IIAR Shatters Attendance Records, Sets New Goals at Annual Conference

The International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration drew record attendance again this year at the 37th Annual IIAR Conference & Exhibition, an event that marked a variety of transitions and new initiatives for the association this year.

IIAR members and conference attendees took advantage of the technical knowledge and resources available on the exhibition hall floor and at technical program presentations over the three days of networking and industry sponsored events.

“This year’s conference was very successful on so many levels,” said IIAR Conference Chairman Mark Stencel. “We saw another record turnout and boasted our largest exhibit floor to date.”

“I would like to thank each and every company who provided the important financial support for IIAR through their participation at this conference and to send a special thank you to all the companies that encourage and support the essential volunteer work of our members.”

The conference, which was held in San Diego, March 22 – 25, drew over 1,500 attendees, many of whom were new to the event.

IIAR President Dave Rule said the organization saw a continued increase in international attendance at this year’s event, illustrating the growing momentum of natural refrigerants around the world.

“The IIAR conference draws refrigeration professionals from all across the United States and increasingly from around the world,” said Rule. “This international gathering of the key decision-makers in our industry is the perfect opportunity to network and learn from colleagues from all corners of the globe.”

In support of that growing international presence, the conference featured an international program with technical paper presentations in Portuguese, Spanish, and Mandarin.

In addition, all technical papers presented in English were offered with simultaneous interpretation in Spanish and all international language presentations were given with simultaneous interpretation in English.

Meanwhile, the international presence and the growing diversity of technology in the industry could be seen on the exhibit hall floor, where a number of new companies, new technologies, equipment and services were on display.

“The exhibit hall floor was very impressive this year in terms of the quality and diversity of the products on display,” said Rule. “Our industry is growing and evolving to meet the needs of new customers, new markets and new demands on efficiency.”

That theme was also on display throughout IIAR’s technical program, which featured presentations, experiential workshops, and interactive panels on topics ranging from global refrigerant trends to low charge ammonia systems.

“I want to extend a special thanks to our members whose participation and collaboration in exchanging information, experience and expertise made this conference such an incredible learning event,” said Rule. “The paper authors, workshop presenters and panel participants who develop these presentations are all an integral part of making this such a great event.”

Continuing the tradition of offering a special Sunday afternoon training session, IIAR this year introduced the IIAR CO2: Design and Application in Industrial Refrigeration educational program. The condensed learning experience was designed to instruct attendees on the basic engineering principles needed to design a variety of energy efficient CO2 systems.

“CO2 is getting a lot of attention these days. So much new technology is being developed in this area. From new designs in valves to applications in new markets, we felt that the March conference represented the perfect opportunity to focus on this area of our industry and offer new training resources,” said Stencel.

A focus on CO2 and low charge systems, one of the always popular subjects being discussed at this year’s conference, underscored a growing conversation about efficiency and charge levels.

“Many new components and systems are changing the industry and making it more efficient, and that will grow ever more important in the coming years as the industry looks for ways to control energy costs and minimize the impact the regulatory environment can have on operations,” said Rule.

In fact, the central message of this year’s event is that the world is moving toward natural refrigerants, he added.

“It’s an exciting time in our industry, a time of change. As regulations and technologies evolve at a breakneck pace, we’re seeing new opportunities and applications like never before. We are truly an industry in transition.”

During his keynote address to IIAR members, Rule said three central trends are having an impact on the business environment in the natural refrigerants sector.

First, CO2 technologies, long considered something of an outlier from a technology perspective, are moving into the mainstream and opening the door in new commercial arenas, such as supermarkets.

Second, low-charge systems are expanding the natural refrigerants marketplace by introducing new industrial and commercial applications for ammonia.

And finally, the phase-out of R-22 in the United States, and the broader F-gas phase-out underway in the European Union, is starting to influence decision processes in the commercial and industrial markets.

In the coming years, IIAR will evolve with these trends by guiding the industry in standards development and code adoption, activities Rule called central to the mission of the organization.

He added that IIAR has recently completed and released for publication the IIAR-4 standard, covering system installation, and IIAR-8, which covers system decommissioning. The IIAR-2 standard on ammonia safety design has been in development and is expected to be released for ANSI approval and publication within a few months.

Meanwhile, IIAR is in the process of creating several new member tools and services, including a dedicated website portal to deliver access to customized IIAR information and resources to the end-user community; a regulatory website portal to provide easy access to essential industry standards, guidelines, and training materials; and a member app designed to facilitate easy access to technical publications and services.

Along with the new initiatives, IIAR said it is continuing its strong commitment to advocacy and education, re-committing to a five-year formal alliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, and partnering with the Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association, RETA, to identify ways to grow the industry’s pool of new talent.

Rule said that the renewal of the alliance with OSHA and the organization’s new work with RETA will help IIAR more closely coordinate industry activities to help inform the regulatory process.

“Our relationships with regulatory agencies like OSHA, EPA and DHS as well as our many strong ties with other organizations within this industry are invaluable,” he said, adding that all three agencies participated in IIAR’s 2015 conference as guest panelists on a special regulatory panel.

Looking forward, this year’s conference set IIAR up to pursue a number of exciting projects and work goals, thanks in no small part to the hard work of its staff and membership, said Rule.

We’re thankful for “the talents and resources that our members bring to this organization, especially the effort of all of our staff in making such a large event a great success,” he said.

“We’re getting ready for another great show in Orlando next year,” he said. “And we’re excited to carry the energy of our sponsors, exhibitors and members into the next IIAR event.”

IIAR’s 2016 Industrial Refrigeration Conference & Exhibition will be held March 20 – 23 in Orlando, Florida.