ISH 2011, taking place every other year in Frankfurt, Germany, is the world’s largest plumbing-heating trade fair. This year’s version was held March 15-19 and marked my sixth trip to the extravaganza, but the first one since 2003. It was a déjà vu experience for the most part, especially the crowds (204,000), the lavish and seemingly endless exhibits (2,355 exhibitors spanning 10 halls, plus outside displays spread out over 1.5 million square feet), and the inevitable sore feet from covering all that ground each day.
Attendance was down a bit from the record-setting days of the booming late ’90s and early 2000s when up to 230,000 people showed up. However, it’s a welcome sign of global economic recovery that visitation increased a bit from 2009 when “only” 201,000 visitors made their way to ISH. Show organizer Messe Frankfurt noted that foreign visitation from outside of Germany jumped six percentage points in 2011 to around 71,000 visitors, about 35% of the total. This indicates travel budgets are on the upswing.
Here are excerpts from my notebook about some of the products and other phenomena that made this reporter’s eyes pop and mind boggle visiting the plumbing-related exhibits. Hydronics Editor John Siegenthaler has written a companion piece assessing heating technology coming out of ISH 2011, which begins on page 28.