In the lead-up to JEC World, The Leading International Composites Show in Paris this April, AZoM spoke with the director of JEC Group, Mr. Eric Pierrejean, about the organization's drivers and the upcoming show itself.
Please can you introduce yourself and your role as CEO of JEC Group?
As the president of JEC Group, I am managing with our leadership team a group of diverse, talented, and international people with skills in sales, marketing & communication, innovation sourcing, content production, and events operations to achieve JEC's mission. We share the same vision about composite materials and their applications, which will continue to open up exciting new horizons for human activities, improving people’s lives and leading to a better, more sustainable world.
We are enthusiastic about the future of composites in many countries around the world and in countless applications, including new markets yet to emerge. We are committed to enabling the realization of this bright future.
What are the ambitions of the JEC Group as an organization?
Founded 60 years ago, the JEC Group is a non-profit organization fully and entirely dedicated to the composite materials industry, promoting composite materials and fostering the development of their applications globally. JEC is promoting all kinds of composite materials and applications, covering all markets and countries worldwide.
We believe that knowledge sharing within and beyond the composite materials community develops collective intelligence and creativity and contributes to broader and faster adoption of composites. Therefore, we develop a full range of media, publications, market research, and digital content to enable this. Initiated in 1963 with the foundation of JEC, the JEC Composites magazine has become, over time, the world’s leading magazine dedicated to composite materials, their technologies, and application sectors.
We know that activating a global community from the business, manufacturing, research & academic worlds and enabling networking is a catalyst for new ideas and creates growth opportunities. This is what animates the community, and we organize events to foster this, in particular JEC World.
Image Credit: JEC Group
Finally, we believe that celebrating innovation, teamwork, and entrepreneurship inspires the whole community to tackle new challenges and imagine, design, and achieve new projects for the benefit of the industry. This is why 25 years ago we introduced the JEC Composites Innovation Awards, the most sought-after and most prestigious awards in the field of composites. With the development of startups, we launched in 2017 the JEC Composites Startup Booster, which within five years has become the leading startup competition in the world of Composites and Advanced Materials.
Why should people pay attention to advances in composite materials?
Composite materials deliver exceptional performance and benefits over traditional materials such as steel, aluminum, wood, or concrete:
- Unrivaled lightness and exceptional strength-to-weight ratio.
- Resistance to corrosion, chemicals, impact, vibrations, and UV rays
- Fire withstanding, thermal insulation, waterproofing
- Durability, stability, and mechanical properties
- Non-magnetic, electrostatic, and electromagnetic properties
- Design, shape, and surfacing freedom.
- On-site, on-demand production, maintenance, and repair
These properties and benefits have allowed composites to penetrate many industries. But one key element, especially nowadays, is the fact that composites are the materials of choice to decarbonate the economy and develop more sustainable solutions. Being lighter, stronger, smarter, resilient, and resistant, they also last longer and open up limitless possibilities.
Image Credit: JEC Group
On top of the technical properties mentioned above, composites also offer:
- Almost unlimited possible dimensions, geometry, and shapes.
- A wide range of finishes, customized outlook, and surfacing technologies.
- Stiffness, directional strength, and stability offer outstanding mechanical properties.
- Exceptional longevity and reduced material fatigue.
- Lower installation/shipping costs and application on existing structures
- On-demand production, allowing Investment production and inventory optimization.
- Lower maintenance and better lifecycle management thanks to non-destructive testing technologies and embedded sensors
- Integration of multiple functions in one part, thus allowing consolidation of parts and a low part count configuration
- In-material embedding of sensors, connectors, wirings, and lights
- Pests and termite resistance for housing and utility applications
- Noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) reduction properties, especially in transportation and mobility applications
When was the JEC World Trade Show launched, and what does it aim to achieve?
JEC World started in 1965 to become the world’s leading annual industry event gathering the whole value chain of composites, but also attracting many visitors from different application sectors looking for inspiration and innovative solutions. We have two dedicated areas, the Innovation Planets for mobility and industry sectors, making the show a real “festival of composites.” So, what makes the event unique is not only that we are the leading trade show of the composites industry but also that we offer a unique opportunity for people outside the industry to learn more about composites and discover what they can achieve.
Could you provide some examples of the industrial sectors that are represented at the show?
JEC is gathering the whole value chain of composites, from raw materials and production (reinforcement fibers, resin matrices, additives...) to manufacturing equipment and the tools that enable the numerous different production processes, from manual to highly automated and robotized, including 3D printing and tailored fiber placement. The show also involves all the digital tools for simulation, design, programming, testing, and monitoring. Finally, the exhibition is also presenting the industry integrators, producing parts and components for more than 15 applications sectors, including:
- Energy: oil & gas, wind turbines, solar, tidal, and geothermal installations
- Electrical & Electronics: devices, appliances, utilities, telecommunications
- Marine: ships, vessels, onshore & offshore equipment
- Consumer goods: sports & leisure, design, furniture & home equipment
- Transportation: automotive, trucks, buses, trams, railways
- Aerospace: aircraft, drones, space launchers, and satellites
- Construction & Infrastructures: building, housing, civil engineering, water treatment
- Medical: diagnosis, surgical and dental instruments & implants, prosthetics
Image Credit: JEC Group
How fast-moving is the composites industry, and how has it evolved in the years since the show began?
As shown in the JEC Observer annual data, the industry has grown from less than 200 000 tons to more than 12 700 000 tons in 2022, at a CAGR of 8% during the 1960 to 2010 timeframe. The industry is growing faster than the rest of the application industries due to increased adoption in many sectors (see the latest 2023 JEC Observer charts). The COVID-19 crisis losses have already been recompensated.
The JEC World trade show will also host a program of keynote sessions, product presentations, and panel discussions. Could you describe in further detail what attendees of the show can expect from this program?
The main motto of the event is “Composites for a Sustainable World,” and this is not only the case for the conference program but also a major topic in the industry, as many exhibitors will present it. We even have a startup category and a JEC Composites Innovation ward on this theme.
We plan to cover all aspects of sustainability within the value chain with four conferences: new bio-based materials, light-weighting, the 4 R’s (recycling, reusing, repurposing, repairing) but also under the title “less is better,” all initiatives to reduce waste, costs, energy and time for more sustainable manufacturing.
This is not limited to sustainability within the value chain; we’ll also present what composites can offer to match the requirements of the decarbonization of the ground transportation sector, of the next-generation aircraft, and the solutions for more sustainable building and construction.
Attendees will certainly get from this program and from their show visit an in-depth understanding of the major contribution of composites to a more sustainable world with both current applications (in renewable energy, for example) as well as future applications (as part of hydrogen-powered mobility, for example).
Sign Up for JEC World Here
Why should designers and R&D engineers visit JEC World in particular?
For designers and R&D engineers, this is a unique opportunity to be in one place.
The whole value chain of composites, all matrices and fibers, additives, and supplies from companies of all sizes, from startups to major players, are represented at the show. Further, all manufacturing processes are represented, from manual to fully robotized, including 3D printing. Simulation, testing, and monitoring solutions from numerous countries and regions will also be demonstrated.
Of course, engineers and R&D specialists will have a great experience at the event, but the audience of JEC World is going far beyond this core target group.
The event is also for corporations, presenting their products and services but also their strategic orientations and their vision. They can address the press, analysts, and investors who are also visiting the show. They can make deals and partnerships and gather their global network, their distributors, agents, etc.
Image Credit: JEC Group
The event is also a mirror of the market and of its trends. In a way, it is a market research study in 3D; it is the landscape of the industry. This panorama is also showing the dynamics of the market and of the exhibitors.
At JEC world, considering the various countries and regional pavilions, it is for them an opportunity to present their industry but also to attract companies, startups, and investors. If a local composites network is strong, it’s a more favorable ecosystem to grow because composites development and production needs partners. This is marking the success of the so-called composites clusters.
JEC World is also a human resources platform. You get the best experts together so HR teams can connect and recruit young talent and experts, and universities and academics can connect with students as well as with companies to collaborate on research and training projects.
Why do you believe in-person trade shows and conferences are significant to knowledge transfer in this field?
This is not only a belief that we have had for many decades, it has also been confirmed during the pandemic. Our participants have all stated that digital and video interactions have not been able to replace face-to-face interaction to do business and to see, touch and discover materials and products. They are also essential to knowing and trusting each other and also to exchanging ideas and working together.
This is especially the case in the composites industry, where teamwork and collaborative projects are the main way to achieve great things. This is why the first session after the pandemic, in May 2022, has been so successful, and this is why the 2023 session with the comeback of India, China, and Asia-Pacific countries is expected to be amazing, with the world of composites finally back together.
How do you anticipate the show will continue to grow and evolve in the years to come?
We are confident that the industry will bring many more innovations in the years to come, from the top to the bottom of the value chain. Even the current virgin fiber production processes are being challenged to find more frugal, energy-saving, CO2-reducing processes. Using overall fewer materials and energy, making the initial processes better to avoid scrap, recycling materials, and developing full circular ecosystems are going to be key achievements. Another big field is the data & intelligence area, which is an invisible (compared to materials, tooling, and equipment) but incredibly important part of the industry that is going to be more and more important at the show.
The definition of composites is open, not restrictive, and therefore the show will continue to integrate the new matrices, fibers, processes, and digitalization.
We also see the show becoming more and more “glocal,” i.e., with a global attendance and a global audience but with the opportunity also to highlight local, national, and regional ecosystems. This is why we already have many country and/or regional pavilions, enabling smaller companies to be at JEC World in parallel to the major players of the industry. This is also the move we made several years ago to integrate a strong presence of startups at the event. They get global visibility on this stage, especially if they are among the finalists of JEC Startup Booster, and they demonstrate every day that investing time and money in so-called “deep tech” makes sense and can offer growth potential.
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About Mr. Eric Pierrejean
Eric Pierrejean, an HEC business school graduate, joined JEC Group in 2018 as President. From 2011 to 2017, he directed one of the Comexposium Group’s three divisions, including various formats of trade fairs, conferences and one-to-one business meetings, in France and at international level, in areas such as transport, construction, equipment and automotive services, packaging and handling, physical and computer security, digital technology and retail. Finally, since 2015, he was also responsible for the organization of the International Agricultural Show. Prior to this, Eric Pierrejean spent much of his career in sales and marketing positions. He has spent more than 15 years in the automotive sector. He was Marketing Director of BMW, Rover / Land Rover and MG & Mini brands in France, then Director of BMW Group’s Event Marketing Department in Germany. There, he was responsible for BMW Group’s central network conventions and all world trade shows for BMW, Mini and Rolls Royce. He also has extensive experience in the field of sports and communication, through his past positions at TAG Heuer watchmaker and as France Marketing and Communication Director of Nike sports equipment manufacturer.
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