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All business in show business

I’m just about exhibitioned and seminared out – if such verbs exist.

The last few weeks have seen visits to such exotic locations as Southampton, Watford, Birmingham and Dusseldorf in response to requests to both provide information and, from a personal point of view, the more important need to obtain information.

Three very different events – two Dean & Wood roadshows, the ACR Show and the EuroShop exhibition – and three very different observations as to their respective position and importance both to suppliers and their prospective customers. Significantly, each event also raised three very different but equally important topics on the subject of refrigerants.

First up was two very enjoyable evenings spent with Dean & Wood customers at two of Deano’s Facing Change roadshows. While many of our refrigeration societies and Institute branches have struggled to maintain their monthly talks, Dean & Wood proved that the regional roadshow can still attract a reasonable attendance if there’s an attractive programme of topics and the event is marketed energetically.

Of course, unlike the big centrally-located seminars or exhibitions, these events are designed to  offer the customer the convenience of being informed about, and being able to view, some of the latest technologies on their doorstep. So I was surprised how far some had traveled to attend.

It’s probably fair to say that the talk by Dewi Garcia of Harp on the content of the F-gas revision proposals attracted the most attention. What was surprising was how many of the attendees were completely unaware of these new revisions and the fact that the higher GWP refrigerants like R404A will not be with us for much longer.

It is clear that the industry, government and the media still has a lot to do to increase awareness of the implications off this document.

Business intelligence theatreThe national show

So on to the NEC and the ACR Show, the UK’s only national exhibition for the acr industry.

I personally believe that this industry needs a national event of this sort but it can only be a success if the industry consider it to be cost effective and the customers find it useful.

It was disappointing, therefore, that the show was visibly smaller than two years ago but, encouragingly, the number of visitors appeared to be similar. Most importantly, though, while there are always some exhibitors disappointed I was surprised at how many were impressed and delighted by the quality of visitor. It appeared to attract people with real buying influence.

F-gas was quite rightly up for discussion at a number of the extensive programme of seminars presented at the ACR Show. Feedback from the audience in one of the seminars I was involved with made it clear that while training engineers in the use of the high pressure, toxic and flammable low GWP alternatives to HFCs is essential, there are real concerns as to how it will be funded and who exactly will provide it.

The ACR Show was also used by Daikin as the venue for the European launch of its new VRV lV heat recovery system. Amongst the UK customers they brought to the event, Daikin also flew in a group of European air conditioning journalists. I wonder what their impression of our UK show was compared to some of the huge events that are commonplace in continental Europe?

The international event

One of those huge events is the unusually triennial EuroShop exhibition, which I paid a flying visit to on Monday of this week. Occupying two and a bit halls of the show at the Dusseldorf exhibition centre, the refrigeration section had a huge and significant presence. Any one of the EPTA, Arneg or Carrier stands alone could have swallowed the ACR Show.

EuroShop14_BL13821Visitor numbers are also huge and seemingly perturbed by the massive €60 entrance fee (OK, €42 if booked online in advance).

As the retail industry’s major European exhibition, we shouldn’t be surprised by either its size or the number of visitors it attracts, nor should we be surprised at the number of products being promoted based on the retailers’ refrigerant du jour, CO2.

OK, there were also a large number of hydrocarbon-based products on show but these were submerged by the big shouty banners proclaiming CO2. Of HFCs or even HFOs I could find not a mention.

For an industry that has historically paid scant attention to refrigerant leaks, it is perhaps appropriate that the supermarkets, at least, should move to a refrigerant with far less potential harm to the environment. So why do I hear an increasing number of learned industry voices questioning the efficiency claims, system costs and the overall rationale behind the widespread adoption of CO2 systems?

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