Southern Manufacturing: the evolution continues

Intro (3)
Intro (3)

New dates in early Spring and significant infrastructure investment mark the beginning of a new phase of development for Southern Manufacturing, the UK’s longest running annual industrial technology show.

Southern Manufacturing and Electronics 2017 returns to FIVE, Farnborough, from 21-23 March. The move to new dates brings with it an extra hour’s daylight and hopefully more benign weather conditions. Development work on the site has been ongoing over the last year to improve access and facilities, which taken together should mean good news for visitors planning to attend the show in 2017. 8,600 passed through the doors in 2016, and the organisers are confident that figure will be significantly exceeded this year.

The other major development in 2016 was, of course, the referendum decision. Not surprisingly, much uncertainty surrounds the consequences of Brexit for manufacturing and engineering. However, although such concerns are very real, the short-term response, amongst the engineering community at least, seems to have been ‘carry on regardless’. The falling Pound has given an extra boost to the re-shoring of contracts, a process that was already well underway before the vote, and the export aspirations of many small to medium enterprises have been considerably emboldened.

Certainly, there have been some tangible effects in the context of Southern 2017, as show director Phil Valentine illustrates: “We have witnessed an unsurpassed surge from across the industrial supply spectrum in stand bookings over the last quarter and particularly going into the new year. I think UK suppliers are realising you can either wonder what will happen, wait for things to happen or make them happen. Many realise the way to move forward the quickest is to get out there and proactively promote themselves.”

With the 18,000m² venue now almost completely sold out, this wave of optimism is not only shared, but apparently justified, as Mr Valentine relates: “One of our major machinery exhibitors told us that last October’s Northern Manufacturing show was the most successful they had ever had in the UK in terms of machine sales.”

Top draw

The live machinery demonstrations are one of the biggest draw factors for Southern Manufacturing, and 2017 will be no different. Most of Southern’s big name machinery brands return for 2017, and several of those have dramatically increased their presence this year.

Matsuura, for one, announced recently that it is doubling its stand size at Southern 2017. The Matsuura MX-330 PC10 5 is the latest in the MX Series of high quality 5-axis machines and will make its UK exhibition debut at the show. Also cutting metal will be the Muratec Murata MT100iT2 automated bar fed lathe with twin turrets and intelligent servo unloader, enabling it to accommodate bar up to 51mm diameter and 180mm length.

Bystronic will showcase its Xpert 40 press brake equipped with a new mobile automation module – a compact solution, says the firm, for automated and manual bending. The technology behind the mobile bending cell is the Xpert 40, together with bending robotics, combining fast press brake and mobile automation. Users can set-up the robotics system on the Xpert 40 in just a few minutes, says the company. When not in use, the bending robotics can simply be moved to one side.

Continuing the compact production theme, Hurco Europe demonstrates its VM10i vertical machining centre and a TM6i CNC lathe. Within a footprint of just 1.8 by 1.8m, the VM10i offers a working volume of 660 x 406 x 508mm. A 20-station swing-arm toolchanger and 24m/minute rapids help to minimise non-cutting time, while a 762 x 406mm table with a maximum weight capacity of 340kg and a 11kW, 10,000rpm spindle complete the package.

Unison returns for 2017 with its extensive range of all-electric tube bending machines, together with sister company, Ingenium Integration, a provider of automation solutions. Unison’s standard range accommodates tube diameters from 16mm to 180mm; a recently developed custom machine is capable of bending 10 inch schedule pipe with an OD of 273mm.

Emco UK highlights its extensive portfolio of manual and CNC mills and lathes, routers, Stratasys 3D printers, 3D scanners and laser cutting/marking machines. At Southern, the company will be showing the Emcoturn E25 high precision lathe with C-axis, running Fanuc controls and the Maxxmill 350, a compact 5-axis milling centre running Siemens Operate, with tool management and graphics for ease of use.

Diverse appeal

Southern Manufacturing main appeal is the sheer diversity of the suppliers taking part. Consequently, there’s a lot more to see in terms of production hardware than just machining centres. Nabertherm, for example, will promote its range of furnaces and heat treatment systems, encompassing everything from compact hardening furnaces to fully automatic plants with conveying technology and process documentation.

Filtermist International will highlight products for the removal of oil mist, dust, smoke and fumes. Its recent acquisition of Multi Fan Systems means the company can also offer VOC abatement, evaporative cooling, ventilation and cooling, production waste extraction, vacuum cleaning and conveying services. Another popular exhibitor returning for 2017 is Mecwash with its aqueous cleaning machines.

There is, of course, also no shortage of tooling, workholding and other production essentials, from firms such as Bowers Group, Faro Roemheld, AMF Andreas Maier and many others.

Arno UK brings its range of part-off, turning and grooving tools to Farnborough. Highlighted will be its rapidly expanding range of sliding head lathe tooling, including its Deco cut range of ground-on edge inserts with deeper cutting potential.

1st Machine Tool Accessories (1st MTA) demonstrates several Kitagawa rotary table options, designed to increase production versatility and reduce the number of separate machining operations required to produce complex parts. Its latest TT150 tilting type compound table with 150mm faceplate adds fourth and fifth CNC axes. It is designed to be interfaced directly with a machining centre control or operated via a MAC mini controller.

Regional hotbed

Southern Manufacturing is also a vitally important marketplace for subcontracting; its location puts it in the centre of one of the UK’s most important areas for precision engineering. A quarter of the UK’s £20 billion aerospace industry is located in the region, together with the regional offices of no less than 10 top US aerospace firms.

BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin have their headquarters less than two minutes’ walk from the show in fact. Aside from aerospace, the South is a key area for medical technology and a large portion of the UK’s £3 billion leisure marine industry is located within 50 miles, not to mention the rich seam of high-tech firms stretching out along the M4.

Precision engineering, perhaps not surprisingly, figures strongly in the line-up of subcontractors. Among them are names such as Aegina Technologies, Entech (Poole), Axis Precision, PGT Ceewright and RMA Precision.

But this is merely a small subset of the services available, which range from fabrication, castings, pressings, sheet metal and laser cutting to highly specialised plastics machining, finishing and electroplating. As in all other aspects of the event, the selection is vast and comprehensive.

Visitors seeking specific expertise amongst those exhibiting can use one of a number of Technology Trails which link suppliers active in particular sectors, such as aerospace or medical technology. Because the show caters for electronics as well as mechanical engineering, these trails can help to quickly identify suppliers across a wide range of disciplines – one of the most popular features of the show.

Soak up the seminars

The show’s free seminar programme by itself is a compelling reason to visit the exhibition. The seminars tackle a wide variety of technical and commercial topics, and are designed to appeal to anyone involved in engineering or manufacturing, from business advice to reviews of the latest advances in manufacturing technology.

The programme for 2017 offers its customary high standard of presenters drawn from industry, academia and commerce. A total of 28 sessions over three days will include an overview of advanced manufacturing and 3D Printing, enclosure design, Industry 4.0 and the regulatory significance of the Brexit vote. All of the sessions are free of charge, although pre-booking is definitely recommended. A complete listing of sessions and the online reservation form is available at

Admission to the show and the technical seminars is free of charge, and FIVE Farnborough provides copious free car parking. There's convenient access by road from the M3 or by public transport. A complimentary shuttle bus connects the show and both of Farnborough's railway stations.

Southern Manufacturing

Related Articles

On your marks

The motorsport industry has an enviable reputation for pushing the boundaries of engineering technology and the use of space age materials and production processes.
7 years ago Features

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.
7 years ago Features
Most recent Articles

Seco rebrand embraces change

Seco, one of the leading global providers of metal-cutting solutions, has launched a radically updated visual identity and logo as well as a long-term brand strategy.
2 days ago News

Login / Sign up