Ross Moloney reveals all you need to know ahead of this year’s LiftEx exhibition

LiftEx is one of the most anticipated exhibitions and social events of the year for individuals across several industries. It is the ultimate event for all things lifting, from product demos and displays to educational workshops and opportunities to network. This year’s LiftEx will see Liverpool’s Exhibition Centre host around 80 exhibitors for the two-day event on the 21st and 22nd of November.

Brought to you by the Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA), LiftEx is an event sure to wow record numbers of attendees. LEEA is a not-for-profit, global trade association that looks after the lifting equipment industry with a vision to ensure safety and consistently improve standards.

“I’m often found talking about lifting equipment, so I’ll start by addressing the most frequently asked question – what exactly is lifting equipment?” begins Ross, CEO of LEEA. “To put it simply, it is the tool that facilitates things going up and down, as well as horizontally. The industry has hugely evolved over the years, with the use of cutting-edge technologies and constant innovation facilitating the development of equipment that is unbelievably strong, yet super lightweight.

“Lifting equipment is a niche industry that is fundamental to numerous other industries,” he continues. “In fact, it’s hard to think of a sector that doesn’t require the function of lifting in some capacity. Specifically, we work with 13 core sectors, ranging from engineering and manufacturing to entertainment and energy.

“Energy is a particularly interesting field for us and most of our members are inextricably linked to energy supply chains. Lifting equipment is necessary for both fossil fuel energies and renewables, with the offshore sector recently becoming an ever-growing area of focus.

“It’s a key market for us because we don’t have to convince companies in the energy sector of LEEA’s importance. They often naturally share our values, particularly when it comes to sustainability, health and safety, and overall best practice, which means they appreciate the value LEEA brings to the industry.”

As a specialist area that plays a fundamental role in several businesses, LEEA is a popular organization with a growing membership of over 1200 professionals. “Many of our members work in high risk, dangerous environments, and our job is to mitigate that risk,” Ross explains. “In other words, our goal is to eliminate accidents relating to lifting equipment.

“We must consider two elements: maintaining standards so that equipment doesn’t fail, but also ensuring the correct use of equipment. The first aspect is much easier, as we work with manufacturers to make sure they’re up to standard, or even exceed them. Our examiners are the best in the industry, and, as most of them come from a manufacturing background, they boast the competence and expertise to see the process from both sides.

“However, most accidents relating to lifting equipment in recent times are less likely to be caused by failing equipment, but typically due to the misuse of equipment,” he reveals. “This part is much harder to tackle, and you’d be surprised how many people don’t even realize they’re working with lifting equipment day in, day out.”

LEEA typically generates business through three main avenues: membership services, training and education, and supporting governmental bodies to create policy. “Our goal is to be an exclusive, esteemed association,” Ross proposes. “We’re not trying to be an expensive organization, but instead an impactful one. We do technical based audits for potential members and support those who don’t initially pass the audit to become part of the association if it’s mutually beneficial.

“Alongside membership, we provide extensive market-leading training for those who use lifting equipment. We’ve invested significantly in our training materials to encourage better engagement, whether they’re delivered online or face-to-face at the customer’s site or at our Centre of Excellence in Huntingdon, England.

“Lastly, we carry out traditional activities too. To be clear, we don’t lobby government, but instead support government and its agencies to improve policy. We like to think we’re a well-respected voice in the arena. In recent months, for example, we helped the UK Government to understand the practicalities and requirements of marking.

“We’re becoming more active around the globe, conducting lots of events and other market awareness activities. Australia, Trinidad, and the Middle East are key emerging marketplaces for us with enormous potential, especially in the sectors of oil, gas, and exploration. We’ve recently strengthened our presence in Australia with a full-time employee now based there to support our growth in Australia and New Zealand.

“We maintain a vibrant network across the global lifting equipment industry and we’re always keen to welcome new members,” he adds. “We’re currently in the process of licensing our trainers to other providers, so that we can share our knowledge and expertise with others in the industry.

“Training is particularly important in our current climate, as the big topic everyone is talking about is where the next generation of workforce is coming from. Skills shortages are impacting several industries, and engineering, the category under which we fall, is no exception.

“We’re working on various schemes to encourage entry into the industry, such as developing apprenticeship schemes, supporting those leaving the military, and maintaining good relationships with local schools.”

Turning to the exhibition specifically, Ross elaborates: “LiftEx is a chance for all our members to get together, share ideas, and build extensive networks. It’s an unparalleled opportunity to engage with the UK’s lifting equipment industry, whether manufacturers or distributors of equipment.”

CoreRFID, the headline sponsor, provides Lift Inspection Software and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology, and overall, exhibitors will include a broad array of lifting equipment solutions from the likes of Atlas Winch & Hoist Services, Cromax, and George Taylor Lifting, to name just a few. Chains, ropes, and accessories will also be featured, as well as slings and rigging tools, height safety equipment, load monitoring systems, and IT solutions.

“While there’ll be traditional exhibition activities on offer, like product demos and education, we’ve also allocated plenty of time for our members to socialize,” Ross explains. “LEEA members are united by a determination to improve the industry and enhance safety; everyone puts their commercial differences aside and comes together as a unified association. For the night before the exhibition, we’ve organized a reception at Liverpool FC’s Anfield Stadium with former players joining us too.

“The middle evening is the LEEA Awards, a prestigious event exclusively for our members, where we recognize and celebrate excellence,” Ross details. “There are ten awards, five for individuals and five for teams, spread across several categories like innovation, safety, sustainability, training, and personal development. We’ll have around 300 guests at the Rum Warehouse for a ceremony hosted by Jason Manford – it’s sure to be the best night out in Liverpool!”

From speaking with Ross, it’s clear to see his genuine enthusiasm for the industry and the passion he has for running exhibitions like LiftEx. Under his leadership, LEEA continues to put its members at the forefront of its operations and deliver successful events that have an industry-wide impact.

“The beauty is that we’re the specialists, meaning that attendees and customers can be confident that they are buying the best product on the market,” Ross concludes. “I can almost guarantee that attending the event in November will make a company’s day-to-day operations significantly safer and more efficient.”

Ross Moloney