After a seven-week business trip covering thousands of miles across Asia and Australasia, Mr Loadlink is back on home soil.

When I’m centre stage at karaoke night in a pub in Chichester, not far from my home in the UK, belting out George Benson’s classic “Give Me the Night”, those lucky—or unlucky—enough to be in attendance can pretty much see all the elements involved in my performance. There might be a spotlight, screen with words on it and a backing track.

At the other extreme of live entertainment, the stages of summer festivals and world-class venues not only dazzle with lighting, sets and special effects that unfold before the audience’s eyes, an incredible amount of rigging is behind the scenes making sure everything is safely held in place or moved in time with the performance. I suppose shows are like icebergs in that sense.

I was aware of this to some extent already but it was an eye-opening and awe-inspiring experience to attend the Live Entertainment & Event Expo, which took place earlier this month at the Makuhari Messe during my trip to Japan—the home of karaoke! Distributor RUD Lifting Japan Co. Ltd. unveiled our new wireless load shackle to a show that attracted thousands of attendees from the entertainment industry.

As I told trade media recently, we were very keen to use the Live Entertainment & Event Expo to highlight the key features of the product and visitors were quick to identify how the load shackle could enhance safety and efficiency in their applications. The enquiries we have received are for multiple units and we anticipate that being typical as the product gains increased recognition. More on that in a minute.

Five-star performance

I took an opportunity to walk the aisles of the Makuhari Messe and get an appreciation of the true size and scale of the entertainment industry. Chain hoists, truss systems, rigging, wires, cables, lights, speakers, special effects, catering facilities and more go into even one night of a performance sometimes. Imagine the potential that creates for us on a yearly, global basis.

It reinforced my belief that Straightpoint can become a significant supplier of load cell technology to the entertainment business, which probably offers even more opportunities than I realised. RUD Lifting Japan did a fantastic job of launching the new wireless load shackle and I am tremendously excited about its potential based on the feedback we received.

As I said, it is a sector that consumes multiple units. Where an industrial application might have one load cell monitoring a load test, for example, a theatre or event production might need 20 load cells on a truss system that moves during a performance in time with music and special effects. Our software lends itself to that activity; we give clients the ability to display up to 100 load cells on one screen complete with load data and alarm systems.

From a business standpoint it is a sector that should also provide steady growth and some immunity to the cyclical nature of other industries, typified by the cost cuts we’re seeing in the oil and gas market, impacted by the low oil prices. Theatre districts across the world—and it’s certainly true of the West End in London—have even thrived during the recent recession and larger productions rarely compensate on the impact of their shows.

The trip to Japan concluded a long but very rewarding business trip, the final stages of which saw me travel from Singapore to Australia, where I spent some valuable time with our distributor Australian Calibrating Services (ACS) in Melbourne. The state of Victoria can have cool winters though and one of my memories of the trip is how cold I was with a suitcase full of Straightpoint polo shirts and no warm clothing!

A great adaptation

I came back to my desk to find a mountain of parcels and letters that had built up over the past seven weeks. Once I could see my keyboard and screen again, the biggest challenge was adapting to my desktop computer having been working from a MacBook on the road.

Travelling the world and meeting our partners will always be the most enjoyable and rewarding part of this job, but it was great to be back amongst the brilliant team at Havant HQ and deal face-to-face with people who have been on the other end of a telephone or the other side of a computer screen for the last couple of months.

One has to accept in such situations that it isn’t going to be a seamless transition back into the office lifestyle. I needed to catch up and that became easier once I had accepted that it wasn’t going to be something I could achieve in the first couple of days back.

The whiteboard came in very handy in planning how to make the first week as efficient as possible. It was also a useful tool in collating all the notes I had made whilst on the road and presenting them to the team. It was satisfying to share the questions that had been put to me at trade shows and meetings, whilst putting into context that everything we do in the office impacts the way we are perceived by distributors and users in the marketplace.

The audience were uplifted

It is important that one of those perceptions is that we are successful in engaging our audiences wherever in the world they work. To that end we are increasing the amount of material we publish in foreign languages. Last year we produced multilingual product manuals in 10 languages and we received followup requests for French and Spanish catalogues.

The French material allows us to better penetrate certain African markets that are French-speaking while John Molidor, who oversees our North American subsidiary, is very keen to distribute Spanish literature to some South American markets that are showing increased interest in our weighing and force measurement product range.

We will consider translating content into other languages and we would urge our partners and distributors to contact us if they feel they could be more efficient with information in the local language of their customers. I know RUD Lifting Japan frequently translates content and visitors to the Live Entertainment & Event Expo certainly appreciated that.

Thank you for reading. Keep following us on Twitter—@LoadCell

Mr Loadlink