A trio from SELECT recently joined the Electrical Distributors’ Association (EDA) delegation at the Light + Building exhibition in Frankfurt. Among them was Head of Technical Services, Dave Forrester, who kept a diary of his fascinating two-day visit…
DAY 1: EDINBURGH-PARIS-FRANKFURT
We had a very early start in Edinburgh to catch the 06:10 Air France flight to Paris CDG that would then take us onwards to Frankfurt – more on that later. Having successfully negotiated airport security we headed for the boarding gate and made ourselves comfortable on the aircraft, an Embraer 190 for those of an aviation disposition. The flight itself was uneventful with smooth skies and reasonable onboard catering. We were slightly delayed, which would make the short 45-minute transfer in Paris interesting, but the cabin crew were very helpful in providing us a map and directions as to where we should go upon arrival. So we disembarked the aircraft, boarded a bus to the terminal and were happily subjected to a second round of security checks before getting back on another bus to take us to our next flight. As we trundled around the airfield things started to look very familiar. “Are we heading back the way we came?” I said. “Wouldn’t it be funny if we got back on the same aircraft” said Kevin. Well that’s exactly what happened. In fact, as we climbed the steps to board the same aircraft we had disembarked the cabin crew gave us a wee smile of recognition and claimed that while they knew we’d be back, they were sworn to secrecy in case we decided we would stay right where we were.
Once we were settled in our seats, the captain announced a short delay due to weather conditions in Frankfurt – there was snow on the ground! In fact, the overnight temperature in Frankfurt had been a chilly -7°C. The delay was indeed short, and before long we were on our way again for the second leg of the journey. One of the joys of travelling from Edinburgh is the dearth of direct flights to most European destinations. A recent survey published by a leading newspaper found that the most popular destination for those departing Scotland’s airports is London. Perhaps that’s because we have to fly there to get anywhere else!
We arrived in Frankfurt to a slightly underwhelming volume of snow on the ground, but it was still cold. We would encounter our next drama at the baggage carousel. Kevin and I had taken cabin baggage only, but Kenny had checked his case into the aircraft hold. As we waited…and waited…and waited at the baggage carousel it became clear that Kenny’s case would not be joining him in Frankfurt – not today anyway. So Kenny headed for the baggage claim desk to find out where his case was. “It will be on the next available flight from Paris,” the desk clerk said. At least it had made it to Paris. (It would arrive at our hotel sometime later that day.)
We had arrived in Frankfurt at Terminal 2 and our hotel, The Hilton Garden Inn is near Terminal 1. The scale of the infrastructure servicing Frankfurt Airport is impressive. We needed to take a monorail from T2 to T1, then walk a considerable distance to the hotel. Walking would become a major feature of the two-day visit to Light + Building.
We were met at the hotel by EDA representatives, allocated our rooms and then issued with a lanyard to carry our Tulip VIP passes in. This pass would give us access to the entire Light + Building exhibition, as well as allowing us unrestricted travel on the Frankfurt railway network to and from the exhibition centre.
Our first port of call at the Messe Frankfurt Light + Building 2018 was a private welcome and lunch from Hans Hanegreefs, Secretary General of the European Union of Electrical Wholesalers. As we were one of the few groups representing electrical contractors, Hans was interested in our relationship with the EDA in the UK and was pleased to see us accompanying our wholesaler colleagues.
After short visits to the Lutron, Sylvania, Megaman and Kosnic Lighting stands, we headed for the Eaton Electric stand where we saw a demonstration of their latest arc fault detection devices, particularly relevant given their inclusion in the forthcoming 18th Edition of BS 7671.
After being turned away at the Philips stand, the formal part of the day ended with a tour of the impressive LEDVANCE and Thorn lighting exhibits, where we saw a range of domestic and commercial/industrial lighting applications at the cutting edge of design and LED technology.
The informal conclusion to the day saw dinner and drinks at the Ranch & Sea Steakhouse, hosted by the Lighting Industry Association before heading back to our hotel to take the weight off our overworked feet. (The three of us walked a combined total of 20 miles and around 45,000 steps that day, as recorded on our phones.)
The day started a little fuzzy, but with a hearty breakfast we were ready to face the exhibition one last time. After checking out of the hotel, we headed back to the Messe Frankfurt by rail to visit our first stand of the day.
The ZVEH e-Haus is a trend-setting example of intelligently networked building technology. The functions shown in the E-Haus are based on the latest technology, are field-tested and are regularly updated. The E-Haus is supported by 60 partners from around the electrotechnical sector. We were quite excited to see this example of German technological innovation and it certainly delivered on our expectations.
From there, we were taken to the Hager stand where we were shown their latest smart controls and lighting technology, and also received a demonstration of their arc fault detection devices. Then it was on to the Siemens stand for more product demonstrations, including Siemens’ use of virtual reality to inspect switchgear and motor performance without the need to gain access to the equipment.
The formalities of Day Two finished with lunch and a look around the OBO Betterman stand. OBO Betterman is an EDA affiliate, but not a manufacturer that any of our group were particularly familiar with. The company is more than 100 years old and has manufacturing plants all over the world. It produces a vast range of products for any scale of project you can imagine and it was certainly worthwhile spending our last hour on their stand.
We had a couple of hours free time to spend at the exhibition before heading back to the airport for our return flights, so I took the opportunity to walk around some of the smaller stands on the periphery of the main halls. There is so much innovation going on in the lighting and controls sector that it can be hard to keep up. There are a myriad of smaller manufacturers working overtime to keep pace with the big companies, and doing very well at it.
The journey home was relatively uneventful, apart from a slight delay at the check-in desk in Frankfurt due to the staff being unable to find a record of our return tickets. An hour later it was all sorted, and after another hour queuing at security we were on our way home.
So that was Light & Building 2018. We’d spent two days in conversation with anyone who is anyone in the UK wholesale and distribution sector, seen more lighting and smart control manufacturers than you might think was possible and walked in excess of 20 miles over the two days.
Above all – and this is the reason why we attend these events – we’d made some vital contacts in the wholesale and distribution sector. Ultimately, that can only be beneficial for SELECT Members doing business with these wholesalers on a week-to-week basis. We’re already looking forward to Light + Building 2020!
Margaret looks forward to a bright future
The EDA’s CEO, Margaret Fitzsimons, said “The overwhelming response from our Light + Building delegates has been extremely positive; they want to return to Light + Building in 2020, but with a larger group and for longer. The majority of our delegates attending this year were doing so for the first time, and whilst two days provided a good introduction it wasn’t enough to do justice to this global event. Senior representatives from the electrical contracting sector attending alongside wholesalers certainly helped to stimulate discussions and we hope to replicate this mix in our next visit to Light + Building.”