Southern Manufacturing returns next month

From 6th to 8th February 2024, thousands of visitors will stream through the doors of the Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre, where once again Southern Manufacturing & Electronics will host hundreds of firms offering products and services to manufacturers from all over the UK, Ireland and beyond. It is one of the most important and comprehensive engineering trade fairs in the calendar and the forthcoming show will set the record for the largest ever number of overseas exhibitors.

Since it all started in 1997 as a small, regional event, this annual celebration of all things engineering – both mechanical and electronic has grown into an expo of international importance, attracting exhibitors from all over the world. An interesting facet of the way the show is laid out is that, although the various technologies and industries covered are diverse, there are no physical barriers between the areas. This allows cross-over between the different engineering disciplines. Visitors say this is one of the show’s main attractions, as it often leads to the discovery of companies that would not normally be found. Technology Trails grouping firms having expertise in particular areas help to guide visitors around the aisles.

The event attracts big-name manufacturers, but it is also very accessible to SMEs. The show organisers operate a policy of open access, discouraging larger firms from dominating the space. The mixture of firms of various sizes operating in different disciplines gives the show a vibrant atmosphere that encourages an exchange of ideas and forges long-term business relationships. 

For visitors, it is the ideal venue to address multiple purchasing requirements quickly. It is the place to see all the latest in machine tools, tooling and workholding, additive manufacturing options and related consumables, plus test, measurement and inspection equipment. There will be companies selling these solutions and others already operating them that will be offering an extensive range of subcontract manufacturing services.

Mechanical, electrical, electronic, electro-mechanical, hydraulic and pneumatic components, assemblies and technologies will be everywhere. A myriad of firms will offer plastic injection and rubber mouldings, sensors, drives, rotary encoders and linear scales, fasteners, pressings, wire forms, springs, gaskets, and more. Other items to be promoted will encompass business and manufacturing software, production and planning aids, oil and coolant supply, waste removal and recycling, and freight services. To maintain high standards of cleanliness and order in factories, other companies will have equipment for dust and fume extraction and humidity control, and there will be workplace storage systems, bespoke case and foam manufacture and plastic packaging to keep things tidy.

Automation will be prevalent, driven by a skills shortage across Britain and indeed the whole of Europe. Manufacturing is struggling to recover from problems caused by Covid, supply chain disruptions, soaring energy costs and higher taxation. Consequently, many exhibitors will be showing solutions that will raise profitability and lower costs, such as Industry 4.0, end-to-end digitalisation, robot and cobot machine tending and other types of automation. Additionally, there will be renewed interest in the reshoring of production.

Alongside the exhibition and demonstration areas, there will be a programme of free technical seminars. The seminars will give visitors and exhibitors alike valuable learning opportunities, with a particular focus on the technical, managerial and environmental issues facing manufacturers today. Presentations will include advice for small manufacturers looking to improve their relationship with customers, how to enhance a sales team’s performance, CE and UKCA marking compliance, digital process management, sustainable practices in manufacturing, and skills training.

Southern Manufacturing & Electronics co-locates every year with AutoAero, a specialist theme within the exhibition devoted to aerospace and automotive engineering. Admission is free of charge.

More information and tickets are available from:

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