12 Jul 2024

Fluid Power & compressed air innovations set to shine at Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week

Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week

The live events for Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2024 take place at the NEC, Birmingham on the 5th and 6th June. Smart Machines & Factories looks a little deeper into what visitors can expect.

Across its two halls, six exhibitions, two summits and eight education theatres Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2024 will address the key issues that concern manufacturing businesses currently, irrespective of the market sector they serve. The main themes that the wide-ranging event covers are innovation, the supply chain, sustainability, digital transformation and people and skills.

People and skills

The British Fluid Power Association is a Strategic Partner of Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week and on the key topic of people and skills Chris Butcher, Managing Director of the BFPA recently said: “The skills gap isn’t just a fluid power sector issue, it is impacting the whole manufacturing industry. All sectors are fishing in the same talent pool to secure new people into their business. To help our members start the process of engaging with learning centres, the BFPA has provided a significant amount of information to its membership advising them of local technical colleges, STEM Ambassadors and University Technical Colleges in their area. Over the coming months we will be providing a resource pack to help our members engage with their local education centres. This will enable companies to introduce their business, the products they sell or manufacture, and how young people can have a role within the fluid power industry.”

As well as seeking advice from the BFPA there are presentations focused on the people and skills topic at the Fluid Power & Systems and Air-Tech education theatres. One such presentation is from Colin Guttridge, Principal Manufacturing Engineer at Baker Hughes. Colin will be presenting on the topic of Navigating the People and Skills Landscape in Manufacturing and Engineering on the 5th June. His presentation will cover skill shortages in advanced areas such as automation, robotics, data analytics and digital technologies and the imperative of diversity and inclusion. Colin will also address technological advancements, exploring the necessity for continuous upskilling and reskilling of the workforce in response to rapid technological advancements, including IoT devices, AI systems, and advanced machinery. He will also address the aging workforce discussing the implications and the importance of knowledge transfer and succession planning to ensure continuity and innovation.

Discussed as part of a ‘fireside chat’ on Day 2, Ioana Hera, Head of Improvement, Rolls Royce will also look at the topic in a session entitled Harmonising People, Skills, and Technology: The Path to Manufacturing Innovation and Efficiency. The sessions will address how, in the dynamic landscape of modern manufacturing, the convergence of people, skills, lean improvement methodologies, digital technologies, and efficiency is crucial for sustainable growth and competitiveness. This discussion aims to explore how organisations can effectively bring these elements together to drive innovation, optimise processes, and empower their workforce.


Taking place alongside Fluid Power & Systems and Air-Tech are the Smart Factory Expo, Drives & Controls, Maintec and Design & Engineering Expo exhibitions. A notable element of Smart Factory Expo are the summits that run alongside it namely the Industrial Data and AI Summit and the Manufacturing Digitalisation Summit.

Now in its 7th year the Industrial Data & AI Summit takes place on the 5th of June and focuses on Data Management and Data Insights. The structure of the summit includes four keynote presentations, a panel discussion and two 60-minute roundtable discussion sessions. The summit allows senior leaders to hear from the sector’s most respected experts, such as the Head of Digital and Data at BAE Systems and the Senior Director of Data and Analytics at Mars, as well as to share their knowledge and experiences with their peers. The roundtable sessions offer a unique opportunity for in-depth discussions on topics ranging from Data Integration and Management to Developing a Data Driven Business to Generative AI.

Taking place on both the 5th and 6th June is The Manufacturing Digitalisation Summit. This summit includes eight keynote presentations, two panel discussions and four 60-minute roundtable discussion sessions. The Summit focuses on how digitalisation is changing how products are designed, produced, used and maintained as well as transforming the operations, processes and energy footprints of factories and supply chains. This summit is broken down into two distinct streams, the Enterprise stream is for those working within businesses with revenues in excess of £100 million while the Growth stream is for those less than £100 million (theoretically classed as SMEs)

While the summits charge an entry fee there is also a great amount of free-to-access education taking place during the event with no less than 144 presentations taking place across the eight educational theatres. The theatres cover: Drives & Controls, Digital Transformation, IIoT & Connectivity, Industrial Data & AI, Innovation, Maintenance and, as mentioned above, Air-Tech Solutions and Fluid Power & Systems.

Allocating time away from the workplace to visit events at the NEC is a challenge and this is appreciated by Nineteen Group, the organisers of Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week which is why they are doing everything they can to ensure there is a huge amount to see and do to maximise the Return on Investment for a visitor.

As well as the events mentioned in this article taking place at the NEC at the same time are other relevant events including the UK Garage & Bodyshop event run by Messe Frankfurt; Med-Tech Innovation Expo and TCT 3Sixty from Rapid News Group and Subcon from the Mark Allen Group.

With so much going on during Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week the organisers will be creating ‘visitor trails’ to help attendees tailor their experience to their own areas of interest.

To build a personal trail visitors must be registered in advance by clicking here.