A festival of innovation

A festival of innovation
A festival of innovation

Advanced Engineering UK has established itself as one of the biggest events on the manufacturing industry calendar. Ed Hill finds out why it has become such a success.

It's not always the case that a trade fair can be truly described as a celebration of the industry it represents but Advanced Engineering UK, held at the NEC Birmingham on November 4-5 this year has a tradition of showcasing many of the most innovative technological products and processes found in engineering today. More than 700 companies and organisation are expected to pack out Hall 5 of the NEC with more than 13,000 visitors anticipated to attend.

Former managing director and founder of the event Ian Stone says: “It has shown itself to be one of the most exciting annual industry events to work with not just because of the huge diversity of companies exhibiting but also because of the synergy between them. The show reflects the future position of the UK's industrial ambitions. For the UK to have an even stronger industrial base it has to be built on core industries using the most advanced processes, materials, technologies and best practices. The Advanced Engineering Show captures these future pillars of growth into one unified commercial and technology transfer environment.”

Individual zones

Advanced Engineering UK encompasses four distinct show streams reflecting specialist areas of engineering and manufacturing capability: the Aero Engineering Show, Composites Engineering Show, Automotive Engineering Show, and Performance Metals Engineering.

The Aero Engineering Show focuses on companies and organisations involved in the design and manufacture of aero-structures, wings, engines and system engineering.

“The UK aerospace industry is often seen as the jewel in the crown of our engineering sector,” Mr Stone says. “This show gives it the opportunity to address the core technologies and processes and the supply chain efficiencies which keep it at the forefront of aero technology.

“The show is supported by the principal industry organisations including ADS Group, Royal Aeronautical Society, North West Aerospace Alliance and WEAF amongst others and continues to be a crucial component of the show. It provides the opportunity for stakeholders at all levels to network, showcase the very latest sector specific engineering materials, processes, technologies and supply chain partner capabilities and explore new business opportunities as well as the chance to take away vital industry intelligence.”

Now in its sixth year The Composites Engineering Show highlights the latest in composite design, technology and manufacturing.

“It is still the UK's only dedicated show specifically for the composite industry featuring materials, processing equipment, tooling technologies, related design and simulation technologies and a plethora of specialist composite fabrication, processing service companies,” Mr Stone affirms. “It's supported by leading industry associations and institutions such as Composites UK, Netcomposites and the NCC. The show is the place to come if you want to get an idea of who is in the market and what composites can do for your business. It has an incredibly impressive array of presentations and a hugely diverse cross section of exhibits that demonstrate composites in action across a multitude of applications and sectors.”
The Automotive Engineering zone provides a showcase of specialist UK and international engineering services involved in the industry's supply chain.

“Automotive Engineering brings together all the elements that go into making a vehicle under one roof and it also has fantastic synergy with the other show zones,” Mr Stone explains.

“It's an exciting time for the automotive industry in terms of mechanical technologies, the adoption of new materials and development of the low carbon powertrain innovations such as electric vehicles, energy recovery technologies, fuel cells, and vehicle safety. The car is also increasingly becoming a driven computer and many of the presentations this year will look at the electronic developments that are happening to vehicles.”

The Performance Metals Engineering Show is a response to increasing demands from designers and manufacturers for higher performance metal materials in terms of strength, functionality, lightweighting, corrosion resistance, temperature capability and sustainability.

“It provides a dedicated programme of sessions and presentations specifically focused on performance metals materials, applications and processing innovations, supported by a visitor trail throughout the overall group of events' show floor.”

Innovation opportunities

There are a number of new developments for this year's show. Perhaps the biggest is the introduction of an ‘Enabling Innovation' programme supported by automotive component giant Magna International and the Knowledge Transfer Network.

Enabling Innovation will feature four key elements: a poster and presentations zone which gives innovators a chance to showcase breakthrough concepts, products and processes; one to one business meetings hosted by Magna, which will give innovators the chance to discuss new concepts and products and look for investment or collaborative programmes and licensing agreements with Magna's R&D decision makers.

There will also be dedicated open conference sessions hosted by the Knowledge Transfer Network exploring the themes of new enabling technologies, materials and processes and a two day schedule of business presentations designed to help start-up enterprises covering key areas such as finance, tax incentives, collaborative R&D opportunities and protecting Intellectual Property.

Two important industry bodies have also decided to co-locate annual events with the Advanced Engineering Show this year. The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) will be holding its ‘Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) Technology Symposium' at this year's show. The symposium looks at how some of the latest digital and virtual technologies can be implemented into manufacturing. The event has high quality delegate speakers from the likes of Boeing, Ford and Jaguar Land Rover.

Additionally the Aluminium industry body ALFED has taken the decision to co-locate its annual conference in the Toute Suite adjoining Hall 5 at the NEC. Key developments including the increasing use of lightweight aluminium in road vehicles, construction, aerospace and packaging will be covered.

Some notable new attendees to this year's Advanced Engineering Show include the European Space Agency, (ESA), The Rail Alliance, Niche Vehicle Network and Canon UK amongst others.

Discussion and debate

One of the distinguishing elements of Advanced Engineering UK is its Open Conference Programme. At presentation areas around the show hall attendees can hear some of the latest technology developments from top industry experts. This year more than 180 presentations are expected to take place from key industry speakers.

“The Open Conference Programme has proved popular because speakers get access to enthusiastic industry audiences that go beyond their particular field of specialism and for attendees they get the chance to get expert levels of technology and industry insight that normally would only be afforded to a paying delegate,” Mr Stone explains. “They can pick and choose content to attend while they are spending their day at the show. It is a stakeholder led conference of willing and well placed industrial partners who want to contribute session content in their field of expertise.”

Presentation material is also available to registered attendees who miss the sessions after the show through a follow up personal log-in facility.

Amongst the exhibitor stands special feature areas showcase some of the latest high-tech products developed in aerospace, automotive and composite engineering.

Notable show displays this year will include record setting speed bicycles, an electric powered drag bike, world beating catamaran and sailrocket exhibits, driverless vehicle technologies, hybrid air vehicle innovation, automotive materials engineering exhibits, low carbon and vehicle powertrain exhibits, UK performance sports cars, bespoke design vehicles and breakthrough disruptive technology demonstrators.

There will also be a focus on young engineers and apprentices with a stand from Safran (Messier-Bugatti-Dowty) whose apprentices who will be doing a live landing gear demonstration and a feature on recreating the DeLorean car from Back to the Future from KMF Precision Sheet Metal.

“Engineers love this aspect of the show because it offers a visual interactive snapshot of where the advanced engineering is currently and where it is aspiring to be in the future. This will be our most exciting special feature exhibition programme yet and we expect it will make a connection with everyone who will be attending.”

Bright prospects

The longer term future of the show itself looks positive with the announcement in July this year that UK Tech Events, which organisers the show, has been acquired global industry show organiser Artexis Easyfairs.

Matt Benyon, managing director, Easyfairs UK & Global comments: “With such a vital event sitting at the heart of UK engineering, our key aim is to support the growth of the show and develop a showcase for UK engineering to reach both national and international audiences.

At Artexis Easyfairs we believe in face to face business and only want to use our expertise to enhance the exhibition experience for the exhibiting companies and the engineers that attend the show. We feel privileged to be serving the UK engineering community and look forward to building longstanding relationships with everyone involved.”

Mr Stone concludes: “Artexis Easyfairs has superb access to global markets around the world. The Group has the perfect blend of big company resources and financial backing combined with small company-style hunger to take the Advanced Engineering UK event to the next level.”


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