On 17 November, EFESME participated in the event organised in Tenerife, Spain, by its member FEPYMA, the Spanish federation that defends the interests of lift SMEs in the territory through a number of local associations. The event took place during a day entirely dedicated to the topic of barriers and their removal.
One of the most interesting aspects was the meaning given to the term 'barriers' itself: not only architectural ones, the most obvious when using such a term in the lift sector, but also technological, content-related and linguistic ones, i.e. all those obstacles, whether large or small, that prevent lift SMEs from fully expressing their capabilities and potential.
EFESME participated with its European partner SBS - Small Business Standards in the second panel, organised around a round table with different stakeholders to discuss the role and importance in breaking down barriers of technical standards developed at European and international level for the sector. The Federation was represented by its Policy Advisor in Brussels, Ms. Elettra Bilibio, while SBS participated in the person of its Director General, Ms. Maitane Olabarria Uzquiano.
Ms. Bilibio and Ms. Olabarria Uzquiano, starting from two interconnected points of view, emphasised the fundamental role of standards in breaking down barriers that prevent SMEs from making the most of their creativity and skills. Linguistic, educational and content-based, and technological barriers can be broken down by well-written standards, so as to create, both at European and international level, a working environment that is welcoming and fair to SMEs, and to achieve a true level-playing field. This is a reasoning that does not only apply to the elevator sector, but to all of them - an extremely important consideration to keep in mind especially with regard to the role of standards in increasingly interlinked sectors.
The round table was the perfect opportunity for both EFESME and SBS to explain to the SMEs present the work that the two European associations are doing together in the various CEN-CENELEC, ETSI, and ISO working groups to ensure that the standards produced and published are as SME-friendly as possible. The cooperation between EFESME and SBS, which has been going on for many years now, allows the technical experts from the federations to attend technical meetings with the valuable support of SBS.
From left to right: Mr. José María Compagni Morales, FEPYMA coordinator; Mr. Vicente Fernández-Oliva, Head of Industrial Safety Service of the Canary Islands; Ms. Maitane Olabarria Uzquiano, SBS Director General; Ms. Elettra Bilibio, EFESME Policy Advisor.
After the greetings of FEPYMA President Doña Sara Fernández Yanes, the mayor of La Gancha, Don Antonio Hernández Domínguez, and Don Moisés Fernandez Yanes, the president of the Canary Islands lift industry association of SMEs (Ascana), the first panel addressed the strengths and opportunities for SMEs in the lift industry. Both are numerous, and define the very way in which European lift SMEs approach their daily work and use their creativity to overcome obstacles. On the basis of these strengths and opportunities, national as well as European level, exploiting the exchange of information and focusing on skills development, certainly strengthened by association activity and investment in emerging technologies, SMEs will continue to be real and important players within the industry.
After the second panel on the role of standardisation, the third panel addressed the issue of barriers in its most classic sense: the barrier that prevents accessibility, and the role that SMEs play in solving this problem. Part of the panel was rightly dedicated to the situation in Spain, with a special focus on the Canary Islands and Tenerife, the conference venue. Architectural barriers remain a huge problem for building accessibility and people's rights: lift SMEs, with their originality and the flexibility and customisation of their designs and machinery, are in the best position to make the most of existing regulations and contribute to solving this long-standing problem.
And the role of standards is not to be forgotten! EFESME experts are working to ensure that accessibility is always given due and proper consideration when developing new standards.
The last panel was dedicated to the presentation of two technical solutions for the sector developed by two Spanish companies, Nayar and Epic Power, which demonstrated the creativity of lift companies in developing innovative projects by making the most of the latest technologies, in a process of continuous research and evolution.
EFESME would like to thank FEPYMA for the invitation and the opportunity given to meet Spanish lift SMEs on the territory and in person. The event gave both EFESME and SBS the opportunity to speak directly with SMEs and discuss their expectations and difficulties, strengthening the virtuous circle of information exchange between the national level and the European sphere.
EFESME also hopes to organise more similar events with its other members in 2023 and in the years to come, so that it can continue to explore the issue of barriers and their removal by talking to lift SMEs around Europe.