the following coffee break.

The second conference session opened with a speech from Philippe Wingeier, vice president of IACDS and delegate of Swiss drillers and sawers association, SVBS. Wingeier spoke about the IACDS Standard for tolerances on concrete sawing and drilling.

The day continued with a speech from Anders Andersson and Lars Sandström from the Swedish concrete sawing and drilling association titled ‘Beyond health and safety regulations.’ The presentation described the critical issues to protect workers and promote concrete sawing and drilling applications.

Prior to lunch IACDS general secretary José Blanco raised the issue of a ‘Professional Card’ for concrete sawing and drilling workers.


General Assembly

After lunch the day continued with the IACDS General Assembly were each association described the market situation in their home country. The UK’s Joel Vinsant said that the concrete cutting market was picking up after some tough years when quite a few firms went bankrupt. 

Lars Sandström from Sweden said that the concrete cutting business was booming in Sweden. He explained that there is a demand for over a million new apartments to be built over the next ten years. The Italian delegate told the assembly that the situation in the Italian market is still not good. The reason is mainly political and the country is lacking money for new projects. However, the general opinion is that the economy has reached bottom and is now slowly on the turn.

Michael Fideis from the German association said that the concrete cutting market in Germany is still very good and has been for the last five years. The association has around 700 members and most are busy and it looks like next year will remain the same.

The Dutch market is also booming as there is a lot going on in the construction industry. However, the Netherlands does not have a completely functioning association, as there are about 120 members in the association and around 200 concrete cutters.

IACDS vice president Norikazu Shibuya, also from Japan’s concrete sawing and drilling association said that the concrete cutting business is very good in Japan. The employment rate is very low in the country and is difficult to find skilled workers. From having been a country with very little labour from abroad, Japan has now started to employ people from neighbouring countries like China and Vietnam. Shibuya said that this was a serious issue that the Japanese government needs to solve. 

Many concrete structures in Japan need renovation and a new high-speed train across the country is also planned and will travel in some parts be 140m below sea level. This is a huge project that will provide a lot of work. Next year the IACDS Convention will be organised by the Japanese association and take place in Tokyo.

The Austrian market is also doing very well with plenty of work for the concrete cutting contractors. There is a lot of investment in the reconstruction and renovation field and last year was especially good and 2017 also looks promising.

Philippe Wingeier from Switzerland said that the first nuclear plant is to be demolished in 2019 and there is a lot of preparation work for this giant project. There are also many infrastructural projects going on and planning to start. There have been some large changes in the concrete cutting market, such as Nextag, which now is a part of Tyrolit, and Husqvarna has bought Demco Technik. The general trend is that both suppliers and contractors are becoming bigger and bigger through acquisitions. There is also a trend where general construction companies are starting their own divisions for concrete cutting services. But the growth of new concrete cutting firms is quite good and the association has gained a number of new members.

A delegate from the US concrete sawing and drilling association Pat O’Brien said that there is a sort of Trump effect and a business change in the US, which is positive. There is currently a good feeling within the US construction industry with rehabilitation all over the country bringing new projects. The member numbers in the association is now up around 500. Several of the members also offer floor grinding and polishing services, as well as ground penetrating radar in conjunction with traditional concrete cutting and light demolition services.

Also the French market is seeing some positive trends said the French delegate, Frank David. In particular there are many new project in the Paris area. The French association works has a joint association of concrete cutters, demolition contractors, and firms working with remediation and recycling.

A delegate from Australia’s concrete cutting association CSDAA said that the market situation is rather slow, but there are quite a number of infrastructure projects going on and the future looks rather bright for the industry. 

Anthony Keever, from Diamond Edge Cutting, said that Dubai is booming. “Business in Dubai right now is very good but also very challenging. To work there you really need to think outside the box, so to speak,” said Keever. There is a lot of renovation work going on involving hotels, shopping malls and infrastructure and in the next five years a number of new mega projects are scheduled to start up.

José Blanco from the Spanish association said that the Spanish construction industry has finally hit the bottom and is now slowly climbing upwards again. At present there is quite a lot of renovation going on. The recession has been hard on the professional concrete cutting industry and there are only a handful of professional companies left. 


Next Diamond Award at Bauma 2019

It was also decided at the meeting that the next IACDS Diamond Awards would be held in conjunction with Bauma 2019. Next year IACDS Convention will be held in Tokyo, Japan and hosted by the Japanese Concrete Sawing and Drilling Association. It was decided the convention in 2020 would be held in Milan, Italy. The participants at this year’s IACDS meeting were very satisfied with the outcome of the meeting, which was well planned. They were also satisfied with the results achieved in the association since the last meeting and at this year’s meeting. Donat Fritsch from Nestag and a former president of IACDS said that this was the best IACDS meeting he had attended and many of the participants expressed the same opinion.

The 2017 IACDS Convention ended with a dinner at the restaurant Vestibul in the centre of Vienna.


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