On May 29, the WJTA Board of Directors announced the cancelation of the WJTA Expo that was scheduled to take place Nov. 10-11, in New Orleans. Prior to making this difficult decision, feedback was gathered from participants and exhibitors through online surveys. Some respondents indicated a desire to see a return to normalcy and opportunity to connect. The majority, however, indicated that they were unlikely to participate in a fall tradeshow or they had significant concerns about COVID-19, travel restrictions, fallout from low oil prices, potentially heavy fall workloads and effects from the overall economy.
WJTA leadership hopes for a safe and swift return to normalcy for our members. In the interest of attendees, exhibitors and communities, however, the board felt that the best course of action was to cancel the event. Building on the successful 2019 Conference & Expo’s increased attendance, expanded educational opportunities and positive feedback, WJTA 2020 was expected to be one of the association’s best tradeshows. WJTA is developing options, such as e-learning, to support members in the absence of an in-person event this year.
Looking Ahead to 2021
The association is excited to announce the 2021 WJTA Conference & Expo will be held Oct. 26-28 in New Orleans. The 2021 Conference & Expo will be an exciting opportunity to connect after the absence of the 2020 tradeshow and the industry turmoil due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2021 Conference & Expo will feature an expanded exhibit hall with heavy equipment and hands-on, interactive displays. Outdoor live demonstrations of hydroblasting, vacuum truck and industrial cleaning equipment offer participants the chance to see cleaning equipment and automation in action. Finally, the educational component is expanded to include a day-long short course, boot camp seminars, a dedicated session track for asset owners, and technical white papers from industry and academia.
Additional event details will be announced soon, but there has already been an outstanding response from 2020 exhibitors and sponsors committing to the 2021 tradeshow already, indicating a great deal of excitement for the show.
WJTA to Launch Digital Offerings
The association has undertaken several updates for easier access to its resources, including the development of streaming capability for the association’s recommended practices safety videos. The WJTA videos are developed to accompany the waterjetting and vacuum equipment best practices manuals. Contractors will soon be able to access the safety videos remotely and on different devices and in different locations.
The WJTA is also launching plans to convert the 2020 Expo educational program into free online e-learning webinars. Educating industry professionals on technology, safety, best practices, business issues and trends is an important role of the association, and the free webinars will be a way to continue this mission in the absence of the in-person tradeshow. WJTA’s educational courses are a key source of continuing education for contractors, asset owners and suppliers in the areas of industrial cleaning, waterjetting and industrial vacuum.
A schedule of webinars will be announced shortly. WJTA educational programs are highly regarded, expert-led sessions on some of the timeliest topics in the industry. Trends in safety, best practices and technology are covered, providing a valuable resource to stay ahead of the curve.
WJTA Training & Certification
The Hydroblaster Training & Certification program was held June 18, with a number of contractor, manufacturer and asset owner representatives in attendance. Participants learned more about the program structure and purpose and viewed a sampling of the course and materials demonstrated. An extended Q&A allowed WJTA Master Trainers and a representative from the Houston Area Safety Council to answer questions from the audience on various aspects of the program. The response was positive, and a recording has been made available on the WJTA website for individuals who were not able to participate in the in-person webinar.
Progress on the program has continued despite some of the restrictions that have extended into mid-summer. Several groups of petrochemical plants and asset owners have endorsed certification for hydroblast operators and WJTA’s training and certification as a best practice. Additional train-the-trainer sessions have been scheduled to increase the number of Verified Trainers who can deliver hands-on WJTA Field Verification.