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UK Innovation to drive future engineering into 2020 and beyond

Advanced Engineering 2019 welcomed more than 550 exhibitors and 15,000+ attendees, a five per cent rise from the previous year, to the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. The largest annual gathering of manufacturing and supply chain professionals showcased more cutting edge technologies and product innovations than ever before with the introduction of its Medical Device Engineering Zone.

Taking place on 30th and 31st October 2019, the event gave professionals spanning the engineering supply chain the opportunity to both exhibit and visit a multitude of technologies and innovations. Despite the run up to the event being surrounded by political uncertainty, the show demonstrated the success of the industry and its ability to overcome challenges.

Showcasing innovation

With a focus on the positive future of the engineering sector, Advanced Engineering 2019 played host to a wealth of innovation. In addition to its dedicated Enabling Innovation Zone, which saw ten start-up businesses showcase technologies such as a novel carbon fibre process and three-dimensional holographic imaging solutions, the show also supported those who are nurturing future talent in the industry.

One of the show’s feature exhibits was the Institute of Mechanical Engineers’ (IMechE) Formula Student Team and its FSAI autonomous racing car. More than just a showstopping feature, the car is a mule vehicle that different universities can use so students can develop their own software that can be tested on the track. The team attended Advanced Engineering to demonstrate how it is supporting students to gain the engineering expertise that’s vital in industry today.

Overcoming uncertainty

While uncertainty in the UK could cause changes to a number of regulations, B2B Compliance was there to reassure visitors that help is on hand. John Gammage, account manager at the company, reaffirmed this as he revealed why the trade body chose to exhibit at Advanced Engineering 2019. “We identified Advanced Engineering early on as a fantastic opportunity to meet and explore the wide range of industries that are exhibiting here,” he said.

“It’s an opportunity to reach out and try to understand how we can support manufacturers’ needs and where they see the challenges are in the year ahead, with Brexit being one of those. The industry’s needs are driving towards the circular economy, so we are trying to enable our members to think about redesign and sustainability.”

The show was also home to a host of notable speakers, who gave valuable insight into a variety of industry topics. These included a keynote speech from Alan Banks, light weighting innovation manager at Ford Motor Company, who shed light on how the company overcame challenges when developing a lightweight suspension system, and Ian Gardner, Industry 4.0 and Oracle specialist at IBM, whose discussion on Industry 4.0 inspired attendees to take the leap in their own manufacturing facilities.

Also joining the show was Fiona Hitchiner, senior policy advisor for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Hitchiner was onsite to provide a series of Brexit readiness briefings to prepare businesses for the future.

Mike Duffield, regional sales manager at Renishaw, found the new Medical Device Engineering Zone to be particularly relevant, he said: “Renishaw has exhibited at Advanced Engineering for a number of years because it has always been a great opportunity to network and get high quality business leads. The addition of the medical device engineering zone has helped us to forge new business relationships and showcase the range of potential applications that our products can help to innovate.”

Speaking on the success, head of community and content for the show, Jeremy Whittingham, explains how, despite uncertainty, the engineering sector is thriving. “Ahead of this year’s show, the media was dominated by British politics and the nation’s place in the wider world. This uncertainty isn’t going away any time soon, but that doesn’t mean it needs to hinder progression.

“At Advanced Engineering 2019, we launched our Voice of Industry report to demonstrate the successes of the industry in spite of uncertainty. At the show, our own work – alongside the wealth of innovation and success that it hosted – proved that manufacturing and engineering in the UK is thriving more than ever before.”

Roxanne Bennett, account manager at Make UK, said: “As we’re the voice of manufacturing, Advanced Engineering is the perfect fit for us. Even though we weren’t exhibiting a product or technology, we support those that do”.

Bennett explains that: “one of the questions we get the most is how we can support manufacturers, particularly in light of Brexit, and this show gives us the stage to answer this for a wealth of companies from across the engineering industry. Exhibiting has given us a platform to showcase how membership to Make UK can help them get the support they need when facing the challenges ahead.”

Bringing together thousands of attendees from OEMs, tier 1 manufacturers, and supply chain partners, Advanced Engineering is the UK’s largest annual advanced engineering and manufacturing event.

With a two-day attendance of some 15,000 engineering professionals, the show promotes supply chain business and technology transfer across aerospace, automotive, medical technology, energy, and indeed any sector that involves high-value manufacturing, R & D and innovation.