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IET on show at UK manufacturing expo

A two-day exhibition and conference taking place at Liverpool’s Exhibition Centre in November provided the perfect opportunity for the IET to present its offering to members, industry practitioners and manufacturing businesses.

UK manufacturing expo keynote

‘IET Manufacturing Policy Panel member John Patsavellas provides the keynote speech at The Manufacturer 2018 Top 100 ceremony’

UK manufacturing expo Organised by The Manufacturer, Digital Manufacturing Week is now firmly established as one of the most important events within the UK manufacturing calendar, and incorporates a series of events including the Smart Factory Expo and Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit. Over 5,300 delegates attended the 2018 event.

The IET, located in the heart of the Smart Factory Expo alongside Siemens, RS Components and Dell Technologies, took the opportunity to showcase a new publication Move Forwards in Your Manufacturing Career with help from the IET.

Inspired by IET engineers and technicians working in UK manufacturing businesses, the booklet sets out what the IET does across the field of manufacturing and proved popular with visitors to the IET stand.

Made Smarter moves forward

Among the conference highlights was an update from Siemens UK CEO, Juergen Maier, in his capacity as Chairman of the Made Smarter Review, an industry-led consortium encouraging businesses and Government to work together to accelerate the adoption of digital technologies by UK manufacturing businesses.

Maier warmly welcomed Government backing for an ambitious pilot, due to start in early 2019. This will support manufacturing businesses based in the North West. Firms looking to explore and evaluate the benefits of incorporating digital technologies within their factories would enjoy access to advice and match-funding.

He hoped the pilot would engage with up to 3,000 SMEs in the region, providing some 480 match-funded grants of up to £20,000 each towards the purchase costs of capital equipment and hiring expert help.

Developments in digital transformation

Digital is still the number one topic within manufacturing circles with much of the push and positive promotion coming from the tech sector, innovation community and industry commentators. But what do manufacturers think?

We took the opportunity to pop the question “Is manufacturing ready to fully embrace digital?” to experts at the show.

In addition to the exhibition and conference, Digital Manufacturing Week also provided the backdrop to two prestigious award ceremonies.

The Manufacturer Top 100 Awards is an essential, annual roll-call of talented men and women working in UK manufacturing. Recognised as outstanding role models, these individuals have consistently demonstrated their capabilities as inspiring leaders, bold investors in new markets, drivers of cultural change, unsung heroes or young pioneers.

This year’s Top 100 included the name of Dr Graham Herries, Director of Digital Technologies at Laing O’Rourke and Co-Chair of the IET’s Education and Skills Policy Panel. Working across multiple sectors, Graham is a leading industry practitioner and thought leader on Industry 4.0 digital manufacturing technologies, offsite construction and factories of the future.

Improving productivity

Industry 4.0 and digitalisation could present new opportunities to boost UK productivity, according to some of the people the IET spoke to at the Expo, as highlighted in this video from the event.

The Manufacturer MX Awards 2018 delivered an impressive shortlist of manufacturing businesses competing across 14 categories. The judging process for these IMechE-sponsored awards is rigorous. Candidate businesses get a site visit from a team of up to three judges, led by experts from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, who thoroughly examine each entry before delivering their scores.

It turned out to be a great night for Accolade Wines - the number one wine company in Australia and the UK by volume, and the fifth largest wine company in the world. The company operates a multi-award winning bottling facility and state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in Bristol, which employs over 500 people and produces 25 million cases of wine each year.

On the night, Accolade Wines scooped the awards for Achieving Customer Value, Sustainable Manufacturing and the top prize of The Manufacturer of the Year 2018.

Sustainability on the rise

As well as being one of the TMMX Award categories, Sustainable Manufacturing has become an increasingly important area of focus for the industry in recent times. To demonstrate this, we interviewed a number of attendees about the subject of sustainability to find out why it’s starting to be taken more seriously across the sector.

“Digital Manufacturing Week was a fantastic way to meet a lot of people in a relatively short space of time. There was a buzz, excitement and optimism about UK manufacturing, moving forward,” said Alan Howard, IET Design & Manufacturing Lead. “We came away from Liverpool having made many new contacts and renewing several existing acquaintances which we will be acting on.”