The convention

The convention
Boasting 300 exhibitors and 9,000 visitors over three days in May, ARBS 2024 will be the gathering place for the Australian HVAC&R community.

Points of intersection are pivotal for industries, such as HVAC&R, that are fragmented. Yes, we admit it: ours is an industry that is sometimes its own worst enemy when it comes to acting collectively.

And that is why an event such as ARBS (the Australian Refrigeration and Building Services exhibition) is so important. It enables the various facets of the industry – manufacturers, importers, installers, contractors, designers, consultants, sole operators, family businesses and others – to come together in the one spot at the same time. To discuss, gossip, compare notes and prices, mull over issues, and on some occasions, actually agree with one another and solve problems.

What started life simply as a trade event (albeit on steroids) as the AIRAH Exhibition in the late 1990s has become so much more.

Exhibitors get to display their wares and talk about them with end users, who are able to be hands-on with the kit. Designers can rub shoulders with manufacturers. And everyone can let their hair down and celebrate the achievements of recent times, which, let’s face it, since COVID first impacted, have for many been challenging.

“This year, we are set to unveil an exceptional array of advancements and insights that will set the direction for our industry’s future,” says ARBS chair, Professor Tony Arnel of ARBS 2024. “Our focus is not just on showcasing the latest products but also on delivering an enriching experience that equips you for the changes ahead. Innovation, sustainability, and connection are the cornerstones of ARBS.

“I look forward to welcoming you to an event that will enhance your professional journey and position you at the cutting edge of industry developments.”

The exhibitors

Ecolibrium broke bread with several ARBS exhibitors about their expectations for the 2024 iteration.

Fantech – Wayne Norton, marketing executive

How are you finding the business environment at the moment?

The HVAC industry has grown substantially in recent years. However, 2024 has faced some challenges due to inflation and higher interest rates. Despite the economic challenges, there is still strength and resilience in the commercial unitary market, with pent-up demand and strong growth prospects. There continues to be a demand for innovative HVAC technologies and IAQ that can be more environmentally friendly, energy-efficient, and potentially reduce utility costs.

What will you be doing at ARBS this year?

We will be showcasing our latest products, smart technologies, and services tailored to the air conditioning, refrigeration, and building services industries. Our focus will be on indoor air quality, demonstrating our heat-recovery ventilation systems for both residential and commercial sectors. You will see our recent advancements in EC technology, designed to optimise the indoor environment while reducing power consumption. These include variations of EC axial pitch inline fans and our latest capabilities for efficient cooling of data centres. Other ranges on display include destratification fans, centrifugal fans, integrated carpark ventilation, and fans for corrosive applications.

What are you most looking forward to?

We are looking forward to exhibiting at the ARBS event in Sydney once again. This is a great opportunity for us to connect with both our existing and new customers and discuss any changes that may have led to innovative advancements within our industry. We are excited to showcase our own range of industry-leading innovative products and demonstrate how they can benefit the customer.

Quality Air Equipment ¬– CEO Stephen Podetti, Affil.AIRAH

How are you finding the business environment at the moment?

You need to be able to innovate and adapt to market conditions to stay ahead of market trends, anticipating challenges and seize opportunities when they present themselves.

What will you be doing at ARBS this year?

We will be sharing a stand with our great partner Ductus. Additionally, there will be a walk-through and a light breakfast at the QAE factory at 8am on May 29.

What are you most looking forward to?

The ARBS show is a great platform to connect and network with professionals in the HVAC&R industry. It is great to see the latest technologies and innovative solutions showcased by exhibitors.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Air-Conditioners Australia – Jenny Perello and Rebecca Viletta from the MHIAA marketing team

How are you finding the business environment at the moment?

The HVAC market, like many industries, is facing many challenges with the current economic climate in Australia; however, we continue to rise to meet these challenges. Over the past few years, we have seen a significant shift in what are the major concerns from our industry from economic to technology, including indoor air quality, and as a business we are rising to the challenges of these changes in the market.

What will you be doing at ARBS this year?

We will once again be exhibiting at ARBS in Sydney. We are excited to be bringing our award-winning range of air conditioners to ARBS this year, and will be showcasing several new products for both residential and commercial applications. Across the three days we will have a number of exciting events and activities on our stand for all attendees.

What are you most looking forward to?

For ARBS 2024 we are most looking forward to meeting all the attendees and showcasing our range on the day. ARBS is a fantastic opportunity for all businesses to meet, engage and network within our industry, and we look forward to another successful ARBS in May 2024.

Camfil – Managing director, Jonathan Bunge

How are you finding the business environment at the moment?

There is an increasing desire for eco-friendly solutions, which exist, but it’s tough to find succinct, simple win-wins. A continued focus on feasible sustainability in the market from customers, suppliers and designers can only help improve this over time.

What will you be doing at ARBS this year?

Camfil will have a strong presence at the ARBS exhibition to showcase our top-tier products: the next generation Hi-Flo bag filter, Opakfil compact filter, and CamCarb XG molecular filter. This year’s key theme is sustainability, focusing on life-cycle cost analysis. We will demonstrate how our energy-efficient filters can offer substantial savings for energy, filter replacement, and waste.

What are you most looking forward to?

I look forward to the opportunity to showcase our latest products and technologies at ARBS 2024. It’s an exciting chance to connect with industry professionals, and demonstrate the value and innovation we bring to the market.

AHI Carrier – Indraneel (Neel) Mitra

How are you finding the business environment at the moment?

The Australian economic landscape presents a complex picture for the HVAC industry in 2024, with a predicted CAGR of around 5 per cent over the next three to five years driven by climatic change, increased population, and urbanisation.

Concurrently, the Australian economy is anticipated to experience modest growth, resulting from a planned shift in focus from lowering inflation to stimulating economic growth. We anticipate growth in the HVAC market being further supported by government regulations aimed at increasing decarbonisation and reducing energy consumption in buildings, thereby promoting the demand for high-efficiency air conditioning.

What will you be doing at ARBS this year?

It is always exciting to showcase our strengths at an elite gathering such as ARBS, and AHIC Australia will present a range of its industry leading Carrier and Toshiba residential and light commercial solutions. As a special attraction we will showcasing the designer elements of Toshiba’s award- winning Haori hi-wall split system that not only merges seamlessly with home décor, but in fact complements interior design.

What are you most looking forward to?

Demonstrating how our residential and light commercial HVAC solutions reflect our vision of sustainability without having to compromise on comfort. Our comprehensive product range, from VRF to ductless products, ensures high efficiency and premium comfort in homes, offices, apartments, and retail spaces and so on. Our goal is to extend market reach and expand our network to help more end users achieve optimal comfort and efficiency.

Seminar sessions

“ARBS 2024 is shaping up to be an unmissable event for professionals in the HVAC&R and building services industries,” says ARBS CEO Amanda Searle, “with an incredible speaker line-up presenting on the pressing topics of today.”

A snapshot of the ARBS 24 speaker line-up:

  • Covering energy efficiency is Dam Bertino from the National Carbon Bank of Australia who will discuss the crucial incentives for HVAC upgrades. It’s a session for anyone looking to navigate the green transition in business.
  • Alison Stockland from ASBEC and Caroline Fitzgerald from Woolworths Group will bring to light the importance of diversity in our industry, exploring strategies to build a more inclusive and thriving future.
  • On the technical front, Dr Les Trudzik will delve into the challenges and opportunities in VET sector training against the backdrop of evolving technology, while Graeme Dewerson will present the latest findings from Cold Hard Facts 4, providing an essential update on refrigeration technology and trends.
  • In our industry that’s increasingly focused on sustainability, Jan Dusek will outline global policy and market trends for natural refrigerant applications, offering a glimpse into the future of refrigeration and heat pumps.
  • For those interested in the nitty-gritty of building design and construction, Jeff Robinson, Affil.AIRAH, will share insights on using the Passive House methodology to achieve outstanding Green Star Building Ratings.
  • With an eye on the future, Subbu Sethuvenkatraman from CSIRO and TK Wang will discuss the building blocks necessary for scalable smart building applications, a topic that’s becoming increasingly relevant as our buildings become more technologically integrated.

Go to to see the full line-up and to book tickets.

Q&A with new ARBS CEO Amanda Searle

Ecolibrium sat down with the new ARBS boss to chat about her background and why she loves managing events.

Ecolibrium: Congrats on the new role. Could you tell us a bit about your background, and how this has prepared you for running ARBS?

Amanda Searle: I’ve dedicated my entire career to marketing, communications, and events, which I absolutely love. There’s something truly rewarding about managing events – they’re such joyful occasions that often become the standout moments in people’s lives, leaving a lasting impression. Before I joined ARBS, I held a pivotal role at the Airconditioning and Mechanical Contractors’ Association of Australia (AMCA Australia), managing national events and partnerships. This experience gave me deep insight into the industry’s intricacies and an understanding of the market environment.

I’m passionate about this ever-evolving, innovative, and technologically advanced industry. With HVAC&R systems being a significant factor in a building’s energy use, our industry plays a crucial role in driving energy efficiency and making a substantial environmental impact. Before AMCA Australia, I spent a considerable time at Holmesglen TAFE as marketing manager, and later, tackling special projects as a contractor. That role provided me with an in-depth understanding of vocational education, the challenges around skill shortages, and the ever-changing landscape of skill training. It also emphasised the need for training providers and industry collaboration to ensure skills training keeps pace with industry demands.

Eco: What are you enjoying about the role so far?
AS: ARBS is an incredibly successful event. From humble beginnings, it has grown to be the largest event in the HVAC&R and building services industries in Australia, drawing in over 300 exhibitors and 9,000 visitors.

It’s fantastic to see the innovation and the exciting new products and technology our exhibitors bring. They invest heavily in their stand design and construction, which are impressive, engaging, informative, and innovative. We’ve seen exhibitors ship massive pieces of equipment from overseas just so visitors can experience the latest products and designs firsthand.

I’m also really enjoying working with the ARBS team and board. They’re a group of seriously impressive, knowledgeable, and professional individuals who are also genuinely lovely people. They’ve gone out of their way to make me feel welcome and have been very supportive as I get up to speed on all things ARBS. It’s a privilege to be part of such a committed team, all dedicated to making ARBS the best event possible.

Eco: What are you finding challenging?
AS: There’s an abundance of new initiatives and opportunities I’m eager to bring to the industry to foster collaboration, knowledge sharing, and showcasing of innovations. However, right now, my absolute focus and priority is ARBS 2024. With May not too far away, there’s a lot to accomplish to ensure the event is a success and potentially our best yet! I’m learning to be patient, accepting that I can’t tackle everything at once, and that some plans will need to wait until after the doors close on ARBS 2024.

Eco: Are you on a learning curve?
AS: Absolutely! Although my past experiences and industry knowledge are great assets, ARBS is indeed a complex event with lots of moving parts. Plus, with new software platforms and technology, there’s a lot to learn, which is very exciting. I’m thoroughly enjoying absorbing it all.

Eco: What will be different at ARBS this year?
AS: This year at ARBS, we’re thrilled to roll out some innovative initiatives designed to engage, educate, and inspire our attendees. Firstly, we have the “Try-a-Trade” careers initiative. Alongside the WorldSkills Competition, we’re setting up engaging, hands-on activities for secondary and tertiary students to experience trade work first-hand. Plus, there will be career info sessions where students can learn about the diverse opportunities in our industry and connect with exhibitors to discuss potential career paths.

Also debuting is the “Insight Tour and Leadership Forum”, aimed at both current and emerging industry leaders. This will feature tours of the ICC’s plant rooms and another iconic Sydney building, followed by a panel discussion with leaders from ARBS Member Associations. They’ll share insights on leadership, the future workforce, skill shortages, and tackle current industry challenges like AI, electrification, and net zero emissions. It’s an opportunity for meaningful engagement and to map out leadership journeys.

Eco: What are you most looking forward to about ARBS?
AS: I’m eagerly anticipating the chance to experience the absolute latest and most cutting-edge innovations and products in our industry at ARBS. Meeting new exhibitors, as well as reconnecting with those I already know, is something I’m particularly looking forward to. Welcoming our international exhibitors to Australia and ARBS will be a highlight, too. With exhibitors hailing from all corners of the globe – around 12 per cent of the floor space is dedicated to international exhibitors –it’s going to be fantastic to witness the global innovation they bring to the event.

Ecolibrium June-July 2023

This article appears in ecolibrium’s MaRCH-APRIL 2024 issue

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