The floor of the Georgia World Congress Center was packed with AHR Expo attendees.

ATLANTA - The show was popular as ever, the weather cooperated, and the Georgia World Congress Center was bustling with the hvac industry's hottest new products. One thousand, sixty seven exhibitors reserved space, including 127 international companies from 22 different countries. Attendance at the first two days of the show was 48,000 (26,000 visitors, 22,000 exhibitor personnel), eclipsing the total for the show the last time it was held in Atlanta (1996).

Show management announced that in the future AHR Expo will be held in Chicago every three years, beginning in 2003. A few of the early highlights:

  • Roper Whitney, Rockford, Ill., announced its acquisition of Tin Knocker, San Marcos, Calif. So new was the announcement that the Program Directory still listed Tin Knocker while the booth had a Roper Whitney sign above it.

  • Mestek Inc. announced creation of its new wholly-owned subsidiary, Mestek Technology Inc. MTI in turn introduced two new software programs, "ProfitWorks" and MTI Sales Assistant. The first is mainly for manufacturers' representatives and is Windows-based to run on an NT Server. Sales tools, order entry, purchasing, accounting and reporting features are included. The sales tools provide project, quotation and order tracking; commission allocations and reconciliation; and sales analysis. An order entry module provides dynamic access to line items, customer data, inventories and credit information. Also introduced was a "Messenger" remote monitoring device that can be used to check the status of hvac equipment such as boilers, rooftop units, etc. with its own embedded modem.

  • Portable cooling: The AirPac Coolit 3000 is a "new and revolutionary, self-contained, portable air conditioner with a cooling capacity of 27,800 Btu/h and a whisper-quiet sound level rating of 58dB," according to the manufacturer.

    AirPac describes this product as a solution for primary, supplemental, emergency and temporary cooling of computer centers, network equipment rooms, schools, hospitals, laboratories, government buildings, retail spaces, high-rise buildings and historical structures. The unit weighs 345 lbs. and measures 30X25X54.5 inches.

  • Reflectix Inc. exhibited for the first time this year, introducing its new fiber-free product line of acoustic and thermal insulation products. These products are said to be resistant to mold, mildew, insects and rodents, and maintains a class A class 1 fire rating.

    Reflectix can be used for room additions, new construction and areas where drafts or moisture may be a problem, especially effective in attics, while also suitable for crawl spaces and basement walls. It has an R-value of 5.6. The company is located in Markleville, Ind.

  • Estimation Inc. demonstrated its "advanced, web-enabled Bidmaster NET series computerized estimating system and Purchase Master NFT series materials management software system."

    According to Estimation, contractors can expand their business power with the new NET series by integrating with the "TradePower" digital marketplace for real-time pricing and availability on-line. "Bidmaster NET" has more than 1.98 million hvac items. "Purchase Master NET" allows contractors to track project materials and manage requisitions, purchase orders, and back orders.

  • FieldCentrix, announced at the show that United Maintenance, Inc., a commercial-industrial hvac service provider in Atlanta, has successfully integrated FieldCentrix wireless FX Mobile¿ software for field technicians with Maxwell's popular dispatch and accounting modules. The solution has reportedly streamlined United Maintenance's day-to-day business functions and reduced the customer billing cycle from two weeks to two days. All of the company's 28 field technicians are now using FX Mobile and handheld computers to service customers.

FOF showed its fabric air diffusers, which serves a growing niche. One recent example application was in a large museum that would have proven a difficult and expensive (estimated at $6 million) retrofit to install traditional sheet metal ducts. Fabric ducts used instead cost in the several hundred thousand dollar range. Large retail stores also are looking at these to save money. They can also be taken down, washed and rehung, a boon for improved air quality. As they are becoming more popular, more local building codes are recognizing them and writing standards for their use. Several other companies making similar products, such as DuctSox and FabricAir, also exhibited. The latter is a division of 30-year-old Denmark-based IPS Ventilation and is headquartered in Louisville, Ky.