Full speech of Johan de Coster

Opening Address by Johan De Coster, Chairman of BEMAS and honorary president of the EFNMS.


Ladies & gentlemen, dear colleagues and friends,

I am very pleased to welcome you at the European Maintenance Manager Award night.

I once heard someone say that the only person who likes change is a baby with a wet diaper. Change is such an extraordinary, sometimes uncomfortable thing, isn’t it? So many of us crave it but fiercely resist it, fueling an ever-escalating inner civil war.

Change can imply fear, uncertainty, and doubt. It is an emotional experience that is too often approached with negativity, ignoring the positive growth that it sets free.
When we embrace change our decision making becomes clearer and we become stronger.

Disruptive changes exist since the beginning of times. Remember the first wheel being used for transport.

Our maintenance world is also subject to the fast-technical evolution. What jumps into your mind when hearing the word ‘technology’? Do you think of electrical motors, compressors or other production equipment? Or do smartphones and machine-learning algorithms pop up before your eyes?

When economists announce that ‘technology stocks are down’, we all know it is about Apple, Microsoft or Facebook. – So, with our limited scope of attention, technology has been implicitly restricted to software and objects with pixels and a backlight. And, being new and exciting, these things get our attention, while all other technology fades into the patterns of everyday life.  For many years this has been the unfortunate case for the industrial assets.

With the arrival of the internet of things and the 4thindustrial revolution, industrial assets are put in the technology spotlights again. Working in the world of “industrial things” used to be unnoticed and uninteresting, but – thanks to digitization – has become “cool” again.

That is only one of many reasons why we need to embrace this digital transformation and grab the opportunities it creates in our profession. And precisely therefore I am proud we have succeeded in organizing this very well attended Euromaintenance 4.0.

Organizing a convention like this would not be possible without the support of our sponsors. As the list is quite impressive and my time on this stage very limited, I prefer not to mention them individually, but invite you to have a thorough look at the 28 logos on the banner next to me. Dear sponsors, we are very grateful for your cooperation and support.

The Euromaintenance conference is organized every 2 years and is patronaged by the EFNMS. We are very proud that BEMAS, the Belgian Maintenance Association, got the opportunity to invite you this year. In order to widen our world as much as possible we have teamed up with the US association Reliabilityweb. Thank you Terry, Maura and your team for the fruitful collaboration.

Last but not least, I want to thank EASA for the support, and the Salvetti Foundation for taking the initiative to organize the contest of the European Maintenance Manager Award.

I wish you all a very inspiring and nice evening. Thank you for participating. Together we make the future in maintenance, reliability and asset management!