BY ROBERT P. MADER
OF CONTRACTOR'S STAFF
FRANKFURT, GERMANY – ISH Frankfurt continues to live up the the superlatives that come from being the largest plumbing-heating-cooling trade show in the world. This year's edition set a record with 215,378 attendees finding their way March 6-10 to the Frankfurt Fair and Exhibition Center. The show is held in Frankfurt every two years.
Even the show's name, International Sanitar Heizung Clima, has expanded now to ISH 2007, The World's Leading Trade Fair for the Bathroom, Building Services, Energy, Air Conditioning Technology and Renewable Energies.
And it is all of those and more. This is a show so big that it's in multiple buildings with shuttle bus service running between them. The 2,392 exhibitors from 58 countries presented their innovations on 254,000 square meters of gross exhibition space, occupying almost the entire Exhibition Center. Translated into English measurements, that's 2,734,033 sq. ft.
The big reason for an American to attend ISH is to see what will hit our shores in the future. Wall-hung condensing boilers, PEX pipe press fitting systems and the latest solar collectors were on display in Germany in 2001 or even earlier.
Michael von Bock und Polach, general manager of the German Sanitation, Heating and Air Conditioning Federation, noted the groundbreaking nature of ISH.
"For the sanitation, heating and air conditioning sector, the ISH was the show for energy and design," he said. "The fair highlighted the high degree of future orientation to be found in our sector. The significant increase in the number of international trade visitors — without any corresponding decrease in the number of German visitors — emphasizes the leading position held by German sanitation, heating and air conditioning technology. This year's ISH will have generated powerful impulses, the effect of which will be felt well into next year."
Leading edge products include: oil-fired condensing boilers designed to burn bio-diesel; wood-burning equipment with efficiencies in the 90%+ range; heat pumps tied in with solar collectors; and even a prototype of a residential fuel cell heat-and-power unit.
Renewable fuels are huge in Europe. Between Arabs increasing oil prices and Russians cutting off natural gas supplies, as they did for three days last year, Europeans are willing to spend a lot of money to avoid both of them.
The top 10 European visitor nations at the show after Germany were Italy, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain and Czech Republic. The most overseas visitors came from Asia and North America, including the United States, Canada, South Korea, Japan and China.
About two thirds of visitors said they are managers with a high level of decision-making authority.
The installation trade made up the largest single group of visitors with about 86,000 contractors, installers and tradesmen. Engineers, architects and planners also attended in significantly larger numbers than at the 2005 show.
The overall main areas of visitor interest were heating technology and Bathroom Experience (50% each). The subject of renewable energy was of primary interest for almost 33,000 trade visitors, or 15%. One in four visitors came for air conditioning, refrigeration and ventilation technology.
CONTRACTOR will featured extended coverage of the products shown at ISH 2007 in its May issue. The next ISH will be held March 10-14, 2009, in Frankfurt.