Last month we talked about the future of the industry and the fact that technological advancements are our future and the key to your business thriving in the 21st century. Who will be the change-agents in your company? Where will the technological advancements begin? How will the "latest and greatest" for your field of interest become known to your company?

....As always,Industrial Heatingwill work hard to bring you new technologies each month, but that may not be enough. YOU may very well be the agent for advancing technology in your organization. If so, how will you know what to do and when? By having an annual check-up, of course!

....While this annual check-up has nothing to do with your family doctor, it may be an opportunity for a mental health break. This check-up involves attending an annual conference, seminar, or trade show in heat treatment or your particular field of interest. Certainly if one is good, more might be even better, but the suggestion is for everyone reading this to choose at least one such opportunity annually to see what is happening in the field and how your company might be able to take advantage of cutting-edge technologies.

Since a conference is coming up soon, here is a suggestion. For all those involved in heat treatment or furnaces, Furnaces North America 2006 (FNA2006) in Reno (September 27-28) might be just the ticket. FNA2006's "Oasis" is North America's only heat treat conference and seminar this year, and it will offer attendees a chance to not only hear about cutting-edge technology but also see some of it on display.

An advanced look at a few of the conference presentations illustrates the value of attending such an event. One presenttion discusses ideas for reducing operating costs of an atmosphere heat treat operation by improving energy efficiency. Two others discuss vacuum hardening, including pumping system issues and high-pressure gas vs. oil quenching. Still another discusses ways of improving operating efficiencies by using various automation techniques. A total of 16 presentations will be given, and all attendees will receive a CD containing all of the presentations. It is expected that more than 1,500 people will attend FNA2006, and I hope to see you there too!

Another idea would be to take a short course of some type. ASM regularly offers courses in a variety of pertinent areas. The Industrial Heating Equipment Association (IHEA) is currently offering distance-learning, on-line courses on Industrial Process Heating. The one on Advanced Industrial Process Heating runs from September 11-November 13.

If your area of interest is somewhat outside heat treatment, there are opportunities for you as well. Each monthIndustrial Heatinglists "Industry Events" and "Upcoming Trade Shows." Our website has a link to these as well. Pick at least one of these a year and go to stretch yourself. At the very least, you will learn new things and develop in your career. You never know, this annual check-up might be just the thing to help you become an agent for technological change in your company!