Good design rarely springs fully-formed into existence, but is arrived at through numerous iterations and progressive improvements. Such things can’t be rushed, and this is one reason why products that have stood the test of time generally become known as ‘classics’. And the same could be said of events. What starts as a good ‘What-If’ idea, slowly evolves with each repetition, eventually becoming refined into something more akin to an institution. So it is with the south’s longest-running and largest industrial technology show, Southern Manufacturing & Electronics. The event returns to FIVE Farnborough on February 12th and 13th for its 18th edition, promising more exhibitors and more to see than ever, writes the show organiser European Trade & Exhibition Services (ETES).
What started as a modest gathering of a hundred or so engineering firms has mushroomed into what is arguably the most important annual industrial technology show in the country. 2013 witnessed some 700 exhibitors and more than 8,500 visitors over the two days; 2014 promises to be larger still, with around 800 companies taking part and a 10,000 visitor count not looking at all unrealistic.
Clearly, Southern is a show that has not only weathered some tough times for engineering and industry, but one that has found its unique niche. One reason for that is its broad appeal. If exhibitions were rated by ‘Ideas per square metre’, the Southern Manufacturing & Electronics Show would certainly be ranked at the top of the list. Incorporating all aspects of manufacturing, electronics and precision engineering in one venue means that an incredible array of design and production ideas are concentrated in a compact space, making it almost impossible to avoid bumping into something new and interesting, no matter what particular branch of engineering you’re from. Virtually every kind of industrial activity is represented: From PCB production to precision machining; prototype design to packaging and logistics, it’s all there in one easily-accessible venue.
However, size doesn’t necessarily mean that only the big names take part. There certainly are a large number of well-known international firms there. But another feature of Southern is that the cost of participating has been deliberately kept within the means of the smaller exhibitor, making the event one of the few shows where modest-sized firms can go toe-to-toe with international giants. Consequently, there is a high percentage of specialist SMEs exhibiting at the show, the majority of whom do not exhibit elsewhere. It is these highly specialised firms that often have the most interesting ideas, and in combination with all the latest technologies from some of the world’s largest industrial technology forms, this makes for an absorbing blend of reliability and novelty.
As the show continues to grow, it has brought in more and more large exhibitors. Of Southern's major international exhibitors, the majority return to Farnborough in 2014; for instance RS Components, Fanuc, Hepco Motion, LG Motion, Faro, HAAS Automation, Kawasaki Robotics, MYDATA Automation, Amada, Nikon, Yamazaki Mazak, Bystronic, Fronius, Faro and Brady to name just a few.
As befits a show based next to Farnborough Airport – home of the famous Airshow - it is now a truly international event, with exhibitors travelling from across the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy and even Japan and India to take part. AMES SA from Barcelona travels to Farnborough for the first time to promote its structural sintered parts, soft-magnetic parts, gears, self-lubricating bearings, filters & porous metallic components. AMES is considered as one of the main specialists worldwide in the manufacture of self-lubricating sintered bearings in bronze & iron material using a wide range of lubricating oils & also produces short and large series of metallic sintered filters and silencers. From its manufacturing facility in India, Parker Overseas designs and manufacturers wound magnetic components like transformers, coils, inductors, chokes, modules etc. UL & VDE approved, its factory is accredited to ISO 9001:2008 and 14001:2004. Takachi Electronics Enclosures is one of Japan’s leading enclosure manufacturers offering numerous, high-quality enclosures, both standard and bespoke. The range is impressive, taking in aluminium and plastic enclosures, handheld enclosure, die cast aluminium box, stainless steel box, 19" rack mount enclosures and a number of IP-rated solutions.
They are joined by various substantial new names from the UK, among them Brother UK and Olympus, showcasing its range of industrial systems for the first time in 2014. Neighbours BAE Systems take part for the first time as an exhibitor; Pickering Electronics showcases its range of relays and switching solutions. In addition to these companies are literally hundreds of vendors delivering countless sub-assemblies, mechanical engineering components, machine vision systems, and components. And that’s not even half of it…the show is also one of the main markets in the UK for subcontract services, and these too will be well represented by fabricators such as Serious Engineering and Fife Fabrications, precision engineers such as DJJ Precision Engineering and Aerotech Precision Engineering, electronics manufacturers such as Briton EMS and Simtek, and PCB specialists such as Eurocircuits, Spirit Circuits and many others.
The event also hosts various demonstration areas where visitors can see the latest machine tools and production hardware being put through their paces. With prospects for UK manufacturing slowly improving and with various tax incentives currently in place, it’s anticipated that Southern 2014 is going to see a marked increase in serious buying activity. Companies such as XYZ Machine Tools, Amada, Yamazaki Mazak, Ajax Machine Tools and Bystronic will be running live machinery demonstrations, but they’ll be a lot of other kinds of capital equipment on show too, including electronics assembly systems from Blundell Production Equipment, MYDATA Automation and Juki Automation, advanced welding systems from Fronius and even modular clean rooms from Connect 2 Cleanrooms.
Along with the breath-taking array of industrial hardware on display the Southern Manufacturing show also hosts an extremely popular free seminar programme over both days of the event. Covering both business and technical topics, the programme is delivered by acknowledged experts in their fields and designed to be of practical benefit to anyone involved in manufacturing and industry. Last year saw several sessions oversubscribed by two or three times.
Some of the highlights from the 2104 programme include Stephan Knox’s Designing for Commercial Success, returning for the third year by popular demand. Other sessions will look at exporting to emerging markets, EMC legislation, CE Marking, automation and manufacturing best practice. Open to both exhibitors and visitors, demand for places is always high and pre-registration is strongly advised. Simply visit the website for full details and to secure your seat.
Entry to Southern Manufacturing & Electronics 2014 is completely free to business visitors, and FIVE Farnborough offers plentiful free on-site car parking and straightforward access by road or public transport. A free shuttle bus operates daily between Farnborough’s North Camp and Main railway stations and the show. To register online for event tickets, simply head to www.industrysouth.co.uk or call 01784 880 890. Visitors can also check all the most recent news from the show by visiting the official blog page at http://blog.industrysouth.co.uk, by following @industry_co_uk and the #southmanf hashtag on Twitter or by joining the show’s LinkedIn group at http://linkedin.industrysouth.co.uk