Glass Performance Days (GPD) is returning to Tampere, Finland, June 25-28, 2019. The global glass industry event will include education, networking and entertainment. Now in its 27th year, GPD 2019 will take a look into what the future holds, with an eye on smarter glass. And this year’s event promises to be unforgettable, as it also marks the retirement of Jorma Vitkala, chair of the GPD organizing committee, whose retirement will be celebrated during the famous farewell party.

Getting Smarter

This year GPD will delve into what the future has in store for the glass industry, with a key focus on smart technologies, including glazing, factories, buildings and even smart cities. The technical sessions will address the challenges the industry faces today regarding the ever-changing demands from architectural development, façade engineering, new technologies and the latest R&D, as well as energy efficiency and sustainability.

According to Vitkala, this year’s GPD will offer new technical innovations.

“New sensor concepts and electronics will be integrated into glass. Active glass and active facade performance, media facades and touch-screen applications will appear. Products will become multifaceted and manufacturing will require not only the input of multiple suppliers, but also deeper and wider integration of production and solutions,” he says. “Different forms of alliances among industries are needed. The ever-changing society and built environment also set continuous, growing and new requirements for the work mode of the industry … Input [comes] from sources external to the glass industry and from small start-up companies with vast unprejudiced innovation potential.”

Industry and University Collaboration

The event will also address global developments for the future, including the fourth industrial revolution, which organizers say is already happening around the world. The Internet of Things (IoT)/Industry 4.0 provides numerous advantages for the glass industry that will be addressed.

Another important focus will be on industry and university collaboration. Universities are crucial in research and development, especially in products.

“To develop the glass industry, cooperation between universities must be increased. These young talents could be the next new talents on your team. Therefore, it would be a shame if we didn’t feed this passion further,” says Vitkala. “The future will be built with cooperation.”

In addition, the Step Change program will also return to GPD. This module of the conference is aimed at bringing new technologies, startup companies and investors together.

Unforgettable Networking

GPD is famous for its networking activities and this year will be no exception. The event will offer plenty of opportunities to create partnerships and connect with like-minded people during lunches, coffee breaks, the get-together party and conference dinner.

The festivities begin the first night, following the opening ceremonies, which will be moderated by Finnish radio personality, Jussi Heikelä. In addition to Arto Metsänen, CEO and president of Glaston, and Vitkala, speakers include Stefan Blach of Studio Libeskind; Mike Pilliod, director of Tesla; and Dr. Sener Oktik, chief technology officer with Şişecam.

Following the opening ceremonies, the get-together party provides an opportunity to meet old as well as new colleagues, while enjoying a buffet style dinner.

The second evening brings the conference dinner, which will take place at Tampere-Talo and includes food, drinks and entertainment.

GPD closes with the famous farewell party, which doubles this year as Vitkala’s retirement celebration. The informal event, which goes from that evening until sunrise (if you dare) will include special networking opportunities, activities and memorable entertainment.

“The farewell party has always had a major role in marketing and building the special spirit of the event. Over the years, it’s been a party that has created great memories and friendships that will last forever,” says Vitkala. “We’ve had different themes every year. The western party and the Viking evening are two that many people remember most.”

He adds, “Now that I’m organizing this for the final time, it will have a wild west theme. This time, though, it will also be my retirement party. And I’m looking forward to celebrating with everyone throughout the entire night.”

See and Be Seen

GPD will draw in veteran attendees, as well as first-timers. Paul Becks, executive vice president of National Enclosure Co. (NEC) in Ypsilanti, Mich., will be one of those attending for the first time. He says that since his company is focused on the advanced application of jumbo and structural glass, he felt it was important to engage at this point.

“There is so much evolution and advancement in glass recently, and NEC has developed a good reputation for advanced glass applications, and we are dealing with most of the major players already,” he says. “I think it is important to not only see firsthand the thoughts and evolutions, but also to engage directly and share my insights and
observations with the industry leaders, so they can hear from the implementers and end users.”

With GPD now in its 27th staging, Vitkala says he also has many memories of the event.

“One of my warmest memories is from the early days, when the chairs and committee members helped me create the entire happening and used their free time to support me in developing the entire event. I want to give them all—as well as every speaker—a huge thank you from the bottom of my heart!”

He adds, “The mood that was created [over the years] has been something very unique, something tangible that everyone could feel made a difference. This collaborative and constructive atmosphere was present in the conference’s program as well as in the evening party events. This good feeling has become known as the GPD spirit.”

Wide Open Spaces

GPD 2019 will be held at Tampere Exhibition and Sports Center. The venue allows the event to take place in one open, 5,000-square-meter space, providing an ideal setting for the conferences, expo and networking. According to event organizers, the open nature of the venue makes moving between sessions and presentations easy and efficient. The same is true for networking, as everyone will be together in one space, making it easy to connect. All coffee breaks and lunches will be served in the Expo area.

Intense and Focused Workshops

In addition to the regular event program, GPD also offers a unique workshop series that will take place prior to the official event kick off. The workshops offer a multitude of subjects, ranging from market opportunities, smart and thin glass, tempering and laminating, to glass technology and features. They are held in different locations throughout Tampere, with the exception of the “High Rise – Northern Exposure” workshop, which will be held in Helsinki.

Ellen Rogers is the editor of USGlass magazine. Follow her on Twitter @EllenGRogers and like her on Facebook at usgellenrogers to receive updates.

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