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Drives & Controls helps push SM&E Week to a record high

14 June, 2024

The recent Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2024 event, held at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre in early June, drew a record number of 13,428 visitors, representing a 30% increase on the number that attended in 2023.

The organisers say that part of the reason for the record attendance was the debut of the Drives & Controls show as part of the Week. The event also encompassed other exhibitions including the Smart Factory Expo, Maintec, the Design Engineering Expo, Fluid Power & Systems and Air-Tech.

“I have been exhibiting at industrial events around the world since the 1980s, and Drives & Controls 2024 is the best event I have ever been to in terms of both the number and quality of visitors,” says Malcolm Greenhill, managing director of Charter Controls. “We have seen a surprising number from large end-users.”

Billed as the UK’s largest manufacturing and engineering technology show, Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week attracted 470 exhibitors showcasing hundreds of products and ideas. Visitors could attend more than 150 free presentations in eight exhibition-floor theatres on subjects such as digital transformation, IIoT and industrial data. There were also practical workshops run by the Institute for Manufacturing, the University of Cambridge, and demonstrations of cutting-edge technologies in the Made Smarter Innovation Showcase and the Start Up Zone.

“The buzz at Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week was undeniable” says Grace Gilling, managing director of The Manufacturer, which is part of the Nineteen Group that organised the Week “I don’t know if it was the live music at the entrance, or the Graffiti Wall, or the number of interactive features, or maybe even the specially created Smart Hoperator beer – but the excitement created a perfect atmosphere in which to do business,” she adds. “Exhibitors were having fun; visitors were having fun and it all just worked.”

Visitors were able to attend a series of summits: the Manufacturing Digitalisation Summit, focusing on digitalising manufacturing processes; the Industrial Data & AI Summit; and the Automation & Robotics Accelerator Symposium.

The Marketing to Manufacturers Breakfast proved popular, with a theatre-full of people eager to hear about the £4.5bn of government funding that manufacturers will be spending over the coming 24 months.

Fringe activities included Enginuity's 10th Annual Skills Awards, and the Top 100 Awards that celebrates heroes in the UK’s manufacturing sector.

SM&E Week 2024 was once again a carbon-neutral event, with more trees being added to the Nineteen Group Forest to offset the event’s carbon footprint.

Visitors to the Smart Manufacturing and Engineering Week were greeted by live music

In 2025, the Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week shows will take place on 4 and 5 June.

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