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issue: April 2005 APPLIANCE Magazine

European Report
Report on IMM/Cuisinale

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by Paul Roggema, European correspondent, APPLIANCE magazine

What can be more traditional than a trade fair? We in the industry have attended these numerous times. And even with the high hotel prices, grueling long days, and too much talking, nothing can match the feeling of being a part of that much industry action.

In Europe, the white goods fair landscape has changed. One used to travel to Cologne, Germany for Domotechnica and to Paris, France for Confortec. But for the last few years, the largest companies (Electrolux, Whirlpool, and BSH) have stayed away because of high costs and the time trade shows take away from normal business operations.

The new trend has been to be at events where the general public will attend such as kitchen, cooking, and furniture shows. Of course, smaller companies and suppliers are less happy with the new trend, but it seems to clearly be the formula large appliance makers prefer.

The perfect example of this was the recent IMM/Cuisinale, the international furniture and kitchen show held in Cologne on February 17-23. Appliance makers joined kitchen manufacturers in a special hall. The focus was on built-in kitchens and appliances, and among those present were BSH, Electrolux, and Miele. Smaller stands were manned by companies such as Gorenje and even Maytag. Whirlpool did not attend, but decided to focus on another German kitchen-only trade fair.

At IMM/Cuisinale, the most visible trend was stainless steel. One could fear for the label white goods, as there were almost no white appliances. Another trend was the professional kitchen, complete with the latest—and most innovative—appliances.
Bosch presented a hood with a built-in LCD screen and DVD player, so users can watch the latest TV shows while cooking. Another cooking trend seems to be downsizing: pack all oven features into a 45-cm unit (as opposed to the standard 60 cm) that can be used in smaller kitchens, as a second oven in larger kitchens, or even as an upgrade for the single-function microwave.

Another one of the industry’s latest hit products is the steam oven. Although available on the market for several years, sales have gone up in recent years due to renewed appreciation for healthy foods such as fish and vegetables, where this type of oven shines. Miele offers a separate steam boiler for accurate temperature control, and a menu-driven control panel that allows up to 141 programs. The high-end Miele brand Imperial offers the top product here: a pressurized steam oven with a heavy steel door resembling a pressure cooker. Electrolux showed a modernized version from the German brand Juno, where steam is combined with normal heating options.

In dishwashing, Miele again shined with its redesigned dishwasher line, with touch controls and a new in-door salt dispenser for easy refill. Bosch offered a pop-out detergent dispenser that allows users to refill the unit without opening the door. AEG offered a unique, extra wide 90-cm dishwasher, based on an Italian platform. And, again, stainless steel was seen here, but this time on the racks. Several manufacturers also showed dishwashers with redesigned racks that accommodate tall wine glasses.

In refrigeration, German manufacturer Liebherr showcased units using variable-speed compressors, well known in air-conditioning as inverter systems, resulting in high energy efficiency (A++ class). Another new feature is the option of an extra low freezing temperature of -28ºC (-20ºC is average). The company has also designed intelligence into some of its models.

Through a home automation link, a separate freezer in another room can be monitored by the refrigerator in the kitchen. It also designed a new menu interface that uses only five buttons and was clearly inspired by the cell phone.

Bosch’s TouchLight product was the star of its refrigeration display. Users simply touch the handle of the wine cooler and the interior light comes on, allowing you to look inside without opening the door. The wine cooler also has two temperature zones.

It also seems the home automation buzz is still alive and well. Both Miele and Siemens presented products at IMM/Cuisinale. The word is that even the simple versions (the washer in the basement sends messages to the display unit in the kitchen) are appreciated in the market; customers grasp the concept and are willing to invest. Manufacturers are hopeful for the next stage, where users can receive messages and issue commands through cordless and cell phones.


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