IIAR Annual Conference to Provide Technical Knowledge, Industry Insight to Members

The International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration 2016 annual conference in Orlando, Florida, will provide three days of technical knowledge, networking and industry-sponsored events for those involved in the ammonia refrigeration industry

The program begins on Sunday, and this year’s Sunday Educational Program will focus on the IIAR-2 standard. The four-hour session will provide an opportunity for people to get insight on the standard and how it will affect plant design and operations, said Mark Stencel, IIAR chairelect and director of strategic accounts at Bassett Mechanical.

“It will create an understanding of the changes that have taken place and how IIAR-2 has been expanded,” Stencel said, adding that the speakers presenting during the session include a mix of end users, manufacturers, process safety experts and designbuild contractors.

Dave Rule, president of IIAR, said, “The intent is to provide the members with an overview of the major issues addressed in the rewrite of the standard, which was a three-and-ahalf-year process.”

IIAR-2 is going to have a major impact on the industry because it is a fully revised safety design standard for how systems are constructed and it will affect the development of the RAGAGEP standard that’s also under development. “The membership is aware they need to understand this new standard,” Rule said.

The session will also provide a detailed review of the specific sections of the document, the high points operators should be aware of, the major issues IIAR addressed and the factors behind the decisions the association made, Rule said.

Eric Smith, technical director at IIAR, said the conference will include a full array of committee meetings, which are where a lot of the association’s in-depth work gets done. Committee meetings are open to committee members as well as those who would like to sit in as visitors.

Rule said attending the meetings allows members to see what kind of topics are being addressed and the important issues that are going on in the industry.

The conference will feature international committee meetings that bring people together from all parts of the world. There will also be a separate meeting focused on South and Central America to discuss issues from their regions. Delegations from China, India, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Australia and Europe will also attend the conference.

Seven workshops will take place during the convention. “One of them is a double-length workshop by Gary Smith from Ammonia Safety Training Institute. He and several industry leaders will be explaining the latest technologies and guidelines addressing what to do immediately after a release is discovered,” Eric Smith said.

During another workshop, the American Society for Asset Management will delve into what every manufacturer and contractor needs to know about asset protection, tax reduction and estate planning. “We thought this would be an interesting session for our members that are small business operators,” Smith said.

A core feature of the conference is the presentation of technical papers, Stencel said. “The technical papers are presented in an unbiased and generic manner to share new technologies and case studies for the effective use of ammonia,” he said.

To give speakers and presenters the opportunity to share more about their businesses, the conference includes a technomercial program, which takes a slightly more commercial aspect than other sessions. “There is a keen focus on the technical papers being as fair and unbiased as possible, but with the technomercials we allow our valued sponsors and exhibitors to be specific about their offerings and the contributions of their business to our industry,” Stencel said.

There are 12 half-hours of technomercials. “Generally they are focused on technological developments, but they allow the speaker to acknowledge their part in those developments,” Stencel said.

Meanwhile, attendees will have an opportunity to connect with their peers through a number of networking opportunities, including the chairman’s event, in which members from all sectors of the industry come together to socialize and exchange ideas on what is going on throughout the industry.

“It is a great educational experience, but it is also an opportunity to meet and socialize with the best minds in the industry and to get their opinions,” Rule said.

IIAR will launch several new member tools and services during the conference, including a member mobile app designed to facilitate easy access to technical publications and other services.

Rule said the app will provide conference information, including maps and how to identify which tracks to attend. “There will be methods to rate technical papers and workshops and it will make it easier to utilize social media during the meeting to connect with other attendees,” Rule said.

The app will also allow for easier access to IIAR’s website. “Members will no longer have to log in. They can go directly to the member site,” Rule said, adding that IIAR is continuing to build out its end-user website and will be providing more information on safety, efficiency and regulatory issues. “We’ll be providing more electronic access to videos for end users and we’re expanding that service to include more products.”

Rule said all of IIAR’s standards have been formatted for viewing on electronic devices and that the association’s DVDs are being reformatted for electronic access.

As part of its future offerings, IIAR is developing a training curriculum and certificate education program for members related to the new IIAR-2 safety design standard. “It will provide our members with training on the new IIAR safety design standard and will have test questions developed and monitored according to ASTM standards. Members will have the opportunity to take an exam and show they are proficient in that standard,” Rule said.

IIAR will eventually roll out the certification program for its other standards. “One of the things OSHA and EPA always asks me is how are we are training our people. That is why we’re developing the curriculum for a certification education program,” Rule said. “Members will have a certificate from IIAR and the documentation to show they’ve had proper training.”

IIAR will also continue its outreach to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to review their programs and any new rulemaking process they’re going through. “We have started opening up discussions to address how new low-charge ammonia unitary packages could impact existing regulatory programs,” Rule said. “The idea is to move towards establishing new guidelines for how the small unitary packages could be addressed.”

Rule said IIAR is continuing to explore methods to increase communications between end users and first responders. “Our end users are required to reach out and coordinate plans with first responders. A lot of times those first responders are volunteer agencies and they are undertrained and underfunded. Too often they are afraid to get involved because they don’t understand the ammonia systems,” he said.

Rule said the new programs and priorities for the year ahead will be discussed throughout the conference.