CHICAGO — The old saying about rain, sleet and snow originally referred to U.S. mail carriers, but it could also apply to AHR Expo attendees. No matter the weather, thousands of industry members make their way to Chicago every time the expo visits.

The Jan. 26-28 HVAC construction event at Chicago’s McCormick Place brought an estimated 62,000 people to the city. Preliminary figures show 61,990 people were registered to attend the show. That included 42,400 trade show visitors and almost 20,000 exhibitor staff. Organizers said 592 companies from outside the U.S. attended the show — 16 percent more than any previous expo.

SMACNA announces mobile app improvements

SMACNA used the expo to debut two updated mobile applications: the Duct Air Leakage Calculator and an app based on its HVAC duct construction standards.

A small crowd of HVAC market and sheet metal works professionals gathered in one of the show’s “theaters” on the floor Jan. 26 to learn about the apps’ latest features.

Although the show floor crowd could still be seen — and heard — from the theater, most session attendees remained focused on the presenter, Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors’ National Association project manager Steve Watson, as he gave a detailed rundown of both tools.

The free duct-leakage app is designed to help HVAC contractors accurately estimate air escaping from ductwork. Watson says that that through this app, users can combine multiple sections of ductwork that vary by size and shape to calculate the surface area, leakage factor and a total allowable leakage.

The tool uses the method outlined in SMACNA’s HVAC Air Duct Leakage Manual, and provides suggested leakage classes from SMACNA’s latest edition of the manual.

New features

New features of the duct-leakage mobile app include: calculations can now be produced in English and metric units; the app produces final reports in PDF and Excel formats; project information and specifications can now be saved and edited; a new “Custom” shape section that allows the user to input dimensions for different duct shapes; and the new “surface area” tab can now be used in place of inputting specific dimensions (i.e., width, length, etc.) for duct.

The duct construction app provides HVAC market contractors with SMACNA-compliant options for rectangular duct with dimensions from 1 to 120 inches for applications from negative to positive 10-inch water gauge.

However, Watson said that the app does not provide every possible solution pertaining to ductwork fabrication.

“For instance, if you’re using reinforcements, the app doesn’t tell you how to install… or properly attach reinforcements to the duct,” he said.

A ductwork fabrication report — complete with detailed duct information including constraints, specific reinforcement locations, sizes that can be used to qualify for a specific reinforcement class, transverse joints and graphic representations — can be generated from the app, and users can either view the report on a screen or email it.

The information can also be saved and edited.  Watson says professionals involved with ductwork fabrication can make very good use of this application.

“I think it’s pretty neat (and) I think it’s very helpful for those who are involved in duct construction and use our (SMACNA’s) duct construction manual,” he said.

A record 480,000 square feet of floor space was taken up by 2,100 exhibitors.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel proclaimed it “Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Week” to mark the occasion.

Clay Stevens, president of the International Exposition Co., which manages the expo, said he was pleased that the event was so successful.

“Chicago is the site of some of our largest shows and we are thrilled that we set so many new records this year,” Stevens said. “These impressive results also show how vital AHR Expo is to the industry. We’ve had tremendous support from the 41 sponsors and endorsing associations that participate, as well as from our exhibitors who rely on the show to introduce new products and meet customers and prospects from around the world.”

The latest

Here are some of the HVAC market, sheet metal forming and ductwork fabrication products that were on display at this year’s show.

Lennox Industries Inc. promoted its variable refrigerant flow technology systems. The VRF line takes up less space, uses less energy and does not need as much structural modifications for installation, officials say.

Lennox also showed its Energence ultra-high-efficiency rooftop HVAC construction units. They offer light, quiet operation, officials said.

UV Resources showed its high-output Glo Upper Air Germicidal UV Fixture. It says the unit provides an industry-leading amount of ultraviolet-C spectrum light, which allows the germ-killing treatment of a wider area while saving energy. The wall-mounted unit can be quickly installed and kills airborne viruses, bacteria and mold spores.

Trane showed a range of HVAC market products at the AHR Expo, including its Sintesis air-cooled chiller, the Trane Tracer Concierge control system, Air-Fi wireless building controls and Water-Source VRF ductless system.  

“Our theme for 2015 is around putting intelligence to work in buildings,” said Dave Regnery, Trane’s commercial division president for North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “We are introducing new products, robust controls and services that, combined with Trane knowledge, make buildings run more efficiently.”


Ingersoll Rand, Trane’s parent company, announced its EcoWise portfolio of climate and industrial refrigerant products, which the company says was created to significantly reduce the environmental impact from its operations by 2030.

 “The Ingersoll Rand EcoWise portfolio is a demonstration of our commitment to reducing the impact on the environment and providing more sustainable product choices for our customers — particularly as they make the transition to products using next-generation, low-GWP (global warming potential) refrigerants,” said Didier Teirlinck, an executive vice president at Ingersoll Rand. “In addition to the series of products we are announcing today, the company will continue to introduce commercial, residential and transport HVAC, and transport refrigeration products that achieve the criteria for the EcoWise endorsement.”

Esab Welding and Cutting Products’ TurboTorch brand showed its complete nitrogen purge kit. By putting a low-pressure, low-volume dose of nitrogen to displace oxygen during copper brazing, better joints will result, officials say.

“Technicians can make excuses as to why they don’t nitrogen-purge prior to brazing, but purging is a best practice recommended by HVAC training institutions,” said Jake Meeker, TurboTorch brand manager.

Toolmaker Hilmor used the AHR Expo to introduce 90 hand tools, including models designed to help with sheet metal forming and ductwork fabrication.

“We added 20 products to our line of hand tools in 2014 to strong reviews, creating even more efficient and effective tools for HVACR technicians,” said senior marketing Vice President Rich Mathews. “Now we are bringing 90 new hand tools to our customers, underscoring our commitment to becoming the most complete tool provider to the professional endeavors of the men and women of the HVACR industry.”

Hilmor added 11 snips models to its product lineup. With high-carbon steel blades, the company’s aviation snips were made to be convenient and long lasting. Models with traditional and offset handles are available.

Nineteen new tools target sheet metal workers. An offset hand seamer uses steel blades with a durable, reinforced chrome silicon spring. Over-molded handles were created to reduce hand fatigue and prevent slipping or twisting. They also have a quarter-inch depth mark on the blades for quick bends.


Emerson Climate Technologies offers a monitoring service, ComfortGuard. Using 10 sensors, it allows homeowners to manage HVAC market equipment by providing real-time updates that can predict problems, prevent wasting energy and ensure comfort.

Steve Cox, vice president of residential retail at Emerson, said they want more contractors to offer the service.

“We are looking for contractors to join the ComfortGuard authorized network,” Cox said. “Our focus is on identifying key contractors in target geographies who have certified technicians, leverage advanced technology in their businesses and are very focused on customer service. We are very encouraged by the results in our test markets and look forward to working with an expanded group of contractors to bring this offering to their customers.”

Software maker FieldConnect Inc. showed its mobile products that target the HVAC market, including FieldAccess, FieldDispatch, FieldDirect and FieldGateway, which are designed to make scheduling work and dispatching easier.

Heat transfer products company Evapco Inc. used the AHR Expo to debut its AXS line of cooling towers, which feature cross-flow technology.

The 20 models range in size from 12 to 22 feet and are made of stainless steel. Capacities from 312 to 1,148 nominal tons are available.

“At Evapco, we are committed to being a lifelong partner for engineers and contractors, and that means continuing to deliver high-quality, high-performance solutions that meet all of their needs,” said North American sales Vice President James B. Facius. “By introducing AXS and adding cross-flow technology to our product offerings, we are again ensuring that we offer the best cooling tower for every possible site.”


HVAC construction, sheet metal products and software company Trimble had a number of items at its AHR booth. Trimble’s simplified Rapid Positioning System includes the Trimble RPT600 layout station and Trimble Field Link 2-D software to measure distances and find interior and exterior positions on the job.

“Building construction has unique needs and unique users,” said Bryn Fosburgh, a vice president responsible for Trimble’s construction technology divisions. “The system was designed from the start to enable the construction community to work with precision and reduce the need for rework, but without the specialized knowledge required to operate a solution designed for geospatial applications. This can give contractors more flexibility in staffing layout and as-built data-collection tasks.”

The company also promoted its AllTrak Cloud, a mobile software program designed for HVAC market mechanical, plumbing and electrical contractors. It helps contractors involved in HVAC construction or other projects to monitor materials and handle scheduling remotely.

Arzel Zoning Technology Inc. introduced its wireless application-powered zoning system, called Haven. It uses a patent-pending, energy-harvesting damper, which eliminates the need for lines or tubes and features wireless temperature controllers.

HVAC sales contractors use an app to install and configure the system, which features a dashboard for easy monitoring. A wall-mounted thermostat is not required.

After an absence of a few years, Haier returned to the AHR Expo with the FlexFit ductless system. It permits the mixing and matching of indoor units to single- and multi-zone outdoor units.

“We’re excited to debut the FlexFit line at AHR this year, as well as showcasing the broad array of products that Haier offers, from ductless systems and portable units to commercial applications,” said Gina Copeland, the company’s senior vice president and air quality business unit leader. “We hope to pave the way for Haier to serve as a key solutions provider in the HVAC space with these new product introductions.”

Switch, sensor and relay maker Standex-Meder Electronics highlighted its line of flood-prevention products. Its newest item, the eFPS, detects condensation over-flow and provides automatically shuts down the HVAC system.

Emerson brand Browning announced it had updated its Toolbox Technician mobile application with the HVAC Drive Kit Management module. The Apple and Android app was displayed at Emerson’s AHR booth.

Developed for HVAC construction contractors, mechanics and building owners, it allows users to scan a quick-response code on a blower drive or input data from the Browning drive kit label on the unit. Product information is available without the need to log in. Registered users can save the information, set automatic notifications and add relevant information.         

“The Toolbox Technician app has been in wide use since its introduction at the 2013 AHR show, and these upgrades will make it an important asset off the jobsite, as well as on,” said Ian Rubin, Emerson’s director of marketing for Sealmaster, System Plast and Browning-mounted bearings at the company’s Power Transmission Solutions division. “QR-code recognition of drive content, coupled with GPS-tagged locations and maintenance reminders turns the app into an information management and scheduling tool.

The goal is to improve the efficiency and profitability of the field service staff and reduce unplanned downtime for the customer. The upgrade adds other features requested by current users, such as a sheave interchange database. Bearing installation data is now cataloged by locking types for faster searches, and new installation tutorials have been added. We have also upgraded many of the popular modules in the new version, such as the belt-drive efficiency calculator, which now allows e-mailing of results. Building owners and facility managers can track drive assets in the same way, eliminating the need for logs stored in rooftop units.”


Maryland-based Production Products Inc. was talking about its LinerPro, a computer-numeric controlled acoustical liner-cutting machine. Made to minimize liner scrap, it can cut short fiber liner. Half-inch-thick liner can be cut at up to 1,000 inches per minute. One-inch-thick liner can be cut at 750 inches per minute and 2-inch-thick liner can be cut at 250 inches per minute. The traverse speed remains at 2,000 inches per minute. No more than one tool change per liner size is required.

Officials also talked about the company’s line of locks including the Condu-lock, Soring-lock and the Stud-lock. The locks are suitable for positive- and negative-pressure duct installations, company officials say.

Johnson Controls was introducing variable-refrigerant flow and building automation products for HVAC construction.

The ductless and modular HVAC VRF product heats and cools multiple building zones to increase energy savings, improve comfort, and lower HVAC construction costs, officials said. It features Hitachi’s high-efficiency compressors with energy modeling and selection tools to compare VRF to other HVAC market technologies.

“We recognize that heating and cooling strategies are not one-size-fits-all,” said Bill Jackson, president of Johnson Controls building efficiency division. “That’s why we’ve developed new digital selection and configuration tools that will help owners, operators and consultants compare heating and cooling solutions. When VRF is your best choice, our solution uses compressor technology that operates at unmatched efficiency levels.”

Johnson Controls also showed the new user interface for its Metasys HVAC construction building automation system, which connects HVAC, lighting, security and fire protection systems on one single platform.

“We’ve improved Metasys by making the tool more intuitive, easier to use and more mobile-friendly in today’s fast-paced world,” Jackson said. “The new interface transforms data into building intelligence to help owners and operators make better informed decisions to improve bottom lines and meet building needs.”


Ductwork fabrication fastener machinery manufacturer Gripnail Corp. was demonstrating the PowerPinner 7300 capacitor discharge welder and the insulated capacitor discharge weld pins designed to be used with it. The PowerPinner 7300 is made with weld-cupped head pins with shank diameters between 2 millimeters and 3.3 millimeters. The company says it’s heavy-duty, yet lightweight design makes it ideal for fastening insulation almost anywhere.

The pins feature an insulated cap and a sharp point for fast, consistent welds, officials add.

The model No. 451 Commercial DucTester from Retrotec was made to measure duct leakage in commercial HVAC construction systems up to 260 cubic feet per minute and weighs only 32 pounds. A comparable system weighs at least 120 pounds, the company said. It features what Retrotec said is the industry’s first touchscreen Wi-Fi gauge. It has a three-way speed control.

Plasma Automation was promoting its Vicon HVAC 510, a high-speed combination plasma liner-cutter machine. The unit can cut at up to 700 inches per minute — among the highest speeds in the industry, officials said.  

MKT Metal Manufacturing of Pennsylvania was promoting its products and capabilities. The company makes rectangular and gasketed spiral duct and fittings, including snap lock, slip-and-drive, double-wall and welded in a variety of gauges. It also offers the SPIRAmir self-sealing gasketed system for spiral ductwork. Duct can also be made with mill-applied Agion anti-microbial coatings.

Cain Manufacturing Co. Inc. was marking the company’s 80th anniversary and promoting its adhesives and sealants for flexible bonds in HVAC duct systems, as well as the company’s flexible duct connectors self-adhesive hangers.

Taloc USA, based in Grayslake, Ill., showed its C-7 series of clinching machines. The machine’s fastening process cuts out the need for spot welding, rivets or screws. Ideal for HVAC uses, options available include stroke lengths, raised tooling, double-punch tooling, reverse tooling and custom horns.

Regional Sheetmetal Manufacturing — aka RSM — was promoting its status as a sole manufacturer and distributor the SPIRAmir self-sealing spiral duct system that uses an O-ring gasket. The company is based in Dayton, Ohio.

Metalform Manufacturing Co. Inc. of Phoenix showed its line of dampers and louvers, which include commercial and round control dampers, shutters, counterbalanced backdraft dampers, extruded aluminum combination louvers, stationary and acoustical louvers as well as specialty application products.


The Pate Co. showed its roof curbs, support rails and HVAC construction equipment bases, which are designed to protect equipment and seal roofs from leaks.

Hart & Cooley used the expo to promote its line of flexible duct systems, which includes residential and commercial flexible air ducts, air connectors, sleeves and accessories. The flexible ducts come in two types: polyethylene jackets and metalized jackets.

The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based duct manufacturer also showed its line of residential grilles, registers and diffusers. The products are offered in steel, aluminum or plastic, and are designed for easy installation.

The company’s Ampco line of grease ducts now includes ZClear, which the company calls “the clear choice in grease ducts.” The factory-built kitchen grease duct has a zero-clearance rating and integrated chase construction. It comes in 3- and 4-inch wall thicknesses, has a 3-inch wall footprint and a two-hour fire rating. It includes a limited lifetime warranty.

It also showed its Ward Industries line of high-performance sheet metal and duct connection products, including dampers, hangers, strapping and sleeves.

Advance Cutting Systems representatives were on hand to demonstrate the company’s latest cutting technology, including the AutoFold machinery, Cutter-II, Jet-Liner-II, Cutter Plus and Precision Fire. The company also distributed its new HVAC product catalog.

Midwest Tool and Cutlery Co. was on hand to demonstrate its precise cutting aviation snip with a new hand-tool feature, the Kush’N-Power grip. The patent-pending grip is designed to keep the user’s hand safely above sharp edges of the material being cut, and includes a latch that keeps blades safely closed when the snip is not in use. The grip also includes a non-absorbent material and non-slip ridges to prevent palm or finger slippage.


Shurtape showed its line of Underwriters Laboratories-listed HVAC market duct-sealing tapes. The company’s all-weather foil tapes, flexible film tapes, cloth duct tapes and roll mastics work with duct board, flex duct and sheet metal, the company says.

Security Chimneys promoted its Secure Seal line of single- and double-wall special gas vent products. Available in SS, SSD, SSID and Flex models, it features a smooth, shielded weld seam and conforms to safety standards for horizontal, vertical, interior and exterior uses.

The SureLok III is a 25-inch throat machine and the newest products from Canada’s Norlok Technology Inc. The machine is made for all clinching applications and will fasten material from 14 gauge to 32 gauge. It has an adjustable 2 ½-inch stroke and is stainless steel ready.        

K-Flex USA’s Duct Liner Gray is a closed-cell, flexible elastomeric foam thermal and acoustic insulation. Environmentally friendly, it has an anti-microbial built in and can be used in temperatures down to minus 297°F and up to 220°F.

The HygroPalm23 is called “the perfect handheld instrument and calibrator for climatic measurements” by Rotronic. It offers interchangeable probes, an easy-to-understand interface and a display that makes information quick to spot. Ideal applications include HVAC construction, food industries, health care and paper products.


AXYZ International showcased its Ductmaker CNC routing system, which the company says has been designed to help revolutionize pre-insulated air duct construction in the HVAC market. Officials say the Ductmaker is ideal for processing phenolic foam sheets, and is able to easily replicate each component repeatedly.

General Tools & Instruments promoted its wet/dry video inspection systems at this year’s show. Designed for plumbers and contractors, the leak-proof inspections systems allow for the visual inspection of inaccessible or hazardous areas in order to identify and diagnose hidden problems without disassembly or teardown. Ideal use for these systems include examining toilets, broken water lines and sewer pipes, flooded basements and undersides of boats.

Kingspan Insulation officials were on hand to discuss the company’s KoolDuct system, designed for building services and HVAC applications, and suitable for new build and retrofit projects in the residential, commercial and light-industrial HVAC market sectors. Company officials say the pre-insulated rectangular HVAC ductwork system produces significantly less air-leakage rates than those of its competitors, enabling the system to offer advantages such as reduced energy use, operational carbon dioxide emissions and costs.

The Armacell booth was filled with literature and product displays of the company’s AP Armaflex custom fabricated fittings, offered in black and white. The fittings for pipe insulation systems provide thermal protection and condensation resistance. The white version, AP Armaflex W, also minimizes the need for priming or painting in interior applications.


Fieldpiece Instruments used this year’s show to announce its new diagnostic mobile application for Apple devices: Job Link. The wireless, real-time app allows HVAC market technicians to view live measurements, get insightful diagnostics, create professional reports and email findings to the office and customer.

“Techs will find this app particularly useful as it links the technical and the business aspects of the field tech’s job,” said project manager Russ Harju. “Once it’s set up, the field technician will use Job Link on most jobs he works on as a way to make adjustments based on live measurements, and keep track of critical information such as customer details, system information, measured values, and checks performed.”

The company also showed its clamp meter line, known as the SC series. Models range from the SC200, SC400 and SC600 and include features such as a magnetic hanger, dual display, a magnetic strap, a backlight dial, lead storage and a swivel-head clamp, depending on model.

Thermaflex was present to discuss its line of insulated flexible duct for the commercial HVAC market. The duct line, which includes EverClean, MKE and KM models, provides a series of advantages such as reduced installation cost, advanced insulation and thermal performance, self-extinguishing capabilities, easily shaped to fit oval inlets and fittings, not unraveling when cut, suitable for air venting and drying applications, complies with most state and federal standards and codes, and may help contribute to meeting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design requirements.


Also in attendance to talk about its QuickDuct CAM Master nesting software was ShopData Systems. The company says its computer-aided manufacturing software eliminates the manual effort from job takeoff, tooling, nesting and downloading. The program includes an HVAC fittings library complete with a series of 2-D fabrication shapes to help HVAC technicians design, input, nest and cut their own fittings and parts. The HVAC software is also customizable, allowing users to design their own reports, labels and more.

Cleveland Tool and Machine representatives were present to educate attendees on the company’s series of automatic elbow machines. The machinery is designed to produce high-quality straight elbows, which the company says can be hand turned to any angle between zero and 90 degrees. The machines also come equipped with a full set of tooling to produce different sizes of elbows.

Present to introduce its new line of industrial fans, AirVolution-D, was fan manufacturer MacroAir. AirVolution-D is powered by a new motor technology called D-Drive, which is the world’s first compact electric motor capable of handling the consistent torque requirements of a 24-foot-diameter industrial fan.

 “MacroAir invented the HVLS fan, so it’s only fitting that MacroAir would be the company that reinvents it,” said company President Eddie Boyd. “AirVolution-D is the most cost-efficient fan we’ve ever built because everything from installation, to operation, to maintenance costs have been dramatically improved. It creates a more comfortable and healthy environment for employees and customers in spaces like warehouses, offices, restaurants, public spaces and farms. The applications are endless.”

Presenting the latest additions to its ACT line of split-core current transformers was Continental Control Systems.

 “Available in both standard and high-accuracy options… our customers will appreciate all of the Accu-CT’s features, designed into a unique split-core current transformer at an affordable price,” said Cynthia A. Boyd, director of sales for Continental Control Systems.


Flexible duct supports, offset snips and pan-style mini-brakes were among the items Malco Products Inc. had on hand at its AHR Expo booth. The snips were made to maneuver easily in tight areas and have a serrated edge of forged steel. The 48-inch mini-brake allows shop-quality pans and boxes to be made on construction sites, officials say.

The TechAnywhere software was also being promoted by Data-Basics Inc. at the show. The field-service software provides field technicians with remote access to send and receive work orders using Android-based wireless devices. The software provides benefits such as increased accuracy, improved efficiency, real-time access to information and more.

Fast-Rite International was present to talk about its Flash-Point self-drilling screw. Designed specifically for the HVAC market, this high-performance fastener provides decreased production labor and installation time, allowing for faster production lines.

Jupiter, Fla.-based air-filtration products manufacturer Fresh-Aire UV introduced its new control panel for commercial ultraviolet system monitoring at the expo. The module is compatible with most building automation systems, and features a front panel hour meter that displays a real-time UV lamp life and alerts users when a replacement lamp is needed.

Ebm-Papst demonstrated the company’s NRV series product line of pneumatic gas air ratio control systems at the expo. Part of the company’s boiler technology line, the NRV 77 assembly includes a low-noise, long-life, modulating, premix ready gas combustion blower, zero-pressure gas valve that is designed to deliver a measured air-fuel ratio to the boiler’s premix burner.

Milwaukee Tool introduced its M18 cordless, metal-cutting shears, which the company says delivers maximum control and versatility.

 “Cordless shears are the No.1 most requested tool from Milwaukee by mechanical and HVAC professionals, but rather than quickly putting a tool on the market that mirrored competitive units, we took our time to deliver true innovation in the category,” said Milwaukee marketing director Andrew Plowman. “With a revolutionary in-line wrist design, users will be able to push through cuts from behind the tool for better control during use, and with the new innovative tool-free, 360-degree rotating head, users will be able to easily adjust their tool to cut in tight spaces from any orientation.”

The hand-tool manufacturer also used the show to announce its next generation of tape measures, which the company says deliver 10 times longer life than the competition. Available in lengths of 16 and 25 inches, the new tape measures feature a wider base, hook design and a wire form belt clip for secure storage and reduced pocket tearing.

 “When we originally introduced Milwaukee’s lineup of tape measures in 2013, we focused on delivering innovative solutions to our mechanical, plumbing and electrical contractors,” said Brandon Miller, group marketing manager. “As a result of our user-focused research and success of our initial lineup of tape measures, this new series seeks to deliver innovative solutions to a wider group of users, such as general contractors and remodelers, to capture a larger segment of the market.”


Rosenberg promoted its E-Series fan at the show. The fan’s impeller design produces high energy efficiency and significantly reduces operating noise levels. It also features blades for high flow and low- to medium-pressure applications such as computer room air conditioning and air handling, energy recovery ventilation, energy recovery units and box- and roof-fans.

RLS LLC used the expo to introduce its RLS refrigeration press fittings. The patent-pending fittings replace the process of manually brazing copper joints, saving time, reducing total installed cost, improving consistency and significantly increasing safety by eliminating the need for an open flame.

Also present at the show was Canadian manufacturer Airia Brands Inc., who introduced its 130ERVR, the latest model in its series of Lifebreath high-performance energy recovery ventilators. The compact, easy-to-install ERV includes a wall control for accessing both air exchange and recirculation features. 

Celebrating its 25-year anniversary, Center, Texas-based Portacool LLC used the show to announce the launch of its corporate rebranding. Company officials say the new tagline, “When comfort counts,” represents the company’s dedication to worksite safety, productivity, sustainability and social responsibility.

“This is an important and exciting time for the life of our company,” said company CEO Ben Wulf. “What started as a single product transformed into a company shaped by committed personnel and strong relationships. Our company is now at the forefront of driving innovation in the portable cooling solutions industry, as well as working closely with manufacturers of fixed cooling solutions to increase efficiency.”

Gripple promoted its pipe bracket and twist clamp system at the show. Advantages of the system include quick and easy installation, reduced labor time and cost, versatility, compatibility, improved safety and flexibility.

Introducing the latest addition to its commercial HVAC market portfolio was heat pump manufacturer Bell & Gossett. The company says its Suction Diffuser Plus uses patent-pending Flow Cone technology to provide ideal flow conditions for the pump. The flow-straightening device helps pumps maintain efficiency, improving flow conditions and eliminating recirculation zones, which reduces energy waste.

Fabric duct

DuctSox was also present to demonstrate its SkeleCore Pull-Tight fabric ductwork. The patent-pending fabric retention and suspension system utilizes a combination of internal hoops and tensioning baskets to help maintain fabric shape and retention. Company officials say Pull-Tight improves start-up performance and aesthetics when compared with competing suspension systems.

The HVAC air dispersion systems manufacturer also introduced its OvalSox, designed for low-clearance HVAC ventilation and commercial building applications. The company says the fabric duct is superior to its metal counterpart because it offers a variety of air-dispersion options including air-porous fabric, linear vents, nozzles and orifices.

Sumner Manufacturing Co. Inc. had some of its material lifts on display at the show. The series of equipment includes the Roust-A-Bout R-Series, Series 2000 material lifts, Series 2100 contractor lifts, Series 2200 Lil’ Hoister, Series 2300 drywall/HVAC lift, EL-405 stacker lift, Series 2400 contractor lift, Fab-Mate and gantry lifts.

Elite Software attended the expo to discuss its Ductsize program, which allows users to design a complete duct system. The software includes the ability to calculate various duct sizes, a built-in fan library for noise calculations, program input and output, a customizable toolbar and more.

Beckett Air Inc., manufacturer of blower wheels, introduced a new line of lateral blower wheels at the show. According to the company, the new series provides original equipment manufacturers with lower cost and labor, highly consistent product quality and U.S.-based manufacturing. Michael Hashem, vice president of business development, said the company’s new assembly process called the AutoFlex system shortened the wheels’ production startup times dramatically.

“The AutoFlex process combines the cost benefits of automated assembly with the customer advantages of flexible design,” said Hashem. “By flexibility, I mean the new process allows for short runs of several hundred or very large runs of thousands of pieces but with low upfront capital investment in either case. Customers also have a number of choices for materials and after-assembly options. Wheels produced on the AutoFlex process are based on a design with an excellent quality record having hundreds of thousands of units in service. We are very excited to bring this breakthrough process capability to the industries that we have served for over twenty five years.”

The Enduradrive fan system was promoted by Baltimore Aircoil Co. at this year’s show. Available exclusively with the Series 3000 cooling tower, the fan system provides reliability and superior energy savings with low maintenance costs, the company says.

“The industry has been looking for a more reliable system than the gear-drive systems while providing the lowest total cost of ownership,” said Brad Considine, global vice president of sales and marketing. “BAC continues to strive to give our customers the most innovative, energy-efficient, maintenance-friendly and reliable solutions.”

Heidtman Steel Products attended the expo to discuss its quick-ship program. The company says its HVAC market customers can order sheet metal products that are already in stock and ready to be shipped within 24 hours of order placement.

Carlisle HVAC Products informed show attendees of its RS-100 spray duct sealant as well as its RE-500 insulation encapsulant and coating for HVAC ductwork. Designed to be internally sprayed, RS-100 water-based sealant is flexible and smooth, providing resistance to mold and mildew growth. Low in volatile organic compounds, the RE-500 semi-gloss finish provides a surface that will prevent debris accumulation that could lead to mold growth.

R-Foil was present to talk about its product offerings, which include the Reflective and Big-8 duct insulation. Both models are manufactured from a double layer of polyethylene bubble and are designed to reduce radiant heat gain and loss in residential and commercial HVAC duct applications.

Mestek Machinery took 15 machines to the AHR show floor, each one of them powered and ready to fully demonstrate for potential customers.  Among the popular machinery on display were the Vulcan 1600WJ waterJet by Lockformer, the D-Max 1.6 high-speed tubeformer by ISM and Lockformer, and the Pro-Ductomatic coil line by Iowa Precision.

 The Weksler Model D960 air duct thermometer from Ashcroft was also being promoted at the show. Equipped with a slotted stem and flange, the D960 can be mounted directly onto HVAC system ductwork. 

AHR hands out Innovation Awards

A compressor from Danfoss was named the Product of the Year in the 2015 AHR Expo Innovation Awards.

The Danfoss Turbocor VTT (Variable Twin Turbo) series compressor received the award at a Jan. 27 ceremony that took place during the Jan. 26-28 AHR Expo at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center.

It was also the winner of an Innovation Award in the green building category.

Designed for water-cooled chillers at a capacity of 350 tons per compressor, the units are oil-free, variable speed, magnetic bearing centrifugal compressors ideal for commercial HVAC market air-conditioning or process cooling chillers up to 1,000 tons or more.

Ricardo Schneider, president and CEO’s of Danfoss’ Turbocor compressor division, thanked the organizers for the award.

“We are honored by this prestigious industry recognition,” “As the pioneer and world leader in oil-free, variable speed, magnetic bearing compressor technology, Danfoss remains committed to innovative engineering that helps to shape the HVACR industry, redefines expectations for energy efficiency and strives to meet future challenges and standards.”

Winners were selected by a committee of American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers members on design, application, HVAC market impact and HVAC sales value. The contest is sponsored by ASHRAE; the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute; and the International Exposition Co.

“Danfoss and all the winners of the AHR Expo Innovation Awards deserve special recognition for their efforts to lead the way in achieving greater energy efficiency,” said International Exposition Co. President Clay Stevens, which produces and manages the AHR Expo. “The Innovation Awards program gives back to the industry in so many ways.”

The other winners and categories were:

Building automation: The AspectFT Web-enabled building automation system from American Auto-Matrix.

Cooling: EZ-In muni-split cable from Southwire Co.

Indoor air quality: DuraMax 4vS-16 mini-pleat filter from Koch Filter Corp.

Heating: The H2i MXZ multi-zone heat pump from Mitsubishi Electric US Inc. Heating and Cooling Division.

Plumbing: NPE-S Series condensing gas tankless water heater from Navien Inc.

Refrigeration: Limitrol Plus head pressure control from KeepRite Refrigeration.

Tools and instruments: Smart Service tool kit wireless temperature sensor and clamps made by the Sporlan division of Parker Hannifin Corp.

Software: The Fluke Connect smartphone application from Fluke Corp.

Ventilation: Coolerado ERV50 energy recovery ventilator and super cooling system from Coolerado Corp.

Entry fees from this year’s awards competition — $16,400 — were given to Chicago-based social services organization Metropolitan Family Services. Officials with the 157-year-old group said it would use the proceeds to buy a boiler and HVAC components for a facility that serves 7,000 people each year.

“Every year we select a local not-for-profit organization from the area where the show is being held to receive the entry fees from the AHR Expo Innovation Awards,” Stevens said. “It is especially meaningful when this donation can be used for such a worthwhile purpose as improving the lives of families in need by using the HVAC technology seen at the show.”

Metropolitan Family Services was also given the entry fees from the 2012 AHR Expo. It used that money to purchase new rooftop HVAC controls, which saved the group thousands on its energy bills, expo organizers said.

“We are very grateful for such a generous donation once again from AHR Expo,” said Metropolitan Family Services President and Chief Executive Officer Ricardo Estrada. “It not only helps us provide a more comfortable environment for those families we serve, it also allows us to save valuable funds that can now be applied towards other critical services.”

The AHR Expo Innovation Awards have been responsible for more than $140,000 in donations to nonprofits, officials said.