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Maintec: Content is king

09 June 2017

New ownership and a strong focus on educational outreach helped deliver a 62% increase in maintenance engineering visitors at this year’s Maintec exhibition

When Western Business Exhibitions acquired the Maintec maintenance and asset management show in 2016, a plan was put in place to re-invigorate the 40-year old event by focussing on educational outreach.

Maintec had firmly established itself as a date in the diary for the maintenance, repair and operations community, but Western knew that the exhibition had to evolve if it was to thrive over the long-term. 

As a result, a plan was put in place to deliver a comprehensive educational programme to help gain media attention and attract new visitors to the show.

“We wanted to re-position Maintec to significantly update the visitor and exhibitor experience,” says Tim Else, event director at Western Business Exhibitions.

“The show had a good reputation built up over many years, but in today’s hectic business environment you have to work hard to keep people coming through the doors. We decided to make Maintec more than an exhibition. It needed to become a place where delegates could also come to hear thought-leading content from some of the world’s foremost experts in their fields.”

Initially, a whitepaper addressing key digitalisation trends in the maintenance sector was written to help promote the show. The whitepaper outlined the increasing interconnection of modern factories, a trend commonly referred to as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The document explained how sensors and data acquisition was leading to smarter factories based on preventative maintenance methodologies, while also transforming the way that equipment was being monitored and repaired out in the field.

IIoT and other forward-looking technologies such as wearables and augmented reality then acted as the focus of discussion for two content streams at Maintec, amounting to more than 15 hours of free conferences and seminars with more than 30 industry figures, taking place across three days. Speakers came from around the world, and included Se-Hsieng, head of Internet of Things in Northern Europe at Vodafone, and Professor Rajkumar Roy, director of through-life engineering services at Cranfield University. The conference attracted packed audiences, with lively questions and answer sessions from the floor.

Exhibitors at Maintec found that the educational outreach was complementary to the marketing and sales activities on the stands. Richard Ludlam, marketing manager at industrial equipment supplier Eriks, said: “We found the conference sessions very valuable. The technical content was of the highest quality. IIoT is becoming increasingly important, and Eriks has already done a lot of work looking at how this technology might impact the industrial sector.”

John Saysell, head of business development and training at MCP Consulting Group, added: “Focused knowledge development at Maintec was a real success. The sessions were thought-provoking and interactive. All trade shows need to invest in strong conference line-ups to encourage visitors to leave their offices.” 

The investment in content certainly paid dividends at Maintec, which took place in March at the NEC in Birmingham, with a 62% increase in maintenance engineering attendees compared with the previous year. Post-event research showed that 15 of the UK’s top 20 manufacturing sites sent representatives to the show. Visitors came from many leading organisations including BAE Systems, BP, Caterpillar, EDF Energy, Nestle, Rolls-Royce and Govia Thameslink Railways.

Looking forward, Western Business Exhibitions plans to build on its successful content strategy to support Maintec 2018, which takes place in November of that year. This will include an integrated marketing and PR campaign including blogs and feature articles aimed at building anticipation in advance of the show. Maintec 2018 will also feature a top-level conference programme looking at key technologies and trends.