Show of strength

This year’s Southern Manufacturing and Electronics Show is shifting up a gear with a new venue and the addition of an automotive/aerospace event, reports Julia Pierce.


Next month the Southern Manufacturing and Electronics Show will embark on its second decade of promoting a range of engineering companies and expertise.

To mark the occasion, the event is moving to a new venue with improved facilities, one that is capable of hosting some new attractions. The show will take place on 6 and 7 February at the Farnborough International Venue and Events (FIVE) centre, home of the world-famous Farnborough International Airshow. The venue is well served by road and rail links and has 10,000 free car parking spaces, as well as numerous hotels and restaurants nearby.

This year’s show will retain the elements that have made it a past success, including free seminar programmes, technology trails and specialist areas. But it will be bigger than ever before, with a 25 per cent increase in the amount of exhibition space.

Running alongside Southern Manufacturing will be a new event called Auto Aero Farnborough 08. This show aims to take advantage of the high concentration of automotive and aerospace companies in the south of England, particularly along the coast and the M4 corridor.

According to the show’s organisers, there is a huge market for specialist engineering services in these areas. Their statistics show that 22 per cent of visitors to last year’s event were from the autosport or automotive sector, while more than 25 per cent were from the aerospace industry — hence the creation of a section dedicated to these industries.

Highlights of this year’s free seminar programme, which is relevant to both the main and specialist events, include topics such as: Six Sigma, an innovative approach for both large and small companies; the cost of, and solutions to, the problem of component counterfeiting; and advice on how to become a supplier to the autosport sector.

There will also be information on implementation of the EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive and EU chemicals legislation REACH, from government-supported company Envirowise; and news on the latest IPC standards, presented by the training organisation Advanced Rework Technology.

Meanwhile, a host of exhibitors will display products and services in a range of fields including surface engineering and coatings; composites; low-cost tooling; digital manufacture; engineering components; and assembly integration.

One company with a stand at the event is PRD, which makes a range of specialist fasteners, some of which are created on a bespoke basis. ‘We will be providing information on our manufacturing capabilities, including details of our 24-hour call out service,’ said Gemma Butler, marketing assistant at the company.

Intertronics — which provides adhesives and related equipment to high-tech and high-performance assembly sectors such as the medical devices and automotive industries — will display new, more affordable robotic technology.

‘Our stand will include one of our latest adhesive dispensing robots,’ said managing director Peter Swanson. ‘The smallest of these cost around £4,000, so customers who previously might have thought that such technology was inaccessible may now be able to afford it. It should appeal at a time when most companies are suffering from the twin pressures of foreign competition and internal cost cutting.’

Also exhibiting at the show will be Responsive Engineering, which provides services including CNC machining, waterjet cutting, laser cutting and specialist welding and fabrication, as well as quality planning and project management.

Responsive Engineering managing director Dennis Henderson said that as well as providing information on the markets in which it operates and demonstrating the type of components it makes, Responsive’s stand will highlight ‘a number of large projects that we have recently undertaken, including work at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, south London, where we won a £1m contract for work on the Royal Observatory’.

With so much on offer from such a wide range of providers, it should be easy to find companies and seminars of interest at this newly expanded event — particularly for those seeking vital information on moving into, or expanding, their business in the automotive and aerospace markets.