ABB saw excitement at AHR conference
ABB executives saw enthusiasm for their own products and the air-conditioning, heating and refrigeration sector at the AHR Expo. The January event drew a record 37,000 visitors and almost 2,000 exhibitors.
“The resurgence of interest in the particulars of this industry was apparent everywhere -- and it's exciting,” said Jeff Miller, HVAC sales manager for ABB Inc., Low Voltage Drives. “A key indicator was the number of building owners and engineers on the floor -- taking an active role in what vendors like ABB can help them achieve.”
With energy prices at record levels, energy efficiency in this sector was a major driver of business. "The whole market, including HVAC, is predisposed to consider energy-saving products like drives," said Miller. “There are a lot of growth opportunities for companies that know how to put every kilowatt of energy to wise use in commercial buildings. And utilities are supporting exactly this kind of approach, because it is cheaper to reward building owners for better energy management than it is to create the infrastructure required to generate additional energy.”
Miller said the education and healthcare markets continue to be "white hot" he said, as many aging structures are replaced, and as demand for healthcare from an aging population place demands on the market. "Geographically, the northeast area of the U.S., in particular, is showing rapid growth and sustained demand," he said.
Motor drives, which enable HVAC systems to operate motors based on actual building demand, "are now so accepted in this industry, that owners and engineers are looking for new, novel ways to apply them, in the interest of optimizing energy usage," Miller said.
The industry also enjoys a high degree of engineering expertise, customer acceptance/use of drives; and drives are value priced, "so they make so much practical sense," he noted. This couples with a revived interest from building owners and key engineers, "who now are investigating what additional energy-savings opportunities exist, what technologies are available to get them -- and then are asking their third-party vendors, such as system integrators, to put these devices and technologies to work in their facilities."
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Annual Salary Survey
Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.
There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.
But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.
Read more: 2015 Salary Survey