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Smart Manufacturing and Engineering Week 2024: Maintec, STEM, Thrust and beyond

09 May 2024

IN JUNE 2024, the NEC Birmingham will host Smart Manufacturing and Engineering Week (SM&E Week). In this article, IPE readers will learn what’s happening at the expanded Maintec exhibition, which this year includes an Educational Theatre dedicated to Maintenance Solutions.

It will also look at innovative projects such as ThrustWSH, which features in the Best of British Showcase area and a newly announced collaboration with the UK Lubricants Association (UKLA). With those highlights and its full STEM programme, SM&E Week 2024 is set to deliver an immersive experience, merging hands-on learning with strategic insights and fostering a vibrant community of industry leaders and innovators.

Spotlight on Maintec: Revolutionising Maintenance for the Future of Manufacturing

Maintec brings together the brightest and best in the world of maintenance, reliability, and asset management. This year, the exhibition has been expanded to provide a comprehensive showcase of the latest advancements and solutions that are driving the MRO industry forward.

Situated in Hall 4, the integration of Maintec within SM&E Week allows for a greater synthesis of maintenance issues with the overarching themes of the event such as digital transformation, sustainability, and innovation. This year, special attention is being given to the transformative impact of predictive maintenance technologies and the integration of AI and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions into traditional maintenance strategies. This focus is complemented by a series of workshops and seminars designed to impart practical knowledge and facilitate peer-to-peer learning and networking.

Enhancing Industry Knowledge on Lubrication and Maintenance

SM&E Week’s newly announced collaboration with the UK Lubricants Association (UKLA) is set to highlight the critical role of lubrication in maintenance. This partnership enriches the educational offerings at the event, ensuring that attendees gain insights into best practices and new regulatory standards affecting the lubricants sector, thereby enhancing their capability to maintain high operational standards.

Maintenance Theatre: Showcasing Cutting-Edge Strategies 

The Maintenance Educational Theatre will be a focal point for those keen on delving into the latest trends and innovations in maintenance within the manufacturing and engineering sectors. Located within Maintec, this theatre will host a diverse lineup of free-to-attend sessions, designed to cater to a broad spectrum of maintenance professionals, from hands-on technicians to strategic managers.

This year’s educational content has been curated to address the entire lifecycle of maintenance management, encompassing emerging technologies, best practices, and key challenges faced by the industry today. Attendees will benefit from keynote presentations by leading experts who will share case studies and research findings, providing insights into effective maintenance strategies that leverage digital tools like predictive analytics and IoT technologies.

One of the highlights includes a keynote presentation by Jonathan Peedell, head of maintenance at Bentley Motors, who will explore the "The Implementation of a Smart World - Seamlessly Integrating New and Old.” His presentation will examine the role of data in creating AI-driven, predictable maintenance model across new and ageing assets. Attendees can expect to receive insights about how it’s possible to optimise maintenance workflows by bridging the divide between advanced solutions and existing infrastructures in automotive manufacturing.

Another keynote comes from Philip Dewson, head of maintenance and facilities at Brompton Bicycle, who will explore the power of diversity, strategic planning, and data-driven insights in driving continuous improvement and operational excellence. Attendees will find out how embracing innovation and fostering a culture of collaboration can propel maintenance teams beyond traditional boundaries, unlocking new opportunities for growth and efficiency.

Another significant session will be led by Christopher Hallum from UE Systems, who will present on "Condition Based Lubrication: The Right Way to Prevent Premature Bearing Failures." Hallum will address the shortcomings of traditional lubrication methods that still lead to premature bearing failures and will highlight how a condition-based approach utilising ultrasound technology can optimise lubrication practices to reduce major causes of early bearing wear.

STEM: Empowering the Next Generation

The STEM program is a pivotal component of SM&E Week, designed to spark interest and cultivate future talent. Through interactive workshops, hands-on demos, and presentations led by industry professionals, students and apprentices will embark on an explorative journey into manufacturing and engineering careers. 

Highlights include the IMechE Automation Challenge showcasing groundbreaking automation projects, the FANUC WorldSkills Qualifiers providing hands-on industrial robotics experiences, and the Enginuity Skills Awards celebrating pioneering apprentices, skills developers, and innovative engineers. 

Engineering UK, SM&E Week’s People and Skills partner, will share insights on nurturing the future workforce. Attendees can engage with experts on organisations shaping the industry's talent pipeline. The dedicated STEM program promises a dive into the technologies shaping manufacturing's future while fostering practical skills and recognising exceptional emerging talent.

ThrustWSH Project: Engineering Speed and Inspiring Innovation

Heading the Best of British showcase, the ThrustWSH project exemplifies British engineering's prowess. Led by Richard Noble OBE, it builds upon the UK's legacy of breakthroughs, from Thrust2 to the supersonic ThrustSSC. ThrustWSH aims to break the world water speed record, which has stood since 1978.

The project integrates STEM education, providing schools with real-time data, nurturing the next generation of innovators. It showcases cutting-edge hydrofoil and super-cavitation technologies, ensuring stability and safety. The team's rigorous approach, using comprehensive simulations and testing, highlights Britain’s engineering excellence.

At the event interactive technology exhibits and talks from the team will allow attendees to explore ThrustWSH, underscoring the UK's capacity for complex, sustainable engineering projects. 

The Made Smarter Innovation Showcase

The Made Smarter Innovation Showcase, featuring over 40 pioneering businesses, is a key highlight of Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2024. Demonstrating Innovate UK's commitment to transforming UK manufacturing, the showcase presents cutting-edge solutions focused on net zero, people, productivity, and resilience. From energy-efficient additive manufacturing to AI-driven inspection systems, IoT-based monitoring devices, optimised supply chains, and transformative pharmaceutical research, the innovations span diverse sectors. The Made Smarter Innovation Challenge, part of the government's Industrial Strategy Fund, has invested over £120m into these groundbreaking projects, propelling UK manufacturing towards a sustainable and globally competitive future.

Beyond the Core: Exploring the Festival and Networking Highlights of SM&E Week 2024

As Smart Manufacturing and Engineering Week 2024 draws near, it's clear that the event is set to be a comprehensive showcase of the forefront of industrial innovation, enriched with educational insights and engaging experiences. Beyond the attractions covered above, SM&E Week also hosts a variety of co-located exhibitions including Smart Factory Expo, Design and Engineering Expo, Drives and Controls, Fluid Power and Systems, and Air-Tech, which together present a holistic view of the technologies and trends across engineering and manufacturing.

The integration of initiatives like the Connect+ Live Hosted Meetings Programme underscores the event’s commitment to maximising productivity and engagement, ensuring that every attendee can make the most of their visit. Complementing the professional and educational aspects are the festival-style attractions such as the Guitar Legends Competition and the Smoothie Bike Challenge, which offer unique ways to relax and network in a vibrant, creative atmosphere.

With its blend of cutting-edge technological showcases, deep-dive educational sessions, and engaging interactive experiences, SM&E Week 2024 is not just an event but a celebration of the future of manufacturing and engineering. It promises to be an essential gathering for industry professionals looking to innovate, learn, and connect within the global manufacturing community.

To register for a free ticket visit: https://www.mandeweek.co.uk/