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EFESME and European Lift SMEs Congress

From 18 Nov 2020 to 19 Nov 2020

On 18 and 19 November last, EFESME was one of the sponsors of the first edition of the European Lift SMEs Congress, an event organised by the Spanish Docensas under the patronage of its Director Mr. José Maria Compagni, and with the support of FEPYMA, the Spanish member of EFESME. The event, designed to promote communication between European lift SMEs and the exchange of information and ideas, was divided into six thematic panels, and was attended by speakers and guests from a wide range of backgrounds: from lift SMEs to larger companies, from European institutions to organisations supporting SMEs working with the European bubble; to experts, technicians, architects, all interested in the latest developments and innovations in the lift sector.   The first panel, the most institutional, tried to give an answer to the question "Do lift SMEs benefit from the EU?". The participants, all actively involved in activities at European level, agreed that the European Union, its institutions and initiatives bring benefits to lift SMEs. The funds, the European calls, the projects supporting research and development, and not only this, are all excellent opportunities for SMEs; of course, it is not always easy for them to access these programmes, either because of lack of knowledge or because the procedures are extremely complicated. This is where sector associations such as EFESME, the European Federation for Elevator Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, represented by its President, Mr. Massimo Bezzi, or SBS - Small Business Standards and SMEunited, represented respectively by President Ms. Gunilla Almgren and by the Director of Enterprise Policy and External Relations, Mr. Luc Hendrickx, come in. the guests talked about the importance of involving SMEs in policy-making processes at European level, to create an SME-friendly environment that can be the favourable ground for the tools available to them to project themselves more and more into the future.  They also talked about the importance of relying on the active participation of SMEs in the European Standardisation System (EES), to ensure that lift standards always take into account the demands and positions of lift SMEs. Mr. Vesa Katajisto, Policy Officer and Technical Desk Officer for the European Commission DG Grow agreed on this position, and stressed that the active participation of SMEs in the ESS is always welcome, and has already led to countless important results. The standards themselves can bring countless benefits to lift SMEs, stimulating the economy, ensuring safety and quality, and creating a level-playing field in which they can thrive on a par with large companies. The panel ended with the words of Mr. Eugenio Barroso, General Manager of MP Lifts, who took up the concept of projecting lift SMEs into the future, highlighting how they must abandon potentially negative features such as fragmentation of their work, and focus instead on their strengths, like their close relationship with their clients, their agility and their entrepreneurial spirit.   With the second panel, on the other hand, the more technical aspects were immediately analysed. Moderated by Lars Olden, a Swedish entrepreneur with years of experience in the remote lift control sector and an EFESME-SBS expert, the panel discussed interconnected lifts and investigated the opportunities and risks for SMEs in this regard. The guests came from heterogeneous backgrounds, to guarantee multiple points of view and opinions: Mr. Ivan Ferrarini Technical Director at Farma Ascensori and EFESME-SBS expert; Mr. Hani Saliba, Product & Commercial director at MP Lifts; Mr. Alfredo Gómez, Technological Innovation and Business Development at ITAinnova and member of CEN TC-10, and Mr. Ricard Bou, Global Head of Strategic Projects of Nayar Systems. They discussed about the remote control of the systems, preventive maintenance, machine learning and data access, topics addressed again later on. These topics, together with the data structure, their diversity and ownership, are becoming more and more crucial to the life and daily work of lift SMEs. In fact, SMEs with no remote monitoring and predictive maintenance skills will most likely be out of the market soon, replaced by other companies, small-medium as well as large ones, which have been able to adapt more easily to the changing market. But this change should not only be interpreted in a negative way: SMEs are faster, more flexible, and more creative than bigger players, and should start moving now to implement new actions and to learn how to use these new devices and digital means. What is fundamental for their survival, first, and their thriving, then, is to know these topics well, to have technicians trained on the subject, and to try to coordinate as much as possible between them, so as to support and promote the development of a technological, IT and digital environment for SMEs where they can give their best and continue to be a dominant force in the market.   The third panel then addressed the increasingly topical issue of data access and ownership, asking whether lifts in Europe are really accessible to all operators. Conducted by Mr. Baptiste Quenardel, representing ANPA, the French member of EFESME, the panel was attended by the SBS Director, Ms. Maitane Olabarria Uzquiano; Mr. Luciano Faletto, EFESME Secretary General and EFESME-SBS expert within ISO TC 178; Mr. Luciano Faletto, the Secretary General of EFESME and EFESME-SBS expert within ISO TC 178; Mr. Pepe Gutierrez, property manager and technology expert for the Spanish Education Ministry in property management; Mr. Diego Cadierno, Operations and Project Manager of Docensas; and Mr. Francisco Fernández, Country Manager of Grupo Netel. The speakers agreed that it is very difficult to understand to whom the data belong, especially because there are no open protocols, and that, as a result, the necessary information is not always easily accessible to lift SMEs and their operators for maintenance. In this context, it is becoming increasingly necessary for lift SMEs to coordinate among themselves and with their associations, at national and European level, to prevent new technical barriers, but also to train their experts, to allow customers to freely choose which services to access, to fight for adequate tools and standards, and to be able to access and exchange data in order to work on the same level as other players in the sector, in full and fair competition.   The second day of the Congress started with the panel dedicated to the market share that SMEs will occupy in the future: will it increase, or will lift SMEs be progressively pushed out of the market by large and multinational companies? Moderated by Mr. Damyan Petrov, Vice-President of EFESME and entrepreneur in Bulgaria, the panel was attended by architects, such as Mr. Fabian Listerri (architect and former treasurer of the International Union of Architects) and Dr. Dario Trabucco (architect and associate professor at IUAV - University of Venice), and entrepreneurs, such as Mr. Patrick Cox (CEO of Tre-e Consortium) and Mr. Antonio Fernández Moray (CEHAM, head of marketing and commercial department). Once again, the speakers stressed that SMEs agility in the lift industry, their spirit of adaptation, and their promptness are characteristics that give them a competitive edge that large companies and multinationals, by their very structure, neither have nor can have. The closeness to clients and the customisation of an installation according to their wishes and needs, both in the design of the product itself and in the services offered, were identified as formidable strengths by panellists. The panellists, strengthened by their experience in the field and in related sectors, were able to bring their experience and several case studies as proof of the importance of investing in innovation, research and development, as well as in customisation, but also in the training of experts, SME collaboration, SME market presence and access to information and best practices through local and European lift SME organisations.   Finally, the last and fifth panel investigated various European lift markets to answer an only apparently simple question: are lift markets in Europe very different between one another? Moderated by Mr. Giuseppe Iotti, EFESME-SBS expert in the Commission Expert Group on Lifts and entrepreneur in Italy, the panel went into detail to illustrate differences, peculiarities, strengths and weaknesses of different markets, which are interconnected thanks mainly to the Single Market and to shared standards, two of the tools discussed in the first panel and supported by the EU to let a safe and quality market flourish. The speakers came from countless countries, and not only from Europe: Austria, the UK, the Scandinavian countries, Poland and the Czech Republic, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and southern Europe, but also the Middle East and North Africa, the latter being expanding markets where European lift SMEs can bring not only their products, but also their experience and knowledge, to support the creation of a thriving market tailored to customers and with high levels of quality and safety.   The event ended with the presentation of an interesting new initiative, the European Awards for Lift SMEs, which will take place throughout 2021 and will culminate with the announcement of the winners during the 2021 edition of Interlift, next October in Augsburg, Germany. These awards, a first in the lift sector, aim to highlight the great work done by SMEs every day, their creativity, their spirit of collaboration to overcome adversity and prosper, and to create a European and international showcase for lift SMEs to celebrate their most outstanding initiatives and projects.   The Congress, in its first edition, has been a remarkable success, thanks to the quality of the organisation and to the guests all, from institutional profiles and SMEs entrepreneurs to technicians and experts, all engaged in supporting lift SMEs at European and international level. For EFESME, the Congress was an excellent opportunity to present its positions and activities, and to demonstrate, through collaboration with its members, experts, and with its partners SBS and SMEunited, how it is possible to create a European environment for SMEs that supports them through instruments, projects, funds, and initiatives.   In the end, the Congress highlighted the future challenges, but also the many opportunities for SMEs; the importance of knowing the standards affecting the lift industry, and of actively participating in their writing and in the creation of an SME-friendly working environment; the need to promote collaboration between SMEs and the exchange of good practises, but also to enhance their creativity, flexibility and originality, to enable them to thrive in the sector; to know the market and to train SMEs' experts to ensure an increasingly high quality service, that combines the knowledge of the latest technologies with the human relationship with the customer, which has always been a strong point of SMEs in Europe and worldwide. These are important challenges, they are tough challenges. They are also challenges that open up important, significant opportunities at European level and worldwide, and that can give lift SMEs all the tools they need to grow, work, and prosper in the future.   For more information on activities in favour of SMEs in the lift industry: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. For more information on European Lift SMEs Congress and on the European Awards for Lift SMEs: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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