Go big, or go home

My first time at ISH, the world’s biggest trade show for energy, plumbing, heating and cooling

Can the world’s biggest trade show for our industry get bigger? Apparently so. ISH 2015 set a new record for the number of exhibitors and visitors at the show. Final figures reported by the show organizer, Messe Frankfurt, revealed that 2,465 exhibitors were on hand (compared to 2,436 in 2013) to accommodate 198,000 attendees (compared to 187,579 in 2013).

This was my first time attending the show, which took place from March 10-14 at the Frankfurt am Main Fair and Exhibition Center. I attended on March 12 and 13, and made sure that those two days packed a punch!

Sheer size

It should come as no surprise that as a first-time attendee, not only the size of ISH itself, but also the sizes of booths within the show left me a bit shocked. Despite all of the warnings that I received from co-workers, readers and more, you just can't quite imagine ISH.

GROHE was more than an introduction to just how large booths can be at ISH. That’s because GROHE did not just have a booth, they had an entire hall. The hall included sections of new technology, such as foam baths, and a professional’s focus, “Work Smarter,” which looked at solutions for public sanitary facilities. One of the bathroom offerings that GROHE called special attention to is SmartControl. The comfort-centric technology features a newly-designed push button with “on” and “off” functionality and volume control for the shower. SmartControl is available as part of the GROHE Rainshower system, which includes a head shower and hand shower set. The GROHE Professional section of the hall was created specifically for fitters, installers and other tradespeople attending the show. In the section's “Genius Bar,” GROHE experts were available to answer questions and explain functions through different installation scenarios. The section was a bite-size version of what guests experience on the GROHE Work Smarter Tour, where hands-on activities give installers and fitters a better understanding of GROHE products and services. For about nine months, two trailers equipped with more than 70 products tour Europe, making one stop per day.

Buderus also had a huge presence at the show, with aisles of their offerings on display, movie-theater-size presentation screens and larger-than-life presenters to fill the space. The brand message at the booth highlighted the company’s ability to produce durable products that are “classic, innovative and sustainable by design.” And it seems this company’s presence was not just grand at the show, but also throughout Germany. I saw the “Buderus” name stamped on quite a few drains and in a few of the mechanical rooms I visited while in the cities of Frankfurt, Heidelberg and Attendorn.

Going global

One of the highlights of the show for me was getting a world view of our industry. TOTO’s booth spotlighted its global reach. The booth theme was, “technology to move you.” The Tornado Flush technology was featured. It is a re-imagination of the pour down flush. While the technology allows for a quiet flush, powerful jets create a vortex that cleans the rim and the bowl effectively to eliminate bacteria, and ultimately to offer efficiency by saving water. The technology goes hand-in-hand with TOTO’s Washlet, an integrated bidet toilet that the company developed in the 1980s. The electric toilet seat, which incorporates a water spray feature for washing, is popular in Japan.

At the Viega booth, I learned a new phrase: outside the wall. Typically, I see their offerings in the U.S. that make up plumbing, heating and cooling systems. At ISH, it was nice to see that there is more to the Viega name than what’s behind the wall. During ISH, Viega launched new drains for the European market that are scalable to individual installations, as well as drains that adhere where the wall meets the floor. At the booth, I was also able to see pre-wall technology that Viega has for toilets and sinks in the European market. The technology caters to multi-generational homes, and allows toilets and sinks to be raised and lowered.


ISH really is a show for all of the senses; a true experience. The hospitality from each exhibitor really stuck with me. I was first able to take in the bars, snacks and networking that is typical of the majority of the ISH booths while visiting with Aquatherm. Everyone from the Rosenberg family to curious customers could be seen mingling over Krombacher beers.

Beautiful design also caught my eye at the show. As a bath fanatic, I must admit that I was temporarily dazed in GRAFF’s spa collection. The motto of their booth was, “water for people.” This message was brought to life with displays that spotlighted the blend of modern and sustainable technology that meets everyday needs. One product featured was the Ametis Ring, of the Ametis collection, which uses a full spectrum, LED RGB chromotherapy lighting system with six colors and indirect light. The showerhead features both a rain function and waterfall jet function.

Versatility of design was the theme at FRANKE’s booth. Each section of the booth highlighted bathroom offerings for the variety of spaces that FRANKE has product offerings, such as office buildings, athletic facilities and elementary schools. FRANKE aimed to show the impact it makes on businesses through its developments in sanitary equipment, furniture and accessories, taps, showers and flushing systems.


With the big booths at ISH came big teams. It was not uncommon to see at least five techs going through applications and offerings. In addition to techs, Hansgrohe also had a design center with computers and sketching paper for attendees to utilize. Hansgrohe and its sister company Axor presented 400-plus new products at the show. Hansgrohe also received a product award from the German Central Association Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning for its washbasin mixer, Talis Select S, as well as the Design Plus Award for the Talis Select S and the washbasin mixer, Axor Starck V.

The techs as well as the “best-practices” feeling made the Geberit booth experience very hands-on. In the clean disposal section, attendees could see various cases for drainage systems. There was also a section on reliable water supply connections and another on bundled piping systems.

Into the future

It was not hard to gather that Bosch’s booth featured an energy theme after catching a glimpse of their oversized infographic. The company’s messaging centered on their products being, “modular, efficient, and smart,” in order to facilitate easy planning and installation. Bosch spotlighted its new Master Energy Control (MEC) System of steam, hot water and combined heat and power (CHP) products. Through intelligent systems, direct communication can take place between components to ensure higher system efficiency and extended lifetime. The MEC’s optional remote connection also allows users and Bosch experts to access the system from anywhere.

Energy was also a focus at the Viessmann booth. The company went with the motto, “Hybrid - Connect - Power,” and each part of the motto was showcased in a section of the booth marked by tall graphic towers. In the Hybrid section, Viessmann displayed its systems that combine condensing and heat pump technology. The systems offer efficiency and renewability through operation optimization. The Connect section focused on networked building energy management. Attendees were able to take a look at how the Internet grants users mobile access for operating equipment and managing energy use. Over in the Power section, attendees learned about the production, usage and storage of natural steam, as well as the possibilities of operating heat pumps with self-generated solar electricity. As an example, Viessmann presented its fuel cell heating Vitovalor 300-P, which produces environmentally-friendly heat and electricity.


In addition to my time in Frankfurt, I was also afforded the opportunity to spend time in Heidelberg and Attendorn to learn more about Viega and Aquatherm. In Heidelberg, I enjoyed a city walking tour, castle sightseeing and authentic German dining. Additionally, there was much to do in Attendorn, from lodging in a castle and the new Hanse Hotel, to facility tours and barbecues.

You can get my full recap of my time with Viega and Aquatherm by checking for our May Digital Edition and Website-Exclusives section at www.plumbignengineer.com. There will be original photography and video, and updates from key team members at each company! n

The next ISH will be held at the Frankfurt am Main Fair and Exhibition Center in Frankfurt, Germany, on March 14-18, 2017. Visit www.ish.messefrankfurt.com.

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