An exchange of information and ideas usually thrives from lively discussion – both in the plenum and after the presentations, but also in personal conversations during the event. So how could this lively dialogue be facilitated in a virtual format? This was the big question facing the organisers ahead of the Technical Advisory Group meetings, after it had been decided in October that the meetings would have to be held digitally because of the pandemic situation.
In all the Technical Advisory Group sessions, a considerable amount of attention was paid to the discussion rounds in the plenum by Zoom conferencing. The discussions followed on immediately from the presentations given on the various areas of research, and provided an opportunity for the delegates to put questions to the speakers in the group chat or directly, and to participate in a discussion. It was gratifying to see that particularly lively use was made of this possibility in the sessions on polyurethane technology and additive manufacturing. A further communications highlight, which had already received a positive response at the “Digitisation in plastics processing” symposium at the beginning of November, was provided by the injection moulding session: Additional virtual rooms were created, in which the participants were able, between the lecture sessions, to discuss specific topics according to their particular interests. The available subjects were Industry 4.0, hybrid technology and process simulation. The smaller number of participants at these “breakout sessions” allowed a more personal form of discussion. This format will probably also be applied at future events.
We would like to thank all those who participated in the event and especially the moderators of the Technical Advisory Group meetings for their willingness to support us with their expertise and with their feedback. According to the present plans, the next Technical Advisory Group meetings will – in the normal format again – be held from 8-10 November 2021 in the SuperC in Aachen.