Interview: Southern Manufacturing and market trends, Brexit, and the future

Electronics Weekly asks Phil Valentine – MD at European Trade & Exhibition Services, which runs the annual Southern Manufacturing and Electronics trade show – about the show, its future and UK manufacturing’s post-Brexit prospects.

Interview: Southern Manufacturing and market trends, Brexit, and the futureWhat are the key elements of this year’s event?

The show keeps growing; there are about 800 exhibitors this year. Visitors come to see new technologies, components, products, materials and services across many sectors.

The seminar programme is wide-ranging and covers international accreditation, to 3D printing and the industrial Internet of things (IoT).

Southern Manufacturing: Say hello to Electronics Weekly at M133 »

Auto Aero 2017 is the specialist automotive/aerospace engineering exhibition and reflects the base of specialists in the locality.

This year, we have interests from automotive, electronic components, contract manufacturers, aerospace and defence, packaging and labelling, marine engineering, off shore and specialist suppliers across many industries.

Show Preview: Southern Manufacturing & Electronics 2017 »

Next year, Southern celebrates its 20th anniversary – how has the event evolved in that time?

From the beginning the basic concept behind Southern Manufacturing & Electronics has remained simple; to create an accessible event that has real relevance.

Its location in Farnborough is at the centre of one of the most important areas for engineering and innovation in the UK, close to the M4’s high-tech corridor and large concentration of electronics companies based in southern counties.

The headquarters of BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin are a short walk from the show site, nearly one third (32%) of the UK’s marine industry is located within a 50-mile radius and 37% of the UK’s medical technology workforce is employed in the south.

All these sectors are supported by a network of suppliers – typically SMEs – offering specialist components and engineering services, and it’s these kinds of businesses that remain the focus of the show.”

How do these changes reflect trends and developments in the market?

The show attracts some of the world’s largest engineering suppliers, yet is still accessible to the many smaller firms operating across the south and west.

Technology trends that are represented now are different from those we saw in the early years – for example reflecting increased automation and the industrial IoT, wireless technologies, an increase in CAD software capabilities and even 3D printers on stands.

What does the show tell us about the status of UK manufacturing and electronics industry?

Since the referendum [on the UK leaving the EU] there has been a great deal of uncertainty about the precise implications for manufacturing.

However we have witnessed a surge in stand bookings for 2017. The low pound adds a competitive edge to exports and the on-shoring movement; world economy forecasts for the year look encouraging and the UK’s reputation for innovation and quality remain as high as ever.

Whatever happens post-Brexit, the UK’s manufacturing and engineering expertise will remain in demand globally and a core contributor to the economy. I firmly believe the UK
will still be an attractive market for European companies.

What is next for Southern Manufacturing & Electronics?

Construction is already under way by Farnborough International for a new, bigger, purpose-built exhibition and conference centre.

This will change the dynamics of the event industry in the south of the UK, with the site’s international links and accessibility. Southern Manufacturing & Electronics 2018
will be the first event scheduled to take place in the new venue.


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