Events News

Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2024 record attendance

17th June 2024
Harry Fowle

Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2024 celebrates its ‘buzziest’ ever year with new record attendance.

From robot dogs having dance offs with Terminator robots, to incredible guitar work from the winner of the Guitar Legends competition, to Richard Noble OBE’s inexhaustible passion for involving young people in engineering and his next world record attempt - Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2024 certainly delivered on its promise to be ‘a Festival of Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering’. Proof of the extraordinary success is that it drew a record number of 13,428 attendees, an increase of 30% on 2023.

“The buzz at Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week was undeniable” said Grace Gilling, Managing Director, The Manufacturer, part of Nineteen Group “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. Exhibitors were having fun; visitors were having fun and it all just...worked.”

Researched and produced by The Manufacturer, who are owned by award-winning organisers, Nineteen Group, the event reaffirmed its status as the largest manufacturing and engineering technology show in the UK, with 470 exhibitors showcasing hundreds of innovative products and solutions. Across eight free-to-attend solutions theatres, the event offered a dynamic mix of more than 150 insightful presentations on subjects such as digital transformation, IIOT and connectivity and industrial data, as well as practical workshops by the Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge, and cutting-edge technology in the Made Smarter Innovation Showcase and the Start Up Zone.

Part of the reason for attracting a record attendance in 2024 has been attributed to the co-location of Drives & Controls for the first time as part of Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week.

The event included a dizzying number of activities, from JJA Snack’s working chocolate factory to Fanuc hosting the world skills qualifiers for industrial robotics, some of which began prior to the exhibitions opening their doors and some that took place after they closed. “I was really surprised” said Jon Morris, Marketing Manager from ifm “I heard The Shadow Monkeys band start the after-show party at 4.30pm and looked at our stand and the others close by, and they were all still busy, which is unusual as experienced exhibitors will attest. With so much to see and do visitors stayed on".

Attendees looking for insight and knowledge-sharing were able to join the event’s summits; the Manufacturing Digitalisation Summit focused on the opportunities and challenges of digitalising manufacturing processes. For those seeking deeper, specialist debates, the Industrial Data & AI Summit and the Automation & Robotics Accelerator Symposium provided forums for collaboration and discussion on niche topics within manufacturing.

The Marketing to Manufacturers Breakfast proved very popular, with a full theatre and a crowd gathered outside to hear about the £4.5billion of government funding that manufacturers will be spending over the next 24 months.

Some of the fringe activities that took place included Enginuity's 10th Annual Skills Awards, celebrating excellence in skills development within engineering and manufacturing, and the Top 100 Awards that celebrates the heroes of the UK’s manufacturing sector.

Plus, the STEM programme featured several academic institutions and partners, such as Coventry University with its IMechE Formula AI Car and Formula Student cars who were talking to visiting students and pupils about a future in engineering. The new visitor trails ensured inquisitive visitors maximised their learning and networking opportunities with themed stands and guided experiences. The trails explored cutting-edge projects and innovations such as the Best of British Showcase and ensured interactions with industry professionals and, for students and apprentices, insights into potential career paths in engineering and manufacturing.

With its festival vibe, well-being zone and eclectic mix of attractions and distractions, Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week has certainly created its own niche but essentially its role is to connect buyers with sellers and in this regard, it has been a huge success. As Malcolm Greenhill from Charter Controls said, “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. We have seen a surprising number from large end users.”

The core dates for the Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week exhibitions in 2025 have been confirmed as the 4th and 5th of June. SM&E Week 2024 was once again a carbon neutral event with more trees being added to the Nineteen Group Forest to off-set the event’s carbon footprint.

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