Farnborough: the go-to destination for engineering excellence

Event News Featured Newsletter

The mechanical engineering and electronics sectors are covered in approximately equal measure at Southern Manufacturing & Electronics, the premier trade fair for manufacturers from across the Britain, continental Europe and further afield. The show will open its doors from 6th to 8th February 2024 and, if previous years are anything to go by, will welcome more than 9,000 visitors involved in design, production, procurement and management across the manufacturing spectrum.

The event takes place every year at the Farnborough International Exhibition and Conference Centre in Hampshire. This time it is breaking new ground with the highest ever number of stand bookings by overseas companies. The show is arguably the most popular and comprehensive in the UK trade fair calendar, having grown form a small, regional gathering of local engineering firms when it started in 1997 into a major international expo hosting hundreds of firms offering cutting-edge technology and services.

It attracts big-name, often multinational companies but is also very accessible to SMEs and smaller vendors. The show organisers operate a policy of open access, discouraging larger firms from dominating the space. The resulting combination of exhibitors gives the show a vibrant atmosphere unlike that of most others. Testament to this, and to the effectiveness of the show as a forum for doing business, is the high rate of return bookings. A large proportion of Southern Manufacturing & Electronics participants are regular returnees and many exhibitors have supported the show since its inception.

Having moved to its present location in 2008, it was the first event to be held in the newly-built, world-class Farnborough complex in 2018. A noteworthy aspect is that although the various technologies and industries are diverse, there are no barriers between the areas, allowing easy cross-over between the various engineering disciplines. Visitors often say this is one of the show’s main attractions, as it can lead to the discovery of supplier companies that would probably go unnoticed. Technology Trails grouping firms having expertise in particular areas help to guide visitors around the aisles.

Hosting so many OEMs, subcontractors and other service providers under one roof makes the show an ideal venue for addressing multiple sourcing issues quickly and efficiently, especially in times when supply chains are under pressure. It is the place to see all the latest in machine tools, tooling, workholding and other production hardware, test, measurement, inspection and metrology, additive manufacturing platforms and consumables, raw materials including composites, and other technologies serving a wide range of industries including aerospace/defence, automotive, packaging, handling, logistics, energy and renewables, marine, medical/pharmaceutical, and metal processing.

There will be mechanical, electrical, electronic, electromechanical, hydraulic and pneumatic components and assemblies, surface mount technology, PCB manufacture, box build services, connectors, cables, cabinet assembly, mechatronics assembly, plastic injection and rubber moulding providers, sensors, drives, encoders, fasteners, pressings, wireforms, springs, gaskets, and more.

Automation on both the mechanical engineering and electronics sides will feature prominently, driven by a skills shortage in Britain and across Europe. Manufacturing industry is also facing difficulties recovering from the impacts of Brexit, supply chain disruptions and soaring energy costs. Consequently these themes are emerging among the exhibitors at this year’s show. There is growth in Industry 4.0 solutions and the efficiencies they bring to manufacturing, as well as in robot and cobot machine tending and other autonomous handling technology. Renewed interest in the reshoring of production and new technologies such as green energy and power-saving machinery will also be evident.

Other products and services essential to the running of factories will encompass business and manufacturing software, production and planning aids, oil and coolant supply, workshop equipment, dust and fume extraction, humidity control, workplace storage systems, bespoke case and foam manufacture, plastic packaging, hand tools, adhesives, industrial flooring, waste removal and recycling, training, freight services and financial consultancy.

Alongside the exhibition and demonstration areas, over the three days there will be free technical seminar programmes, one covering mechanical and the other electrical and electronic engineering. They 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 digital process management, advice for small manufacturers looking to improve their relationship with customers, change management, how to enhance a sales team’s performance, CE and UKCA marking compliance, sustainable practices in manufacturing, how to avoid over-reliance on key staff and the constraints that causes, and skills coaching including the best way to manage the challenges of hybrid working.

Southern Manufacturing & Electronics 2024 co-locates with AutoAero, a specialist theme within the exhibition devoted to automotive and aerospace engineering. There is free car parking at the site, which is well connected by road and rail links. A regular, complimentary bus service runs between Farnborough’s Main and North Camp railway stations and the show. Admission is also free of charge. More information and tickets are available from www.industrysouth.co.uk