It’s been five years give or take since I founded Empire Engineering. During this time (and in plenty of the years prior, actually) there’s been countless offshore engineering conferences and events marketed to our sector. Don’t get me wrong – these sprawling exhibition halls packed with stands and throngs of people from such a broad range of our industry serves a purpose. However, I can’t help but feel every time I’ve left one of these shows that it’s been expensive; not in terms of monetary expenses (although some of the food stalls at these venues need to start accepting kidney donations alongside contactless if they’re to keep charging what they charge!), but expensive in terms of my time versus the knowledge, information and insights I gained for my particular part of this wonderful industry we get to work in.

I’m talking of course about the depth of technical content that really pushes the boundaries of what today’s offshore windfarm engineering can achieve. Similarly, detailed analysis of the unique challenges we face as a community as well as a chance to peer into the looking glass of technological innovation that will impact our projects in the years to come. Taking a day out from any project or teams is a big deal, regardless of your company size. Whether I’m with my team at Empire Engineering or managing the foundations packages for one of our clients, justifying attendance at an event was challenging (let alone the ticket price and aforementioned sustenance costs). It was just highly unlikely I’d come back with the ideas and inspiration that would make a tangible practical difference to my projects.

Being an engineer meant I felt an overwhelming urge to fix this. But it’s not as straightforward as simply getting some interesting speakers in a fancy room. The team and I spent a few sleepless nights putting together a brand new offshore engineering conference. Our vision is for an event that is not just a compelling roster of speakers covering topics that are critical to our industry, but also really think about the format and the delivery of the information. The experience of sitting through hours long presentations on uncomfortable conference chairs has pretty much scarred me for life. 

What did we come up with? Well, in honesty it’s another event. Anticlimactic, I know. So, what’s different about this offshore engineering conference? Foundation Ex is an event for technical teams, by a technical team. Yes, we’ve got event logistic support, so the sandwiches are taken care of, but the essence of Foundation Ex, the technical content, the innovative discussion, the stimulating debate, is there to support the development of the offshore wind industry. We feel that by being properly technical and radically innovative we really deliver the justification to take a day out of the office. 

These are nice words of course, but how are we backing them up? Firstly, by the experts who’ve kindly agreed to get involved. In no particular order here are some of the people I’m really looking forward to listening to, and why:

  • Dan Butterworth from DNV-GL will be sharing his unique insight into recent changes to the governing standards for offshore wind farm foundations (DNV-GL-ST-0126), as well as DNV-GL’s latest views of where further research or joint industry projects would be beneficial to the industry.
  • Henrietta Ridgeon from Arup will be discussing how, as the industry continues to drive down costs in the offshore wind industry, structural and geotechnical engineers need to work together to optimise the detailed design of the emerging foundation solutions.
  • Alan Macleay from Seaway7 will reveal various innovative methods that have been developed for driving MPs from floating installation vessels.
  • Danny Bonnett from Wood Thilsted will tell us how they teamed up with Engineering giant WSP to perform the detailed design to design the first utility scale offshore wind project in the USA.

Secondly, we’ve thought long and hard about how painful it is to sit through seemingly endless sessions (even as compelling as some of those I’ve outlined above). Painful both mentally (emotionally?) and physically (think of those conference chairs!). So, we’ve challenged our presenters to keep their sessions to 15 minutes max. There’s a reason why TED talks are not much longer than our sessions, so we’ve decided to follow similarly. For the sake of our postures, if nothing else!

Finally, this is a small event focused for those specliaising in our niche field. We’ve chosen an iconic, yet non-cavernous venue in Bristol for Foundation Ex very deliberately. Part of the justification of taking a day out of the office, project or team that you are working in is to get a chance to really network and share technical ideas, experiences and war stories. By keeping numbers down and being selective over who we promote tickets to, we think we can create the ideal forum for delegates to get real innovative and technical value from the event.

Check out the agenda here or go ahead and book your ticket now as places are limited. In a time when one of our most precious commodities really is our time, we’ve made sure Foundation-ex will be worth yours. See you on Oct 1st at the front or the back, or otherwise at the bar.

Empire Engineering are offshore wind foundations specialists. If you would like to know more about how we can mitigate the risks of offshore structural failures, or rectify issues once they’ve occurred, please get in touch.

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