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Powder/Bulk Solids

The Source for Dry Processing and Bulk Handling Technology

The Powder & Bulk Solids Conference and Exhibition: Then, Now, and Tomorrow

Mike Critser

The Powder & Bulk Solids Conference and Exhibition began as an offshoot of the Powtech show in the early 1970s in the UK. In 1976, the International Powder Institute and the Powder Advisory Centre approached Industrial & Scientific Conference Management Inc. to coproduce the Powder show in the United States. The first event was held in May 1976 at the O’Hare International Trade Center in Rosemont, IL (now the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center). Industrial & Scientific Conference Management was later bought by Cahners Exhibition Group, then by Reed Exhibition Companies, and, finally, by Canon Communications.

The show began humbly with only 90 exhibitors and two conference sessions. Still, it attracted a sizable number of attendees from key process manufacturing centers around the world, meeting the industry’s needs by bringing together products and services, education, and networking opportunities for suppliers, customers, and colleagues from a wide range of industries worldwide.

Solids handling continues to play a vital role in a variety of industries. While innovations in solids handling and processing have always been important, these activities face a range of challenges that affect business development. Challenges include sustainability and the need for more-efficient energy use; product and plant concerns; the importance of waste management and the role of more-efficient and cleaner methods of energy production; and the need to retain competitiveness as new techniques and technological developments are introduced.

However, the powder and bulk solids industry has not changed as rapidly as other industries. An important reason for this is that bulk materials are very difficult to handle, requiring an intimate understanding of how they behave under different conditions. Thus, the application of knowledge and know-how is vital to keep materials flowing reliably—an essential requirement for process industries.

The kind of knowledge transfer that takes place at the Powder & Bulk Solids Conference will become increasingly vital as the industry begins to handle new materials such as nonstandard bulk solids and very fine powders. Nonstandard bulk solids, including stringy and compressible materials, behave very differently from plastic pellets, paint pigments, or cement, while fine powders are driven partly by micro and nanotechnology.

There are very few venues where engineers new to the industry and industry veterans can meet with leading experts to discuss problems. Additionally, many people who are new to the field don’t know what they don’t know. The Powder Show provides an excellent opportunity to open attendees’ eyes and ears to the issues the industry will face in the years to come.

The Powder Show has a record of continual improvement to meet the industry’s needs. For example, the conference began as presentations on the exhibition floor. Then workshop programs were organized parallel to a traditional scientific conference. Now the show offers programs that focus on expanding knowledge by combining longstanding experience and research developments.

The Powder & Bulk Solids Exhibition continues to evolve and grow. The 2008 event will significantly expand its focus to include all processed materials from a wide range of industries, including the food, beverage, chemical, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, rubber and plastic, paper and pulp, paint and coating, mining, petroleum, and glass sectors. The new Process Technology Expo International will increase global participation. The expanded show will provide a unified market-based perspective on the full range of processing technologies, products, equipment, systems, and services while offering dedicated events focusing on powder and bulk solids processing, chemical processing, pharmaceutical processing, and packaging technologies.

A full-featured event, Process Technology Expo International will offer the industry the most cost-effective means to reach the entire processing market. It will provide buyers and processing engineers with an efficient one-stop resource for all of their product, equipment, and service needs. Finally, it will cover every processing industry… and every application.

Mike Critser is group conference manager at Canon Communications llc. He has been involved in the Powder conference program since 1985. With a background in electrical engineering, he has produced conferences in a wide range of industries and currently produces conference programs at many Canon manufacturing events.