Managing Virtual Events

The below is an extract taken from the August edition of the Surface Coatings International (SCI) Journal.

To read more please click here

By Ann-Marie Etherington & Laura Merritt

OCCA has long been a member of the Science Council, a membership organisation for professional bodies and learned societies across science, bringing together a range of disciplines and sectors to reflect the multi-disciplinary practice of science in today’s society. On 7th May, the Science Council’s Event Managers Network held an online meeting to discuss issues relating to holding virtual conferences and events. At this time, OCCA had already postponed its AGM, cancelled its seminars and rescheduled the Surfex exhibition for 20-21 October 2020.

The hot topic of conversation was which online platforms were people testing and using to deliver their societies activities. Amongst the platforms being used by participants of the meeting were Zoom, GoToWebinar and Livestorm. The preferred choice for an event depended how the strengths and weaknesses of a platform met the needs of the event, for example, would voting be required? Was there a need for interactive questions and answers, downloadable content, live and recorded sessions? One clear message was that no one could sit for an entire day ‘attending’ a full day online conference. Some success was gained by separating presentations and discussions and limiting to 1.5-hour sessions mixed with interactive sessions.

One of the societies represented had already held a virtual AGM and their experience is being reviewed by OCCA council. The selection of a suitable platform to allow voting, presenting of information, viewing of documentation and affording the opportunity to ask questions was successfully met. This certainly provides OCCA with a possible solution to holding an AGM this year in a safe manner. All the societies rely on event activities to raise funds. Discounts for online conferences were considered a good solution to encouraging attendance, since money was saved by not hiring venues. Free taster sessions were also being considered to entice attendees, with the opportunity to pay to download recorded webinars and review at a convenient time. ‘Free’ events were a great way to attract new members, provided that the events did not cause long-term damage to future income streams.

Conference dinners could also be held online, using delivery services to supply dinner and beverages. Would society members be interested in seeing their industry colleagues eat dinner? No one seemed convinced. However, trials of online OCCA quiz nights with a favourite beverage have proven to be successful and plans are being rolled out to include all members.

A number of difficulties in attending online events were highlighted in the meeting including company security blocking websites and Apps, poor access to broadband and even insufficient bandwidth perhaps due to competition with home schooling. The necessity of a Host, Moderator and IT Support for Online sessions were deemed essential for the smooth running of online sessions. Also, it was recommended that attendance should be ‘by invite’ only, ensuring events were not wrecked by malicious people.

There are plans to hold a follow-up Event Managers Network meeting to share experiences, successes and failures when more virtual events have been held. OCCA has successfully held several online Council meetings, social networking events, quiz nights and weekly webinars. There are further plans to move our seminars to online webinars and hold our first virtual AGM, to be combined with a social event. We have been truly inspired by our Science Council colleagues.

SCI Technical Paper: Novel Oil-Modified Acrylic Multi-Domain Dispersions for Wood Coatings

The below is an extract taken from the August edition of the Surface Coatings International (SCI) Journal.

To read more please click here

By Andreas J. Steiner, ALLNEX Austria GmbH, Austria

  1. Lunzer, T. Vanheertum, T. Kittler, L. Sterckx, K. Gariepy


Abstract: Waterborne acrylic dispersions and alkyd emulsions have been extensively used for architectural coatings for decades, each technology having its advantages and drawbacks. While alkyd emulsions generally exhibit very good application characteristics, such as high gloss and good penetration, they lack in performance for weathering resistance. Acrylic dispersions, conversely, are disadvantaged in terms of flow, levelling and appearance, but perform well for outdoor durability. Many attempts have been undertaken to find the balance of performance by hybrid technology approaches. The presented work highlights a novel synthetic approach to oil-modified acrylic multi-domain dispersions combining acrylic-like outdoor durability with alkyd-like appearance and application properties.

For Full Technical Paper – See SCI Volume 103.3 May-June 2020

SCI Technical Paper: The prospects for antiviral coatings

The below is an extract taken from the August edition of the Surface Coatings International (SCI) Journal.

To read more please click here

By Peter Collins (Peter Collins Coatings Consultancy) & Richard Kennedy (Editor of Surface Coatings International)

Introduction: The current COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic effect on societies worldwide. Within a matter of weeks, normal day to-day life changed to something more akin to a horror film as many nations introduced draconian measures in order to reduce the spread of the virus and prevent the numbers of patients requiring hospital treatment overwhelming their intensive care facilities. In light of the perceived high infectivity of the virus, members of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Surface Coatings Special Interest Group, in collaboration with the British Coatings Federation, organised a virtual gathering of more than 130 academics, industry specialists and representatives of healthcare and transport organisations to share knowledge about antiviral coatings and express views on what needs to be done to accelerate research output in this field. One of the aims of the meeting was to review hygienic coatings technology and its prospects for fighting viruses.

For Full Technical Paper – See SCI Volume 103.3 May-June 2020

Industry responses to the COVID-19 pandemic

The below is an extract taken from the August edition of the Surface Coatings International (SCI) Journal.

To read more please click here

‘May you live in interesting times’ by Paul Sheppard

OCCA President Elect & Laboratory Manager HMG Paints


The phrase ‘may you live in interesting times’ was thought to be a translation of a Chinese curse (attributed by Sir Austen Chamberlain in 1936), but the reality is, like this cursed virus, the origin is not really known. When everything is weighed and sifted, much of the coatings industry (and its raw material suppliers) has managed well to stay operational over the last few months, albeit with considerable numbers of people working from home and some that have been furloughed.

The strength of any organisation can only truly be assessed during times of crisis. Many of our members have kept working during the pandemic to ensure manufacturing and supply of paints, coatings and chemicals have continued to contribute to the fight against the Covid-19 virus. During these difficult times OCCA has shown itself to be responsive and supportive to the needs of our members.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic and the start of our ‘national lockdown’, we here at OCCA HQ have been busy adapting to new ways of working and communicating as an Association. Not only have we had to re-think working practices in terms of Council and Executive meetings, and the rescheduling of Surfex from June to October, but we also have a responsibility to continue to engage with our members, sponsors and academic partners both now and moving forward. We thought we would share some of our thoughts on the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.

In this special feature, we intend to focus on how the pandemic has been impacting on our members, our sponsors from Industry and Academia, our Professional Association partners and the Coatings Industry in general. We have showcased the many ways in which companies and universities have generously supported the fight against the virus. We should also not forget the role of chemicals and coatings in the fight, from painting the Nightingale hospitals to the supply of alcohol for the production of hand sanitiser products.

At the same time, we cannot ignore the scores of members and their families who have been involved on a very personal level in the massive volunteering effort that has been witnessed throughout our local communities and, indeed, in many countries around the world. From our NHS volunteers, assisting with preparation and delivery of food parcels to vulnerable families and members of local communities, to offering telephone befriending services for lonely and elderly people, to delivery of NHS prescriptions and help with taking patients to and from appointments. The efforts of our many ‘community heroes’ is something we should be extremely proud of.

For OCCA, the past two months have presented many challenges, which have taught us many new skills, particularly with regards to the use of digital video conferencing platforms and communication with members and colleagues alike.

Council representatives recently attended a Zoom session organised by the British Science Council, examining the impact of the ‘new normal’ on the organising of conferences, exhibitions and seminars – which are the ‘mainstay’ in terms of income-generating streams for many of our Professional Associations. It was interesting to learn about the impact of the pandemic on scientific organisations. We will be watching and reporting on this in the weeks and months ahead.

In May we joined forces with “Campaign for Learning” as they launched their annual “Learning at Work” Week. This prompted us to consider how best to engage with members and provide more opportunities for professional and social networking for members around the world. As a result, our “OCCA Weekly Webinar” series was launched. Designed to run for an initial period of 10 weeks, we are hosting 10 guest speakers, typically using the Zoom webinar platform for one hour on a Wednesday afternoon: each speaker will deliver a 30-40 minute presentation followed by a ‘live’ Q&A session. All details of our planned series are published on our website and have also been promoted by our newly revitalised social media platforms, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This series is available free to members, Corporate Sponsors, staff and students at our Educational Partners and is already proving to be very popular.

Our Annual General Meeting, scheduled to be held at Emirates Old Trafford in July to coincide with the Lancashire Lightning’s T20 Blast match against the Worcestershire Rapids, has had to be cancelled. We are planning to host our AGM online in September and will have a charity fundraiser for one of the many Covid-19 charities as an integral part of this year’s meeting.

Aside from educational and operational issues, we must also acknowledge the importance of the mental wellbeing of our members and colleagues – many of whom are self-isolating or shielding. To this end, we have initiated a fortnightly ‘social night’ on Zoom for our members and friends. We are also planning several other interactive social activities throughout the summer months. All details will be published on our website and across the social platforms, so please watch out for those.

As you can see, the past two months have been an exceptionally busy time for everyone here at OCCA HQ. We have embraced the challenges with gusto and are extremely optimistic that, by engaging in such an interactive way with members and non-members alike, we are providing an effective service that will educate, entertain and provide a supportive network for the paints and coatings industry.

OCCA & Surface Coatings International

The below is an extract taken from the August edition of the Surface Coatings International (SCI) Journal.

To read more please click here

Surface Coatings International (SCI) Journal is the main publication by OCCA. Issued 6 times per year it is filled with technical papers, industry news, regulatory updates and regional activity reports. SCI has a new editor, Dr Richard Kennedy, and publishing team. The latest issue of SCI was released in mid-July and focuses on Covid-19 and how it has affected our members and industry.

OCCA members receive the journal as a benefit of membership. To join OCCA or to subscribe to SCI, please contact admin@occa.org.uk

OCCA members can choose to ‘opt out’ of paper copies and switch to receiving issues in digital format. By logging into the members’ area on the OCCA website (www.occa.org.uk) you can access current and past issues of the journal.

SCI current articles include

  • Fighting the Covid-19 Outbreak: Surface Science & Coatings by Professor Stuart Clarke, Department of Chemistry and BP Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  • Nine pages of industry news including Industry Moves, Distribution & Supply, Manufacturing, Technology, Equipment & Testing, Raw Materials, Formulations and Appointments.
  • ‘May you live in interesting times’ by Paul Sheppard, OCCA President Elect & Laboratory Manager HMG Paints
  • Industry responses to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The financial impact of COVID-19 on the coatings industry: Q1 2020
  • Technical Paper: Novel Oil-Modified Acrylic Multi-Domain Dispersions for Wood Coatings
  • SHE Information
  • Technical Paper: The prospects for antiviral coatings
  • OCCA Association News
  • International Coatings Calendar


Surface Coatings International journal is always interested in suitable technical papers. Details of papers to be submitted should be outlined in an email addressed to editorial@occa.org.uk.