13 Apr 2024

AI takes centre stage at Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week

AI SM&E 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 takes a look at what visitors can expect at the event.

Across its two halls, six exhibitions, two summits and eight education theatres Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2024 (SM&E Week) addresses the key issues that concern manufacturing and engineering businesses, 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.

To those familiar with SM&E Week it will come as no surprise that education and peer to peer learning plays an important role. This year Maintec has its own dedicated Solutions Theatre that will host a keynote address on each day of the event as well as a schedule of end user led sessions and new technology presentations with a particular focus on how AI technology is beginning to permeate the maintenance sector.

The Maintec Solutions Theatre Keynote address on 5th June is presented by Jonathan Peedell, Head of Maintenance at Bentley Motors.  Jonathan’s presentation, The implementation of a Smart world – seamlessly integrating new and old will look at the continued use of standalone and non-connected equipment and its place in a cost-conscious Industry 4.0 factory. The presentation will cover wireless and smart sensor technology and how best to make a timely implementation without expensive changes to hardware and software. How to integrate new and old technology and how to continue using old equipment but make it smart and wirelessly connected. Plus, how to make use of Data to create an AI driven, predictable maintenance model for both new and old assets.

On day two of the event, 6th June, the Keynote will be delivered by Philip Dewson, Head of Maintenance and Facilities at Brompton Bicycle. Philip’s talk is on the subject of Beyond Bolts and Bearings: Holistic facilities and maintenance management and impact on culture. This presentation unveils a transformative approach to facilities and maintenance management and how to foster a thriving organisational culture to in turn discover how a diverse and innovative maintenance and facilities team can go beyond fixing equipment and impact culture and the bottom line.

As well as these keynote addresses there is a full schedule of presentations in the Maintec Solutions Theatre. For example, ERIKS’ Lewis Bratcher will share the findings of The Maintenance, Repair and Operations Supply Chain, a recently published report that highlights problems and opportunities in the engineering stores, MRO procurement and supply chain arena.

There are also many presentations addressing the exciting developments happening in the maintenance sector regarding AI. Ankush, Malhotra, President of Fluke Reliability, will present on the topic of Revolutionising Maintenance: Harnessing AI for Predictive Maintenance and Enhanced Efficiency while Charles, Wright, Director of Data & AI, Columbus will deliver a talk on Simplifying AI Adoption in Manufacturing.

Exhibitors

SM&E Week brings together a wide variety of the most influential organisations in the sector – from giant global businesses to SMEs to Trade bodies to Startups. Premier partners for the 2024 event include Charter Controls, 3M, Abdex Hose and Couplings, Amazon RME, Binder UK, ELGi Compressors SRL, Emerson Process Management Shared Services, ERIKS Industrial Services Ltd, ETA Enclosures, igus UK, Jenny Science AG, SMC Corporation, Teseo SRL, Lutze and Wurth Electronics.

A notable element of the planning for SM&E Week is the advisory council that the organisers bring together. The council includes representatives from the event’s Strategic Partners such as the British Manufacturing Consortium; The Centre for Compressor Technology; the iMechE; Engineering UK; GAMBICA; IED; BFPA; IFM University of Cambridge; The Manufacturer, Made Smarter. These organisations collectively steer the educational element of SM&E Week, ensuring that presenters are addressing the crucial topics that people are interested in and in most cases, they have exhibition stands themselves so that they can talk to their members or answer questions from visitors.

The charity partner for SM&E Week is, once again, Engineers Without Borders UK, an organisation focused on ensuring that globally responsible engineering is taught as a principle on engineering degree courses and used within industry.

Co-located events

As mentioned at the beginning of the article there is a whole host of related activities and attractions taking place during Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week. Central to SM&E Week are the exhibitions, of which there are three taking place in Hall 4. Of great importance to PWE readers is the newly invigorated Maintec, the UK’s longest standing exhibition dedicated to the maintenance, reliability and asset management industry. To ensure that Maintec visitors access the information they want there will also be a ‘Maintenance Safety Trail’ which visitors can follow to ensure they see the right businesses and technologies dedicated to ensuring maintenance is conducted safely.

Also in hall 4 is Smart Factory Expo which is designed to allow manufacturers to be the most efficient, the most sustainable, and the most profitable in the world and where visitors can find the insights, the solutions, and the connections for their digital transformation projects. Similar to Maintec a ‘Cyber Zone Trail’ will be part of the exhibition directing visitors to the technologies and solutions that address cyber threats and the real threat of cyber-attack that manufacturers and other large scale digitally focused businesses face.

The Design & Engineering Expo is also in Hall 4 and, as so much at the event, it focuses on innovation so that design and engineering professionals who want to reduce costs, streamline and optimise future design and engineering strategy can find what they need.

A major addition to SM&E Week in 2024 are the exhibitions taking place in Hall 5. Pre-registration ensures seamless access to all the exhibitions mentioned in this article with a single badge and for 2024 this includes Drives & Controls, Fluid Power & Systems and Air-Tech. Drives & Controls has always been a major exhibition and this year it will be enhanced by being part of SM&E Week.  Drives and Controls traditionally brings together suppliers of state-of-the-art equipment covering critical areas such as energy efficiency, machine safety, drives, motors, motion control, robotics and automation and much more.

Also in Hall 5 is the Fluid Power & Systems exhibition that focuses on hydraulic and pneumatic equipment for the industrial and mobile markets. This event is endorsed by the British Fluid Power Association who will also have an exhibition stand to meet with its members to discuss their education, training and other needs. Finally, in Hall 5, the Air Tech exhibition focuses on the compressed air, generator and vacuum markets. As you would expect, these exhibitions contain their own educational theatres and are strong additions to the events of the week.

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.