Last updateFri, 07 Aug 2020 2pm

2019 VMA Knowledge Forum Tackles Broad Range of Issues

When VMA first combined three meetings into one—the Valve Industry Knowledge Forum—it did so with the idea that attendees would have a much more varied range of topics from which to choose as well as an opportunity to mingle and exchange information with peers in positions that are different from their day-to-day jobs. That exchange will occur this year at the second annual VMA Industry Knowledge Forum on April 9-11 at the Doubletree Hotel Perimeter Park, Birmingham, AL. “Attendees from the first combined meeting in 2018 extolled the value of an agenda with educational tracks that were both specific to what they do and cross into new areas for them. We believe by doing this, we’ve created a more meaningful exchange of dialogue and ideas,” says VMA President Bill Sandler.

As one attendee from last year’s evaluations said: The “forum was a nice change from meetings done at different times in the year. I liked [having] the educational tracks presented in one place.”

The meeting’s tracks include:

  • Technical: Subject matter of interest to experienced technical and engineering personnel.
  • Manufacturing: Issues that help those who work within and supervise the plants that make valves and related equipment.
  • Marketing and Management: Topics for professionals new to the industry as well as those moving into management and marketing roles for their companies.


The event begins with a day set aside for tours during the first half of the day (Tuesday, April 9) and a special educational workshop in the afternoon. Attendees have the chance to visit one of the following:

Honda Manufacturing Company, which is Honda’s largest light truck production facility. Since the start of production in 2001, this manufacturing facility has incorporated innovative manufacturing shared by Honda facilities around the globe. The plant covers more than 4 million square feet and employs 4,500 people.

Kamtek Manufacturing Company, the metal division of Magna, a mobility technology company and one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers. The production lines have more than 700 robots assembling and accomplishing other tasks, and the facility has two melt furnaces and four high-pressure aluminum die cast machines.

These tours are always popular and are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. As one person commented last year: “Participating in the tours is a good way to casually meet attendees and learn about different business and manufacturing operations.”

Also on Tuesday, attendees have may sign up for a pre-conference workshop, included in their registration, about the American Society of Mechanical Engineers B16.34. Carlos Davila, who has more than 48 years of valve experience, will present the latest information on this standard and related standards from American Petroleum Institute and Manufacturers Standardization Society.

Later in the day, a mobile demonstration lab will be available for attendees to tour. The lab is an instructional tool used by the Robotics Technical Park that has virtual reality welding and forklift simulators, 3D printing, robot training and more.


Pat TothWednesday, April 10 kicks off the educational program starting with keynote speaker Pat Toth addressing one of the hottest issues of today: the threat of cyber-attacks. Cybersecurity is now one of the major risks facing industrial companies, including the valve industry. Toth, who is supervisory computer scientist of the Computer Security Division, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), will provide an overview of how to manage the risks in a manufacturing environment. She will describe the five steps of NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework, Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover and will cover the Department of Defense’s Federal Acquisition Supplement requirements.

Educational sessions follow the keynote address and continue until noon of the next day, Thursday, April 11. Besides the keynote, some of the other topics and speakers during the educational tracks include:

Effectively Digitizing Valve Performance in the IIOT, Digital Twin World: Stan Hale, senior director at MRC Global, will bring attendees up to date on what’s happening in today’s Industrial Internet of Things, the digital world of smart plants, Industry 4.0 and the promises the new technologies hold.

Digitally Predicting On-Line Diagnostics of Valve Assemblies: Rayaz Ali, senior director, Instrumentation Technology, Emerson Automation Solutions, will address today’s regulatory requirements and plant maintenance philosophies and discuss how diagnostics can improve run time by predicting valve health critical to a plant’s smooth operation.

Laboratory Testing of Fugitive Emissions for Valves, Packing and Gaskets: Matt Wasielewski, president of Yarmouth Research and Technology, will review the history of testing standards and brings attendees into the present world of published and upcoming revisions to standards.

SimulationHub: Sandip Jadhav, CEO, Centre for Computational Technologies, will explain this platform, which is a dedicated, cloud-based tool for measuring valve flow coefficient and predicting hydrodynamic torque, which can be a virtual alternative for flow loop testing.

Tariffs, Trade Issues and the Valve Industry: Eric McClafferty, Kelley, Drye & Warren, will discuss what’s happening with trade and tariffs, including the status of the Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum and the tens of thousands of exclusion requests that have been submitted, as well as what’s happening with China Section 301 tariffs.

Digital Transformation and Predictive Analysis: Mohamed Abuali, CEO of loT CO, LLC, and Edzel Lapira, president and CEO of Predictronics, Inc., will provide a comprehensive understanding of the digital transformation of industry and the Industrial Internet of Things as well as how they are being used in the valve world.

The Future Factory Floor: Kristi Bain, assistant director of training, AIDT, will discuss what organizations are doing to embrace future technologies including using robotics, programmable logic controllers, vision technology, the internet of things and additive manufacturing. She also will talk about the gaps in the current capabilities of the workforce, and the knowledge that will be required to use these technologies.

Using Robots to Improve Productivity and Operator Safety: Tom Moylan, regional automation manager for Acieta, will address how robots can improve productivity in valve manufacturing, operator safety on the production line and uptime for the plant as well as how they are being used to streamline the valve process.

Making the Decision to Specify or Buy Your Product: End-User Perspective: Ron Merrick, senior fellow, Fluor Enterprises, will report on the factors that go into decisions made by end users to buy or not buy a particular product—factors that go way beyond price.

Finances for the Non-finance Manager: Matt Bate, chief financial officer, Setpoint Integrated Solutions, will provide a framework for making financial decisions and explain how finance training for managers without a finance background is often lacking or overlooked resulting in too many people trying to figure it out on their own.

Non-disclosure and Non-compete Agreements: Jack Wisdom, partner, Martin Disiere, Jefferson & Wisdom, will explain these agreements and how they can benefit companies but are sometimes detrimental to employees.

Social Media Tools and Trends for B2B Enterprises: Kelly Watson, CEO, Project1421, will discuss current trends in social media, explain what’s available for business-to-business enterprises and how companies can benefit.

Economic Developers as Industry Partners: Andrew Fitzgerald, senior director of business intelligence, Baton Rouge Area Chamber, will highlight instances in which the Chamber has successfully advocated for policies that helped regional manufacturers and discuss how regional and state economic development groups advocate for tax, incentive and regulatory policies that ensure a state or region has laws conducive to growth.

On the last day of the conference, a joint session is planned for the Technical and Manufacturing educational tracks that addresses additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing. That session will include:

The Future of Industrial Manufacturing: Nick Sondej, senior applications engineer with Markforged, will address how 3D printing is having a huge impact on factories today, how it has changed and where it’s headed.

Hybrid-Additive Manufacturing: Guha Manogharan, assistant professor, Pennsylvania State University, will focus on the role of mechanical design and traditional manufacturing processes in the adoption of metal additive manufacturing. He will discuss two unique hybrid AM approaches: 1) a universal direct metal AM hybrid approach, and 2) mechanical design methodologies and casting-hydrodynamics that integrate casting processes through indirect metal AM.


exhibitDuring the afternoon hours of Wednesday, April 10, attendees will have an opportunity to visit a tabletop exhibit offering a range of companies that sell or provide services to valve manufacturers and end users, an event one commenter said last year was “worthwhile and a good value for the registration fee.” Several of the day’s social events, including lunch, an afternoon break and a welcome reception, have been designed to allow attendees time to interact with those exhibitors.

Also, attendees to the 2019 VMA Valve Industry Knowledge Forum will receive a certificate for 12 professional development hours, wide and those attending the pre-conference workshop will receive additional hours.

Early-bird registration closes Friday, Feb. 15; attendees do not have to be members of the Valve Manufacturers Association or Valve Repair Council. Also, exhibitors that aren’t members, but would be eligible for membership, can participate in the tabletop exhibits. All participants who are current members receive reduced registration fee. In addition, all registrants receive reduced fees for multiple attendees from the same company.

For information, go to www.vma.org>KnowledgeForum.


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. is managing editor of VALVE Magazine.

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