MRO Magazine

Revisiting and learning from a conference or seminar event


February 14, 2001
By PEM Magazine

The latter part of the twentieth century witnessed an explosion in adult learning events. Of these events, industry has particularly favoured conference or seminar events where a specific subject matter is featured and targeted toward a distinct peer group. Seminars tend to focus on single topic events such as industrial lubrication, predictive maintenance, reliability centered maintenance, etc., while conferences tend to be multi-topic events employing multiple speakers. Conference/seminar events are popular for two reasons: they deliver information in an easy-to-understand format that allows the attendee to come away with a basic understanding of the subject matter; and they provide a forum for attendees to network with peers. In short, attendance at conferences and seminars is an inexpensive method of providing employee training and introductions to both new and existing management philosophies and technologies.

Usually held over a one to three day time period, these events deliver information in a variety of formats, including: hands-on interactive workshops; case study presentations; and subject matter expert presentations.

Seminar and conference organizers provide attendees with speaker presentation material compiled in a three-ring binder or book bound as a "conference proceedings" manual. A good presenter will often provide written material that augments the actual presentation and challenges the attendee to probe further into the subject matter.

In large seminar or conference events, often promoted by professional societies, presentations are often categorized into specific "tracks" or themes. At a "multi-track" event, there can be two or more speakers presenting simultaneously — in separate rooms of course. At such an event the attendee is only able to attend one presentation at a time and conference proceedings become a valuable resource to reference at a later date for better understanding of both the events attended and the events missed.


Technical papers and presentations found in conference and seminar proceedings are useful and credible references when putting together "return on investment" cases for maintenance spending, as they often chronicle relevant facts and figures on the subject matter. Proceedings manuals are definitely worthy of inclusion in any modern maintenance library.

Title: The QS — 9000 Miniguide
Classification: General Interest
Author: John T. Rabbitt, Peter A. Bergh
Publisher: Productivity Press Inc.
ISBN #: 0-527-76356-X
Price: $5.25
Year: 1997
Index: No
Bibliography: No
Review: Productivity Inc. calls this publication a miniguide for good reason. The book’s 3-1/2" x 5" mini-format allows it to fit neatly into one’s shirt pocket.

QS-9000 is an automotive industry quality assurance standard that builds upon the international ISO-9000 quality assurance standard with the addition of 77 extra subsections and more than 90 additional requirements that increase focus upon product robustness, process capability, cost control and continuous improvement.

This miniguide delivers a layperson’s interpretation of the QS?±9000 standard, in particular the ISO-9000 based requirement. Along with answering some frequently asked basic questions, the book overviews specific reference manuals required if certifying to the QS-9000 standard.

This book offers good value for the money to those embarking on a quality assurance program and interprets the standard far better than the original ISO document — at a fraction of the cost.

Title: Feedback Toolkit — 16 Tools for Better Communication in the Workplace
Classification: General interest, management
Author: Rick Maurer
Publisher: Productivity Press Inc.
ISBN #: 1-56327-056-0
Price: US $12
Year: 1994
Index: No
Bibliography: Yes
Review: Very often, first line management and middle management are recruited and promoted directly from the "hands on" workforce. Many management positions are offered as a result of seniority, and without benefit of any formal management training, the new manager is often ill-equipped to manage effectively.

Good managers know the key to successfully managing people and situations is through understanding and exercising effective communication skills. In his Feedback Toolkit book, Rick Maurer has compiled a very easy to read set of communication guidelines. The book is broken down into three parts: part 1 examines communication feedback in general terms and prepares the reader for parts 2 and 3 which describe 16 communication techniques on giving feedback and receiving feedback.

As a resource for both teams and individuals, managers and work-staff alike, this book is an excellent addition to any maintenance department or personal library.