The 2019 AHR Expo returned to Atlanta for the first time since 2001. The Show floor at the Georgia World Congress Center exhibited 1,824 companies from across the industry, including 497 international exhibitors of technology and products.
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology verified attendance, allowing for the scanning in of each person without stalling the crowd and creating long wait times. This means that the Show, held Jan. 14-16, was able to generate a true capture of every attendee who walked through the door and spent time on the exhibitor floor and in education sessions. In previous years the Show relied on pre-registration and on-site registration to quantify attendance. The total verified attendance this year: 45,078.
“The planning of the Show has always been focused on creating the best experience for our exhibitors and attendees. We recognized the benefit of verifying attendees long before the technology allowed us to do it in a way that didn’t interrupt the experience we wanted to create for those who travel to be here,” said Mark Stevens, show manager of AHR Expo. “We want our attendees and exhibitors networking, capturing leads, learning, interacting and focused on their day rather than waiting at the gate to be scanned in. The new verified technology allows us to do just that.”
The education program covered a broad range of topics in depth, providing insights for all AHR stakeholders into market trends, tips to building a business, energy savings, as well as industry best practices. Following, some highlights.
Smart Home Technology
Research unveiled at AHR Expo pinpointed the best course forward for smart home technology deployments. The upshot: multi-dwelling units (MDUs) remain underserved due to the varieties of end-user requirements. At the same time, they sit at the intersection of the single family—who benefits most from smart home innovation—and commercial buildings, sharing characteristics of each. Importantly, MDUs have the size to invest in new technology, a stronger connection to resident satisfaction and more direct involvement of senior management for investment decisions. This makes MDUs the sweet spot where smart home innovation and experimentation can take root, said the presenter, Continental Automated Buildings Association.
A strong call to action kicked off this session, underscored by a roll call of blue-chip companies suffering billions in losses due to data breaches, including the $520 million Target breach famously caused by a compromised HVAC subcontractor’s PC and login credential. Attendees learned a step by step plan for developing a strong cybersecurity defense. Recommended best practices: separating network traffic for automation and control systems (ACS) from the internet and other operations; communications encryption and two-factor authentication for remote access; role-based access control limiting where people can go in the network; and integrating security and information and event management (SIEM) systems to help detect attacks as they happen before damage is done. The presenter was Schneider Electric.
Contractors Grow Sales by Saving Customers Money
This tutorial case study explained how to deliver energy savings, and sell additional services, by expanding balancing tests and remediation services. The highly detailed presentation showed how adding inexpensive tests provided additional diagnostics information that can help identify problems and create opportunities to sell correctional services. The results can improve actual system performance from 50% to 85% of rated and deliver valuable energy savings, said presenter Schneider Electric.
The policy impact on driving markets to replace high global-warming potential (GWP) HFCs cannot be overstated. In the European Union, for example, a 1,000% increase in prices for high GWP HFCs is prompting a move to natural refrigerants in supermarkets. As a result, of the 20,000 supermarkets and convenience stores worldwide that use natural refrigerants, 16,000 are in Europe and 3,500 in Japan. Only 370 are installed in the U.S. Policy leaders are the state of California, the EU and Japan. China is also getting on board and beginning to push natural refrigerants, the presenter said.
Better Buildings Make Better Employees
Better buildings improve productivity and job satisfaction, according to new research. Building quality ranked second in contributing to employee satisfaction and productivity when benchmarked against other traditional employee perks such as bonuses, fitness benefits and flexible work hours. Only private work offices topped building quality by a slim margin. Since 80% of most organizations’ budget is spent on staff and 10% on buildings, spending more on providing a quality work environment to get more loyalty and productivity from staff makes sense, said presenter Continental Automated Buildings Association.
Green Buildings and Energy Savings
Two detailed post-installation case studies showed how 250- and 500-ton closed circuit cooling tower chillers reduced energy consumption by 48%, lowered energy demand in peak periods and reduced annual operating costs, according to the presenter, Cooling Technology Institute.
Personal Health and Indoor Air Quality
Air pollutants that can threaten your health are two to 10 times worse indoors than outdoors. The four most dangerous indoor pollutants are tobacco smoke, formaldehyde, radioactive Radon gas and particulate matter that, if large enough, can directly enter the bloodstream and cause health problems. New IoT [Internet of Things] devices can help address these concerns and better protect people indoors with cost-effective sensors that monitor air quality and send alerts to homeowners, according to a presentation by Refresh Smart Home, sponsored by the Indoor Air Quality Association.
2019 Innovation Awards Product of the Year
The AHR Expo awarded its Product of the Year award for 2019 to enVerid Systems. enVerid was also recognized as the winner of the 2019 Innovations Awards Green Building category for its HVAC Load Reduction (HLR) Module 1000E-M. Each year, winners are selected in a total of 10 industry categories. A ceremony hosted during the AHR Expo recognizes all winners from these categories and an overall Product of the Year winner is chosen.
“Being named Product of the Year is an enormous honor and extremely gratifying to our entire team,” said Dr. Udi Meirav, founder and president of enVerid Systems. “But even more importantly, it is a recognition of the transformative potential of HLR technology for the entire industry. We hope this will further encourage the industry to accelerate the adoption of HLR-based designs of HVAC systems and bring its phenomenal benefits to buildings all over the world.”
Attendees gave the Show high marks. “I’ve attended the AHR Expo for the past 10 years. As an OEM Product Development Engineer, I find it’s a convenient place to meet all of our suppliers in one place. I’m also able to stay up-to-date on the latest technological developments and source new components for my designs. I can meet up with any customers or potential customers to discuss the heat pumps we manufacture,” said Dan Rheault, product development engineer, Maritime Geothermal Ltd.
“We come to the AHR Expo year after year because we are looking for the newest devices and software programs that are in our commercial buildings. We integrate new technologies for our customers so that they can use the app-based services via the Internet of Things and cloud-based services. This Show is really the place where you can get all this information in a day or two, look at
what is happening in the industry and really know where the industry is going. We are at the forefront of exciting things happening for manufacturing and HVAC as a whole,” said Michael Youngs, vice president of sales, commercial for Motili, a Daikin Company.
So did exhibitors. “This was a good Show for us, even considering this is a Southern region Show which is typically slower for us since we are primarily a heating equipment manufacturer. We had good numbers and a steady flow in the booth on day one. We really enjoyed and appreciated the Show App and its capabilities this year because we could easily organize our leads and send them off to the appropriate sales contact directly from the Show floor. We’ll be back in Orlando in 2020 and we look forward to a busy year ahead with the leads we’re taking away from Atlanta,” said David Walsh, vice president of sales, USA, NTI Boilers.
What’s Ahead for HVACR
Industry trends that are expected to play a role in the coming year were discussed on the Show floor and in the Education Sessions. Among these are: alternative refrigerants; job force replenishment and recruiting into the HVACR industry; whole-building systems operations; and the Internet of Things and building automation control (BAC). Another topic of discussion was HVACR’s role in new markets, such as health and wellness, cloud-based systems and food production via controlled climates. Follow along with AHR Expo throughout the year to track these trends.
The AHR Expo is an HVACR event where manufacturers of all sizes and specialties can share ideas and showcase future technology. The next Show, co-sponsored by ASHRAE and AHRI, will be held Feb. 3-5, 2020, in Orlando, concurrently with ASHRAE’s Winter Conference.
For more information, visit www.ahrexpo.com and follow @ahrexpo on Twitter.
PICTURED: Attendees of 2019 AHR Expo.
Photo courtesy of AHR Expo.