The 12th International Fluid Power Conference (12th IFK) will take place online as a virtual event
from October 12 to 14, 2020. The IFK team headed by Prof. Jürgen Weber is thus taking up the challenge of providing an attractive platform to meet the needs of participants of one of the most important international conferences in the fluid power industry.
Right before the initial event date in March, the IFK team around Prof. Jürgen Weber decided to postpone the 12th IFK to October 12 – 14, 2020. Initially, the idea was to hold an on-site event with flexible hygiene concepts. The contact to speakers and exhibitors was maintained in this difficult time to ensure a program with more than 100 international expert contributions and an accompanying trade exhibition.
Even though some corona-related restrictions have now been lifted, the situation in autumn in particular is unpredictable and a “second wave” seems possible at any time. The organization team therefore decided to actively involve the previous participants in the decision-making process by means of a survey. In this survey, 49 % of those questioned expressed concerns over a face-to-face event due to travel restrictions by authorities or companies and health risks. 75% of the respondents answered that they would consider attending an online meeting in principle. The organizers from the Chair of Fluid-Mechatronic Systems Engineering at the TU Dresden, together with the Fluid Power Association within the VDMA, took this as an opportunity to push for certainty about hosting the IFK and made the decision to hold the IFK as a digital event this year.
“Unfortunately, the hygiene concepts required for the original event venue would not have given us an appropriate environment.” says Prof. Weber. “Therefore, we decided on a digital concept that seems much more attractive under these conditions. All in all, the participation and discussion culture in virtual events surprised me positively this year, so that I am looking forward to the virtual IFK with anticipation.“
A web tool that transports the conference feeling into the participant’s office is used for the digital conference. In principle, the tool is structured like a real conference center and virtually reflects the typical conference day. At the beginning of the conference, participants check in and create an individual profile. Afterwards, they enter the foyer, which is the central hub of the conference and where moderators guide them through the program in live mode. Here you will find useful information such as the current program or the possibility to create your own individual conference calendar.
Furthermore, the individual conference rooms can be reached from here. Speakers give their lectures live via video stream, while the audience can exchange information via group chat. Afterwards, participants have the opportunity to ask the speakers questions in the Speaker’s Corner. It is also possible to switch to the digital exhibition from the foyer. Companies can freely design their digital exhibition stands here and decorate them with videos, presentations or brochures, for example. A chat window allows participants and exhibitors to contact each other directly or make an appointment for a video chat.
In general, personal exchange should not be neglected at the digital conference either. For example, there are group chat windows in the foyer, the conference rooms and the Speaker’s Corners, which allow interaction with a large community. On the other hand, there is the possibility of using private conference rooms for two or more discussion
As traditionally one of the most important meeting places in the field of fluid power, the IFK is a forum for users, manufacturers and researchers from all over the world. The organizers have to meet these standards for the transformation into a digital event and invite you to attend the conference, which is also accessible due to lower costs, and to help shape the drive systems of the future.