Mike Gum (left) and Kevin Baydar of Vicon Machinery stand next to one of the company’s plasma tables at CMX in Toronto. The machines are distributed through Westway Machinery Ltd. in Canada.

TORONTO - While the U.S. economy is still trying to get its recovery under way, Canada is already showing strong signs of a rebound - if the 2010 CMX show is any indication.

Attendance was up 6.5 percent from 2008 for the biennial event. An estimated 14,400 people came March 25-27 to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for the plumbing and HVAC industry show. There were approximately 500 exhibitors.

”This show bodes well for the future,” said Patrick Shield, the show’s manager. “The show floor was busy each day of the show and our numbers indicate that more than 10 percent of our attendees visited the show for two and three days. That says we have the kind of products and the information they’re looking for. They’re willing to set aside time from a busy schedule to devote themselves to a day or more at their industry show.”

Show chairman Ed Seaward of Union Gas Ltd., said the attendance boost proves Canada’s economy is already growing and companies are hungry for new products and information.

“(The show) is truly the showplace for the industry,” he said. “It’s a source for new products and trends, a place to come face-to-face with suppliers and a fast, effective way to get solid industry updates and the latest information on innovations.”

Empire Machinery & Tools Ltd. in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is the Canadian distributor of the D-Max 1.2E spiral tube former made by ISM Machinery Inc. Rick McLean (left), a sales manager at Empire; Brian Timmerman, president of ISM; Jerry Cunningham of ISM; and Laura Johnson, general manager at Empire, stand behind the D-Man 1.2E.

Busy, busy

Exhibitors noticed the increased trade show traffic.

“We had one of the best shows ever,” said Tom Boutette, the president of B&B Trade Distribution, based in London, Ontario. “We’ve exhibited in the show for more than a decade and this (year) was remarkable. We went into the show concentrating our efforts on alternative energies and new technology, things like geothermal, electro-thermal and solar water heating. We received an extremely high level of interest and it came from quality attendees who were clearly senior decision makers.”

Decision makers and not insomniacs, were the targeted audience for Bob Farrell’s March 26 seminar, “GPS Technology: How it Can Help You to Sleep Peacefully at Night.”

Farrell, of Pinpoint GPS Solutions Inc. in Mississauga, Ontario, said a company with just a five-vehicle fleet would likely spend more than $2 million (Canadian) for maintenance, fuel and labor after just a few years, which is why he said global positioning systems are a wise investment. His figures used a gas price of $1.50 per liter in the metro Toronto area, or about $5.70 a U.S. gallon.

“Generally speaking, fuel is a lot more than it was just a few years ago,” Farrell said, adding that excessive engine idling, very common among service vehicles, wastes a lot of fuel. Too many contractors let engines run while they load vehicles. 

An estimated 14,000 attended the 2010 CMX trade show, which was held March 25-27 in Toronto. Image courtesy of Shield Associates Ltd.

Standing still

Cut idling time in half and you could save $65 to $125 per vehicle, per month. He said the U.S. Department of Energy estimates idling wastes up to $10 per hour in fuel.

GPS systems can keep track of excessive idling and ensure oil is changed regularly and other maintenance is performed.

“If you use a maintenance module, I guarantee you will save money on repairs,” Farrell said. “It helps maintain the value of the vehicle.”

Such software can also tell you if workers are often using “jackrabbit” starts and hard braking as part of their driving habits.

Farrell pointed out that many Canadian provinces offer businesses rebates on their fuel taxes, which GPS can help you claim. The systems can also help you prove your company’s commitment to energy savings and sustainable practices.

“They’re finding out that it is good business to say that they are ‘carbon neutral’ or getting to be carbon neutral,” he said.

Carbon neutral refers to an entity using no more energy than what it saves or creates.

GPS can also help lower auto insurance costs by proving your work force is made up of good drivers. And it helps enforce any company policies limiting or banning after-hours use of company vehicles, Farrell said. With it, it’s possible to find out where workers are driving, stopping or how long it took them to get there.

“GPS leaves a ‘breadcrumb’ trail,” he said. “It tells people where you went.”

Bob Farrell of Pinpoint GPS Solutions Inc. in Mississauga, Ontario, explained that global positioning systems are a wise investment for many contractors in a March 26 seminar.

Gone to the dogs

He gave an example of a client that discovered one worker drove 35 miles out of his way to a jobsite. When confronted by his employer, the worker said a maker of dog food was giving out excess supply free and he was stocking up for his pet.

But with GPS, “You’re able to hold drivers accountable,” Farrell said. “If you cut down on personal use of vehicles… it cuts down on the risk of an accident.”

Global positioning systems help people besides drivers, he added. They can make dispatchers jobs easier as well, since they can help dispatchers with routing and allows drivers to avoid some traffic headaches.

“Your driver can’t produce any revenue for you if he’s sitting in a traffic jam,” Farrell said.

By keeping meticulous records of when trucks are on the road or stopped, dispatchers can give customers highly accurate estimates of arrival times. A reliable company may be able to charge more for its services, Farrell pointed out.

A lot of contractors who are hesitant to install GPS cite privacy concerns over the technology. But Farrell said Canadian law permits employers to monitor company “assets” and people during the workday.

And where employees are traveling in their company-owned vehicles certainly qualifies.

“From a legal perspective, there is no reason why you cannot put (GPS) in,” he said. However, you cannot install a GPS system in a private vehicle used for work purposes.

It’s best to be upfront about using a monitoring system, Farrell said. Tell your employees you’re installing the system and let them know why.

“What you want to do is treat employees like adults,” he said.

For reprints of this article, contact Jill DeVries at (248) 244-1726 or e-mail devriesj@bnpmedia.com.