As growth in the UK's manufacturing sector continues to accelerate, with manufacturers reporting a rise in sales and indicating plans for expansion, industry professionals are gearing up to visit the PPMA Show 2015, which the organisers describe as the UK's premier, free-to-attend complete production line event for processing and packaging machinery – set to be the largest of its kind in recent years.
Results from the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) Annual Barometer revealed that over 95 per cent of manufacturers expect to maintain or increase their investment on machinery, premises and new technology, demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement and making the PPMA Show the right place for processing and packaging professionals to discover the new technologies and product launches from across the UK's manufacturing industries.
Returning to the NEC, Birmingham, the show will run over three days (29 September to 1 October 2015) and will be opened by Lord Digby Jones, former Director General of the CBI and Trade and Investment Minister. With exhibitor space up by more than 20 per cent compared with preparations for the 2014 show this time last year, the organisers say that the event is quickly becoming the processing and packaging show that must be not be missed.
Grant Collier, head of marketing for the PPMA Group, says: "Having seen the event return to the sole ownership and management of the PPMA Group last year, we were absolutely delighted with how successful the show was. The event has always benefited from the community atmosphere associated with British manufacturing and provides an ideal meeting place for decision makers from across a range of industries to network with key manufacturers and distributions, all set against a back drop of innovation and industry expertise."
New Robotics and Industrial Vision zone
New features for the 2015 exhibition include a Robotics and Industrial Vision zone, which will showcase inventive and quirky uses of robotic technology including robots that can dance, pour drinks and even play snooker. Highlighting just how robotics and automation has come since the first industrial robotic arms were integrated into production lines, Rich Walker, Managing Director for the Shadow Robot company will discuss the 'Moley robotic kitchen' – capable of cooking chef-quality meals using a normal kitchen. Walker will speak as part of this year's seminar line-up to reveal what robotics could hold for the future of food manufacturing.
Walker explains: "Robots are smarter than ever, easier to configure and versatile. They will be able to cope with a wider range of tasks and will be easier to modify to undertake new tasks. The use of robotics could be cost-effective on short-run production lines that have as little as a six-month payback period, because a versatile robot allows a manufacturer to redeploy the robot to multiple successive production lines. Robots will no longer be seen as instruments for speciality tasks – easily adapted, robots will be universally used across the food industry. I am hoping to have some really profitable conversations with industry professionals and finding out how they feel robotics can benefit their business as well as identifying potential solutions to any problems they may have."
A leading figure in the FMCG and Grocery retailing sectors and former Sainsbury's CEO, Justin King CBE is set to headline this year's PPMA Show seminar theatre. Taking to the stage, Justin King will discuss the future for multiple retailers, how the growing market shares of discount retailers will affect the supply chain and how the continued emergence of supermarket convenience outlets is shaping the market. Also confirmed for the 2015 exhibition are: Keith Thornhill, Business Manager for Food & Beverage at Siemens, who will present the case for technology and data analytics for the digital factory of the future; Peter Evans, Compliance Engineer at the CE Marking Association, will help visitors understand the CE mark; and Rhys Herbert, Senior Economist at Lloyds Banking Group, will explore what is in store for the manufacturing sector including its ambitions, opportunities and challenges.
Also appearing at the show, Mike Crosby, Finance Director for Burts Potato Chips, will examine how sales targets and profitability have soared thanks to continued factory investment and new technology. Speaking about his appearance at the show, Mike Crosby comments: "At Burts Chips we strive to produce quality snacks for our customers that always deliver on taste and crunch. We recognise that continued investment in new technology and the factory is essential to continue the path of growth and enable us to innovate the competitive snacks sector."
The topic of the current manufacturing skills gap will be addressed in more detail at this year's seminar theatre following the launch of the PPMA BEST initiative, a new charitable trust aimed at recruiting more young people in the industry. The new division will highlight and promote the benefits of apprenticeships throughout the industry, highlighting how the skills shortage can be resolved through improved engagement between the industry and the UK's academia.
Addressing the ingredients for success and highlighting the opportunities for an engineering future in food and drink, Sam Kelly, Electrical Engineering Apprentice for PepsiCo, and Hannah Whall, Graduate Project Engineer for Nestle, will provide an up-to-date insight into the opportunity in engineering in the largest industry in the UK. Representing two of the routes open to young people, including apprenticeships and graduate schemes, Sam and Hannah will share their personal stories as their build a career in the UK's food and drink manufacturing industries.
Speaking about the industry, Sam Kelly says: "The FMCG environment is a diverse industry and there are a wide variety of exciting prospects. It is this variety across the industry that is attractive with businesses working in a number of different fields which means that everyday your skills are being tested in a new way. It is a challenging but also a rewarding industry, as young people and graduates can expect a good level of responsibility from the off and personally, it is this responsibility that has been a huge confidence builder for me. I have developed not only as an engineer but also as a person."
Highlighting the obstacles stopping young people from recognising these opportunities, Hannah Whall adds: "There is a lack of awareness of the manufacturing and packaging industries in schools currently and young people are either unaware or uninformed of the opportunities it presents. More should be done to let young people realise the opportunities available to them. Ensuring that young people have a full picture of the opportunities on offer is crucial and should start with teachers talking to pupils."
In an effort to further encourage young engineers into the sector, the PPMA Show will also welcome the return of the Ones to Watch Awards, which recognise the contributions of processing and packaging professionals under the age of 35. Sponsored by Festo, the awards are chosen by a select group of industry specialists from the PPMA Group Industry awards judging panel, with colleagues being urged to nominate outstanding candidates to the PPMA Show press office.
Innovations and future trends
Attendees to Hall 5 at the NEC in September can also find out more about the latest trends and innovations taking the industry by storm. Dan Rossek, Marketing Manager for Omron, says: "Since the PPMA show last year, the term Industry 4.0 has worked its way through the entire supply chain. We are anticipating that the increased demand for 'big data' integration between the factory shop floor and top floor will draw more food and pharmaceutical manufacturers to the show this year."
With the productivity puzzle still proving an issue for four-fifths of the UK's smaller manufacturers, visitors can visit stand E90 where Festo will be showcasing a number of its exciting new developments, concepts and systems for the food and beverage sector. Visitors to the stand will be able to discuss how they can increase productivity in different ways by considering efficiency, simplicity, security as well as accessing Festo's key competencies.
Robots, metal detection and inspection
Attendees can also visit stand C50 to see FANUC Robotics' new M-710iC/45m, a mid-sized, high-speed robot with a long reach that provides efficiency gains for shelf-ready case loading. Launching at PPMA 2015, this is one of four FANUC robots completing picking, collating, packaging and palletising tasks live at the NEC in September. Fortress Technology on stand B01 will also reveal a range of sustainable metal detectors for food manufacturers and packers which guarantees an exceptional return on investment (ROI).
Also exhibiting at the NEC, Peebles-based Evolution Bottling & Packaging will demonstrate Logics & Controls' LOGILOOK inspection machine that can fully inspect label quality using a single camera, regardless of the way the bottle is facing. The technology eliminates the common problem of merging multiple images as it is capable of capturing a clear view of the bottle in a single clear image. Other confirmed exhibitors include the likes of the RM Group with ABB Limited, Yorkshire Packaging, SMC Pneumatics, SICK UK and Stemmer Imaging.
Business advice and finance
Finally, the team at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking (stand F40) will once again have a dedicated stand at the show where its team of specialists will be offering advice ranging from day-to-day banking requirements to funding for expansion to exporting. Lloyds Bank return as headline sponsors highlights the company's confidence in UK manufacturing and, in particular, small to medium enterprises (SMEs). The team, made up of 13 dedicated sector teams, have the autonomy to make local lending decisions up to £1m on a case-by-case basis. They will once again have a dedicated stand at the show; the team will also be taking to the show floor to discuss banking opportunities with exhibitors and visits alike, following its 2014 commitment to provide lending facilities to the manufacturing sector of £1bn per annum every year until 2017.
Speaking about returning as sponsors of the PPMA Show, David Atkinson, Head of Manufacturing for Lloyds Bank SME Commercial Banking, says: "One of the common challenges for the manufacturing sector is the perception, and availability, of finance. We know that the manufacturing industry has a unique set of banking needs. Whether it is assisting with cash flow, financing growth to help firms enter new supply chains, improving efficiency, automating processes or helping to penetrate new markets, we have trained our dedicated managers through a Warwick University Accredited course at the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) to support manufacturing businesses.
"With the sheer volume of PPMA members serving the industry, we knew that this would be the event to profile our support for the sector and raise awareness for the finance and support available to the UK's manufacturing industries."
To preregister go to bit.ly/PPMA2015 or follow the link for more information about the PPMA Show 2015. You can also join the conversation on Twitter (@PPMAshow and #PPMAShow) or via the PPMA Show LinkedIn group.)