Every six months or so, typically on a lazy Sunday, I will scroll through the contacts in my iPhone. I see the names and numbers of so many friends and family members and remind myself that I need to give them a call and catch up.

Sadly, either my laziness or whatever is on the television usually keeps me from actually placing a phone call to one of those people. This is something I plan on working on to stay better connected to the people who mean the world to me.

That intro is a sappy way to get to my thoughts on the 2016 AHR Expo held Jan. 25-27 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. (For a full show report, read here.)

Staying connected was one of the major themes I took away while walking the six football fields’ worth of space that made up the exhibitor floor. Manufacturers such as Lochinvar (with its CON-X-US), Navien (with its NaviLink technology) and IBC Technologies (with its IBC V-10 touchscreen boiler controller) displayed technology that provides engineers, contractors and end users the option of real-time monitoring of a system’s performance.

This technology was something I noticed at my first AHR Expo back in 2012. It was quite amazing to see how it has evolved and how many options engineers now have to spec for their designs. Considering all the other information we have at our fingertips via our smartphones — ranging from breaking news to your cousin’s political Facebook post — understanding how a boiler is working in the moment is incredibly important.

What do you think will be the next major technological advancement at the 2017 AHR Expo in Las Vegas this coming January?

I have many other thoughts on the show rattling around in my brain and scribbled in my notebooks. 

  • I can say with authority that the stories I heard were true – the AHR Expo audience travels well. The event was full of people, excitement and interesting new products. The showcase for the heating and cooling industry was not tempered by the fact that a major portion of the U.S. – the Northeast, an especially key market for the hydronics industry – was crippled with inclement weather and travel delays.
  • That said, I’m not sure Orlando is an ideal place to hold a convention of this size. Obviously, there are plenty of hotels (which is critical), but traveling to offsite events, dinners and meetings is frustrating. Worse yet, it is expensive. Having Uber helped, but if you wanted to take a traditional taxi you had to negotiate a fair price since there were not many meters in the cabs I took around town. I am not a confrontational person and this was an extra hoop I would prefer not to jump through. 
  • Even in the waning hours of the show Wednesday, there were a surprising number of attendees still checking out products and connecting with industry contacts. At each booth visit, I will ask a general “How is the show going for you?” question. During this year’s AHR Expo, more often than not the response was, “It has been great.”

Obviously there is no science behind these observations, but at least the industry is being proactive and feeling positive about itself.

Let’s hope it carries over to next year in Sin City.