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15/07/2014 / Graham Lowe

The show must go on

I’m Graham Lowe, sales director at Hochiki Europe, and I’d like to welcome you to a series of blogs where I, along with guest bloggers, examine the issues affecting the life safety industry.

In this blog my colleague PAUL ADAMS, Hochiki Europe’s deputy marketing manager, reviews the recently held FIREX International 2014 event. His thoughts and opinions are intended to generate debate – so whether you agree or disagree, feel free to post your comments below.

FIREX International 2014 recently took place at London’s ExCeL, marking the first time this long established and well respected event has been hosted in the capital, after many successful years at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham. As the life safety industry’s ‘must attend’ trade exhibition, most exhibitors and attendees spent the weeks leading up to it predicting what the impact of this move would be. Would more or less people attend, would the demographic change and, ultimately, would it be better or worse than it has been in previous years?

We were optimistic about the new location and, as regular exhibitors, had already signed up to attend the next event. In addition, we made a significant investment in a state-of-the-art stand to make maximum use of the extra floor space that we would also occupy. Needless to say, we were hoping for the best.

Opinion about the success or otherwise of a trade event is usually diverse and highly subjective – it depends upon what the objectives were from attending and whether they were fulfilled. From the perspective of Hochiki Europe, although not perfect, FIREX International 2014 was a success and our post-event analysis was overwhelmingly positive.

The most noticeable difference was the number of overseas visitors it attracted. My guess is that having the event in London was the key reason for this, due to its excellent transport links to continental Europe and further afield. We found this particularly beneficial, as one of the hot topics on our stand was the introduction of our new fire detection range of products independently evaluated and certified to meet the strict requirements of Safety Integrity Level 2 (SIL2).

A SIL rating applies to an entire system and is used to reduce risk and improve safety through a formalised and quantifiable methodology. It is fast becoming a prerequisite in oil and gas markets all over the world, from Australia to the Middle East, North Africa and even offshore in the UK. It is also increasingly stipulated for projects within the rail transport sector and we were therefore delighted to have the opportunity to discuss this range with potential new customers from these regions and industry sectors.

At last year’s FIREX International, we were impressed with the interest our EN 54-23 compliant visual alarm devices (VADs) drew from fire industry professionals. This standard has been mandatory since the beginning of 2014, so we expected even greater attention to be paid to them at this year’s event – and we weren’t disappointed. Of particular note was the level of awareness of their potential for improving life safety in factories and other environments with high ambient noise levels. Our VADs have been tested and assessed by an EU notified body to determine coverage volume, based on the distance at which the required illumination is met and we were complemented on the design of the loop powered beacons and loop powered wall sounder beacons in the range.  A selection of our new VADs go on sale at the beginning of August 2014.  Other variants will be released throughout the following months.

Although we didn’t identify any discernable purchasing trends, the general vibe was noticeably more upbeat than in previous years – thanks in no small part to the improving economic conditions. That’s not to say that we are there yet as far as pre-2008 trading conditions are concerned, but I think ‘cautiously optimistic’ sums up the mood. Similarly, in terms of the leads that were generated, the feedback from our sales team is that they are of excellent quality.

I’m sure there will be some detractors, however, I, along with most other exhibitors and visitors that I spoke to, felt that having FIREX International 2014 at ExCeL was a great base on which to build.  There was no denying the fact that quite a few of our existing customers from the North of England were conspicuous by their absence, due presumably to the extra distance to the venue.  But having spoken recently to UBM, the event organisers, there are plans to improve the experience for those visitors travelling long distances to attend the event which they are currently formulating.

In terms of room for improvement, I would like to see more interaction with the other events being held at the same time, so that visitors to Firex International get to experience more from IFSEC International, Energy & Environment Expo, Facilities Show, Safety & Health Expo, and vice-versa. However, I’m sure this will come and at Hochiki Europe we are already looking forward to next year’s event.  Hope to see you all there.


One Comment

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  1. Candost Yalcinkaya / Jul 30 2014 4:15 pm

    I personally had a great time at this years FIREX exhibition. Hochiki’s stand was particularly impressive, and the Global Beer Bar was a really nice touch!

    Very much looking forward to attending next years FIREX, and I hope it maintains its international attraction.

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