Plant & Works Engineering
M&E Week becomes industrial sectors biggest event
Published:  19 June, 2023

Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2023, produced in association with The Manufacturer, has become the biggest industrial sector event in the UK in just its second year, according to statistics released by event organisers The Nineteen Group. Over the course of the live shows on the 7th and 8th June, 10,355 manufacturers, designers, engineers and maintenance professionals attended the event at the NEC which had 342 exhibitors.

The week began with digital sessions produced by The Manufacturer, a BBC radio broadcast followed by four live events featuring high profile speakers including Nusrat Ghani, Minister of State at the Department for Business & Trade who gave the welcome address in the M&E Keynote Theatre. Over 150 speakers took to the stage during the two live event days with standing room only in the Maintec Keynote theatre sponsored by RS. The six solution theatres covering Automation & Robotics, Digital Transformation (sponsored by Google Cloud), Innovation (sponsored by Siemens), Industrial Data & AI, IIOT & Connectivity and Maintenance were also packed on both days.

Senior manufacturing leaders attended the Manufacturing Digitalisation Summit and the SME Growth Summit, organised by The Manufacturer, while also finding time to visit the Google Leaders’ Lounge and The Manufacturer Top 100 Award ceremony which celebrates the heroes of UK manufacturing and recognises their contribution to the sector. As part of the STEM programme more than 450 students attended the exhibition on the final afternoon finding much to inspire them in the Made Smarter Innovation Alley, the Innovation Village and beyond.

Haf Cennydd, Portfolio Director for Manufacturing & Engineering Week said, “To have built the biggest UK event for the industrial sector in just two years has surpassed our expectations and clearly demonstrates that bringing together Smart Factory Expo, Design & Engineering Expo and Maintec was a great idea. With industrial events also taking place at the same time and venue run by other event organisers plus the addition of Drives & Controls, Air-Tech and Fluid Power & Systems, there will only be more to see and do in 2024.”

Manufacturing & Engineering Week has the support of most of the high-profile organisations, institutions and trade bodies representing the UK’s industrial and manufacturing sector, none more so than Make UK. Stephen Phipson CBE, CEO of MAKE UK and chair of Manufacturing & Engineering Week said of this year’s event, “Manufacturing and Engineering Week has gone from strength to strength from last year to this year and we expect it to grow even further next year. Key challenges were high on the agenda for the second year with skills, supply chain and sustainability discussed in detail. It was great to see the show also offset their carbon emissions once again by planting thousands more trees in the M&E Week Forest.”

Vitally, as well as being a showcase for innovation and the sector, the event delivered in terms of return on investment for its exhibitors. Matthew Alridge, MD of igus UK, a business known for having a long history in using exhibitions as a main source of its business development activity said, “It’s been fantastic. Probably the busiest show I can remember in the last decade,”. Indeed, some exhibitors went beyond taking business enquiries and closed business during the event with MaintMaster Systems signing a contract with one of Europe's leading producers of polyethene films, flexographic printing and packaging products - SIVA Group - as their new computerised maintenance management solution provider.

Maintec in particular has benefited from its inclusion in M&E Week with Chris Hansford of Hansford Sensors saying, “I have been coming to Maintec for 36 years and this is the busiest one I can remember. The event has had a shot in the arm which is great for our business and the maintenance sector as a whole”.

Unsurprisingly such a positive performance saw a great appetite for exhibitors to be involved in 2024’s event with Maintec leading the way with 91% of exhibitors rebooking before the end of the show. With many other companies also coming into the sales lounge to secure stands for 2024 this has led to an expansion of the floorplan to accommodate the growing interest for next year.

Engineers Without Borders UK, the official charity partner for Manufacturing & Engineering Week, used its presence as an opportunity to launch a global responsibility competency compass to address the sustainability skills gap in engineering. John Kraus, CEO said, “The event has given the whole team a boost. It’s given us a platform for our launch and an opportunity to network directly with people working in industry and their representative bodies. Our ambitions and those of Nineteen Group align in that we wish to ensure that responsible engineering principles are being embedded at every level and that decisions made balance the needs of all people with the limits of our planet.”

Peter Jones, CEO of Nineteen Group commented on the success of the event saying, “We gave our team the licence to disrupt the accepted norms of what an industrial sector trade show looked like, felt like and achieved and they have over-performed by every measure. From the Nexa3D guitar players’ competition to the festival-like stilt walkers and branding to the sheer sense of excitement generated on the exhibition floor it's been superb, and it will only get better next year as we add Drives & Controls, Air-Tech and Fluid Power & Systems into the mix.”

Grace Gilling, Managing Director of The Manufacturer commented “We were delighted to deliver a meaningful series of events that provide inspiration, insights, connections and a celebration of our industrial sector, and are looking forward to building an even bigger experience next year!”

Dates for the live events for M&E Week in 2024 have been confirmed as 5-6 June for Smart Factory Expo, Design & Engineering Expo and Maintec (2 days, Hall 4) and 4-6 June for Drives & Controls, Air-Tech and Fluid Power & Systems (3 Days, Hall 5).

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