HVAC market trade show AHR Expo endures snowy weather
NEW YORK — A Jan. 22 storm that dropped almost a foot of snow on Manhattan was not enough to prevent thousands from attending this year’s AHR Expo.
Although final attendance figures are still to be verified, show organizers the International Exposition Co. say more than 61,000 people were registered to attend the Jan. 21-23 show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Almost 43,000 visitors and 18,200 exhibitor staffers — representing all 50 U.S. states and 130 countries — were at this year’s event.
If the numbers hold, it will be a record for the 66th annual HVAC market trade show.
“We were obviously very concerned when the weather forecast predicted there would be a snowstorm on opening day and arctic cold the last two days of the show,” said Clay Stevens, president of International Exposition Co. “However, we were encouraged when we saw thousands of people pouring into the show as if the weather wasn’t even a factor.”
More than 1,900 exhibiting companies used an estimated 385,000 square feet of exhibit space.
“We were very happy with the attendance, as were all the exhibitors and attendees we spoke with,” Stevens added. “However, I’m sure we would have blown away the all-time attendance record even more if the weather hadn’t been so severe.”
Despite the storm, many exhibitors said they were happy with the traffic their AHR Expo booths generated.
“Moving air is the primary thing that we drive and we have a lot of contractors that stop by. This is really a place where we can get the voice of the customer,” said Brad Gossard, the vice president of global marketing at Emerson Climate Technologies’ Browning brand. “This is a must event for us. Traffic was excellent — even the first day when it was in the middle of a snowstorm.”
Ken Schoeneck, Trane’s vice president of marketing, said the AHR Expo is essential to his company.
“When you’ve got new products to talk about, that’s when you’ve got to come to the show and get the word out,” he said. “We’re doing a residential focus this year. This my third show: Chicago two years ago, Dallas last year, this one here in New York, and I’d say this was the best one by far.”
Many contractors in attendance said they also enjoyed the show, even if getting to Manhattan was tougher than they expected.
“We flew a long way to get here, so I don’t care what the weather is — we were coming to the show,” said Andrew Young of Engineered Energy Corp. in St. Johns, Newfoundland. “We came to see new products and what’s happening in the world. This show it’s great — it’s the biggest (HVAC) show in the world. You have to come here eventually to see what is new.”
Robert Greenbaum of AirTemp Conditioning Services Inc. in Elmsford, N.Y., didn’t have to travel far to attend the show, but he was glad he came.
“Came to find out what’s out there, how the industry’s changing and what to expect and what to look forward to,” he said. “It’s a great show. You get to see things you don’t see elsewhere.”
Lots of new products
In case you weren’t there to see it in person, here is a list of some of the many HVAC and sheet metal products on display.
J.T. Products Inc. of Warwick, N.Y., used the expo to launch its new line of Big Dog American-brand products. The line includes Zip-Ez fasteners, a U.S.-made, patented insulation- and duct board-joining system. It saves time and money, officials said.
Also on display was the Ez Strip Spacer that meets the needs of reflective and polyester ductwork insulation makers to have airspace around ductwork, according to the company. Easy to install with double-sided tape, it increases R-values, it says.
GPS and more
Global positioning software and equipment manufacturer Trimble introduced Field Points software for construction field layout. It enables contractors to create layout points in computer-aided design and building information modeling. This helps boost productivity and reduce errors by matching the digital design with the construction site, officials said.
“As the industry continues to push the utilization of BIM practices for cost savings and project data collaboration, connecting the digital model to the field is a crucial piece of this process,” said Pat Bohle, general manager of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing division at the Trimble Buildings Group. “Trimble Field Points provides a cost-effective tool for contractors and those involved in the building construction process, while eliminating the need for extra steps through its integration with a variety of BIM tools.”
It also integrates with Trimble’s Field Link layout software and connects to the company’s robotic total stations, officials add.
Components and controls maker Danfoss used the show to promote its VLT HVAC drives line, which includes the VLT HVAC Basic Drive and the VLT HVAC Drive. It also showed a demonstration version of its new VLT HVAC NEMA 4X/4/3R Drive, a unit that can be mounted at the equipment’s location, even in harsh weather, according to the company.
The other units offer reduced component wear and operating costs, they added.
“No matter the application, performance requirements, environmental concerns, or space restrictions, Danfoss’ VLT drives offer OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), contractors, engineers and end users the exact drive solution they need to deliver the performance that is required,” said Steve Gmeinder, Danfoss’ HVAC product manager.
Coinciding with the expo, instrument maker Testo Inc. unveiled its Team Testo membership program at a New York City pub. It offers HVAC contractors and technicians to receive discounts, “insider” information, industry news and education on Testo products. Details are at www.TeamTesto.com.
“We at Testo know our customers are hard-working professionals, trying to learn more to get ahead. Team Testo gives them the edge they need to succeed,” said John Bickers, the company’s director of product management.
Mestek Machinery introduced the first of a new line of Cornermatic machines for corner insertion into Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors’ National Association-approved TDC/TDF (T-25A/T-25B) duct fabrication — the Cornermatic Plus. In development for two years, this is the first new corner insertion machine in almost 20 years — developed strictly for fitting work, according to the company. It addresses the needs of contractors for inserting corners into all types of fittings, particularly difficult off-set, angle-shaped fitting ductwork. The Cornermatic Plus can handle fittings made to SMACNA standards and gauges, from 16 to 26.
It uses new cardboard-sleeved corner packaging that greatly speeds up corner loading and locates the feed hopper under the work table allowing an unobstructed work surface. A new outside-the-duct “flange clamping” feature along with “angled press heads” and new “crimping” mechanism ensures a high degree of jam-free crimping and a reliable fit, Mestek says.
This show demonstration model was sold to Heritage Mechanical Services of Farmingdale, N.Y.
The company also exhibited a redesigned dual-head unit, the Cornermatic-II. The automated straight duct corner crimper has labor-saving features and increased reliability, Mestek said.
Shurtape Technologies LLC used its booth to feature its line of AF series cold-temperature foil tapes and the DC 181 film tape. The AF line is designed to form an airtight seal on joints and seams, thanks to an acrylic adhesive. They can be applied in temperatures ranging from minus 20°F to 250°F.
The DC 181 film tape joins, seals and patches Class 1 flexible ductwork to prevent air loss.
“You can’t control the temperature, but you can control the quality and reliability of your work,” said Roy Cox, Shurtape’s contractor marketing manager. “These tapes are designed to create an airtight bond with no leaks, even when the temperature shifts, so you can be confident every job is done right.”
Put a pin in it
Rhode Island-based Gripnail promoted its PowerPoint insulated weld pins. They offer an insulated cap, high-quality plating, faster welds and a sharp point. A beveled edge cap prevents duct liner tearing. Consistent feeding and better packaging reduced machine problems, officials say.
General Tools & Instruments showed two of its new installation and maintenance kits. An HVAC meter kit includes a multimeter with 19 functions over 48 ranges. It also has a 30:1 wide-range infrared thermometer with a K port. The HVAC DMM kit includes a 400-amp clamp meter with 11 functions over 34 ranges.
Software company FieldAware released several applications to help contractors boost productivity and service at its booth. The mobile apps centralize functions and make managing quotes, dispatching and invoicing easier, officials say. The apps are especially designed to take advantage of tablet computers with auto-rotating displays and data viewable in a single-screen format.
“Tablets are quickly becoming the device of choice for many field service organizations, as they seek to add feature-rich functionality that can improve operations and ultimately beat the competition,” said Johnny Jones, vice president of global distribution for FieldAware. “Our new tablet apps and upgrades to our smartphone apps will help field personnel to be even more productive and field service companies more profitable.”
VTS Group, a European HVAC equipment maker, announced that it was starting operations in the U.S., and offering “Born in the USA” air-handling units under its Ventus brand.
“We are excited to be bringing our unique and proven approach to air handling unit solutions to the U.S. HVAC industry,” said Dariusz Szylman, president of VTS America. “We look forward to promoting recognition of the VTS and Ventus brands in the U.S. market, which we recognize as currently the largest in the world.”
The company recently built a training center, manufacturing plant and offices in Buford, Ga. An estimated 630,000 VTS products have been installed worldwide, officials said.
Tons of tools
Toolmaker Hilmor introduced more than 20 items aimed at the HVAC market at this year’s AHR Expo. Among the items being promoted was a quick-change magnetic nut driver that features a 6-inch shaft. Made of chrome vanadium steel, it has a magnetic tip that keeps fasteners in place, a hollow shaft for long bolts and color coding to make identifying sizes easier. Changing between the common quarter-inch and five-sixteenth sizes are especially easy, Hilmor says.
Also on display was a folding utility knife that has a blade-lock and liner-lock feature that makes one-hand operation safer, it says. The knife contains space for five extra blades.
New compact tubing cutters — available in small- and large-diameter versions — allow HVAC technicians to make precise flaring cuts with one hand, Hilmor said. A cast-zinc body and shock-resisting steel wheel cuts down on burrs and a full-stop threading system protects cutting wheels.
“We created the Hilmor line of HVACR tools based on a six-year, multimillion-dollar research and development process,” said the company’s senior vice president of marketing, Rich Mathews. “We continued that commitment to addressing unmet needs of HVACR techs, and our additional tools reflect that.”
In a booth that featured lots of ductwork and product-testing areas, Duro Dyne Corp. of Bay Shore, N.Y., was promoting a number of sheet metal accessories, including the company’s silicone sealants. Available in aluminum gray, clear and white, they offer quick curing and long-lasting protection and adhesion, officials said.
Heating & Cooling Products officials were on hand to discuss the company’s new Total Seal transverse sealed duct and fittings system, available for residential and commercial uses. The company says the new system exceeds the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association’s Class 3 leakage standards and eliminates the need for tape and mastics.
FastEst Inc. had its FastPipe and FastDuct estimating programs on display at this year’s expo. The company says the programs, which were developed for Windows 7 and beyond, deliver fast performance and an easy-to-learn, reliable user experience. Both software programs are functional on tablets, laptops and desktop computers.
DuctSox introduced its new adjustable orifice nozzle for jet-type airstream direction from fabric HVAC ductwork. The adjustable nozzles are designed for any spot heating, cooling or ventilation application and are ideal for industrial plants, retail stores, natatoriums and other building categories that require high throw or specific airflow direction and movement.
The company also used the expo to unveil its new 2014 catalog and design guide for fabric duct products and accessories. The 26-page catalog features DuctSox’s new SkeleCore series in-duct framework support, as well as its complete line of suspension, fabric, airflow and accessories for textile duct.
ShopData Systems was showing its new QuickDuct Bench CAM software, which provides users with the resources to design, input and put out their own fitting jobs in data exchange format. Features of the software include automatic fitting and flat-pattern layout views; rectangular fitting library; 3-D preview; connectors and seams libraries; and personalized training and support.
Metal-Fab Inc. and Gray Metal Products Inc. displayed their ceiling radiation dampers in boot assemblies. These assemblies are designed for use in Underwriters Laboratories’ fire-resistant floor-ceiling and roof-ceiling designs. Gray Metal Products also had its product guide on hand to educate attendees on its various product lines, including pipes, elbows, register boots, takeoffs, duct fittings and more. Also featured in the 40-page guide is a company dedication and timeline highlighting Gray Metal’s 114 years of business.
Design Polymerics was also present to inform attendees of the company’s green building products via its new product guide. The guide features product descriptions of the company’s duct sealants, adhesives, insulation mastics, indoor air quality products and accessories.
One product on display was the model 1090 low-volatile organic compound solvent-based duct sealant, which can be used for sealing joints, seams, and duct wall penetrations in commercial and industrial applications. The duct sealant is recommended for sealing supply and return rectangular, round, oval and metal flexible ducts, and also for projects requiring Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
FabricAir had literature on hand for several of its fabric duct systems, including its FabricAir dispersion systems sales catalog. The catalog features a variety of descriptions and images of the company’s systems. One of which includes the Jetflow fabric duct system, whose features include: precise directional air distribution; applications for both heating and cooling ventilation; identical performance as conventional spot diffusers with more advantages; easy to install and no balancing necessary.
DuraTite Systems LLC introduced the Start-to-Finish product line by Havaco Technologies LLC. The line includes the Quick Connect start collars; snap-together Ys; multilevel reducers; register boots with ceiling diffusers and more. These dent- and rust-resistant products were made in the U.S., and are quicker and safer to install than other products in the market, the company says.
EastCoast CAD/CAM showcased version 6.0 of EC DuctMaker. The software now includes support for Motorola barcode scanners to keep track of the physical location of fittings during fabrication and delivery.
The barcode scanner communicates with DuctMaker to set the phase and shipment location, and displays information about the fitting, from fabrication to shipping.
Aeroseal officials were present to educate potential customers on the company’s patented duct-sealing technology. The company says the new technology is an effective and affordable method of finding and sealing leaks in ductwork systems of commercial buildings. The duct-sealing process begins and ends with a thorough diagnostic test of the duct system, summarizing the building’s amount of leakage before and after installing the Aeroseal duct-sealing technology.
Ultratech Industries Inc. informed expo attendees of the company’s Ultrac and Ultraprobe airflow measuring stations. Both stations provide accurate repeatable measurement of average velocity or static pressure in ducts, pipes and outside air. The measuring stations feature mounting hardware that allows the duct to expand and contract without any penetration of the sensing manifold, ensuring pressure integrity. The company says the stations’ unique method of construction eliminates non-essential hardware from the flow stream, reducing buildup of dirt and foreign matter. The Ultrac and Ultraprobe units are available in rectangular, round and oval configurations with various casing and flange designs.
Vicon Machinery LLC/Plasma Automation Inc. displayed a wide variety of sheet metal fabrication equipment. The latest products included a programmable plasma cutter on the Vicon coil line as well as a Vicon dual-head corner insertion machine. The company said several of its machines were sold off the show floor, and officials said the show was a major success.
Alan Manufacturing Inc. provided information on a couple of its products. The C210 zone control system controls up to five zones and operates with the new radio-frequency communication. Some additional advantages of the C210 system include room-by-room comfort control; works with standard air-conditioning ducted systems; enables users to heat or cool only the areas required, as and when required; reduces energy costs and quick and easy installation.
The Gladiola electronic control system — including a handheld remote control, mount receiver and a motorized metal damper unit — has the capability of controlling one zone or a series of rooms. The system consist of proportional damper control; a setting timer; temperature display monitor; identification code; cooling/heating selector and manual or automatic mode of operation. The Gladiola system can be quickly and easily installed as an independent unit in an existing air-conditioning duct system.
Shortridge Instruments Inc. officials were present to discuss a few of its products. The HydroData Multimeter electronic pressure gauge was designed with convenience in mind, the company says. The product comes with a complete kit that includes valve network panel and hoses. Accurate across a wide range of fluid gauge and differential pressures, the HydroData Multimeter functions as a compound pressure gauge and simultaneously measures the high- and low-side pressures, as well as the differential pressure.
The AirData Multimeter series includes the 850L, 860C, 870C and 880C models, which are handheld, portable meters used for measuring air velocity, pressure and temperature. Any meter can also be used in conjunction with a FlowHood kit to obtain airflow readings.
By the book
Hendrick Manufacturing had its general handbook on hand at this year’s expo. The 32-page metal handbook includes information about the company, architectural applications, industrial products and capabilities and standard architectural hole types.
Heidtman Steel Products promoted its quick-ship program. Through the program, HVAC customers can order sheet metal products that meet SMACNA standards. The products are typically in-stock and ready to be shipped and delivered within 24 hours of the order, company officials say.
Cleveland Tool and Machine was also present at the AHR Expo to provide information on its automatic elbow machine series, which the company says was designed to produce high-quality elbows. The machines increase productivity with fast cycle times and include high-quality cutting and forming, and features that assure safety, the company says. Other features of the elbow machines include an integrated lubrication system; hardened and heat-treated tooling; proportional valve with ramp for control of the gear head and more.
WennSoft informed potential customers of Jumpstart. Jumpstart is a digital platform that provides companies with the ability to manage labor, control costs and gain a competitive advantage, officials say. Jumpstart software is available in a monthly subscription.
Knipex Tools discussed a variety of its products, including the Cobra quick set pliers; the TwinForce diagonal cutter; pliers wrench and electrical installation pliers.
Gripple Inc. had information about its side-loading hanger on hand. Officials say the hanger is designed for the suspension of pipes horizontally, in conjunction with threaded rod in an indoor stationary setting. The product is ideal for use with sprinkler or any other non-insulated rigid pipe. It can also be used for installing longer lengths of pipe, with elbows and T sections pre-fabricated.
For reprints of this article, contact Renee Schuett at (248) 786-1661 or email email@example.com.
Exhibitor survey predicts healthy year
To paraphrase a Frank Sinatra song, 2014 may be a very good year for the HVAC industry, if the results of a survey commissioned by ASHRAE and AHR Expo organizers are any indication.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers and the International Exposition Co. surveyed more than 1,000 HVAC manufacturers on their predictions for business this year.
Of those who responded, 60 percent said prospects were “good,” with an additional 19 percent calling them “excellent.” The remaining 21 percent characterized business conditions as “fair.” No respondents said they felt business would be worse this year.
The figures were an improvement over the 2012 pre-show survey, which found 70 percent thought the economy would grow in 2013. Ninety percent of those surveyed said they felt sales would grow this year: 32 percent said they expected more than a 10 percent boost, while 31 percent said they felt a 5 percent to 10 percent increase was more likely.
Ten percent forecast flat sales for 2014.