Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2024: Reshaping the future of UK industry

Posted on 13 May 2024 by The Manufacturer

Returning to the NEC Birmingham this June, Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week (SM&E Week) 2024 promises to be a pivotal gathering for UK manufacturing because of its focus on key industry themes including the supply chain, sustainability, digital transformation and people and skills.

The showcase of the groundbreaking ThrustWSH project, a robust STEM program designed to inspire the next generation, a comprehensive lineup of educational theatres, and the debut of the Automation & Robotics Accelerator Symposium are just a few of the highlights. These new additions reflect SM&E Weeks’s commitment to providing attendees with insight into the future of manufacturing, fostering innovation, and driving the industry forward in dynamic new ways.

ThrustWSH: Spearheading British Engineering Excellence

The ThrustWSH project is set to be a centre piece at Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week, bringing a high-octane blend of engineering adventure and educational ambition. Led by the visionary Richard Noble OBE, the project continues the legacy of boundary-pushing speed records such as the Thrust2 and ThrustSSC, and now aims to shatter the world water speed record.

ThrustWSH is not just about breaking records; it is tied to promoting education in STEM fields. The project was inspired by the success of the educational programs linked to previous record attempts, which significantly boosted student interest in STEM subjects. The initiative has engaged over 2 million students to date, utilising an Open Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) policy that allows educational institutions to access and use real-time project data for learning purposes.

This year, the project’s showcase at SM&E Week will provide attendees with an exclusive look at the cutting-edge technology and engineering behind attempting to set a new world record in a high-risk environment. The vehicle, designed for speed and stability, incorporates revolutionary hydrofoil designs and super-cavitation technology, demonstrating advanced principles of aerodynamics and hydrodynamics.

The ThrustWSH project serves a dual purpose: pushing the envelope in engineering and inspiring the next generation of engineers and scientists. By linking these ambitious technical challenges with STEM education, the project underlines the critical role of innovative engineering projects in educational advancement and industry progression, making it a must-see feature.

Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2024: Reshaping the future of UK industry

Igniting Curiosity: The Immersive STEM Program

At the heart of Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2024 lies a dedicated STEM program, crafted to ignite curiosity and inspire the next generation. Through interactive workshops, hands-on demonstrations, and captivating presentations, students and apprentices will embark on a journey into careers in manufacturing and engineering.

Led by industry professionals and educators, the STEM program promises an exploration of the latest technologies shaping the future. Participants will witness advancements in artificial intelligence, automation, and other technologies, gaining insights into the possibilities that lie ahead.

A highlight is the IMechE Automation Challenge, where the winning team from the Apprentice Automation Challenge will showcase their groundbreaking project. This collaboration with The Manufacturer underscores the exceptional talent emerging in automation, inspiring attendees to push boundaries.

The FANUC WorldSkills Qualifiers, hosted with WorldSkills UK and FANUC, will provide aspiring engineers with an opportunity to pursue their passion for industrial robotics. This hands-on experience fosters practical skills and raises the bar for apprenticeships and technical education.

The Enginuity Skills Awards, organised by Enginuity, the charity supporting UK engineering and manufacturing employers, is another key highlight on June 5th. These awards recognise apprentices, pioneers of skills development, and innovative engineers tackling society’s challenges. The 10th anniversary celebrates the UK’s finest talent and commends organisations dedicated to advancing skills development, ensuring a bright future for the UK manufacturing sector.

Complementing these experiences, Engineering UK, SM&E Week’s People & Skills partner, will share insights on nurturing and inspiring the future workforce. Attendees can engage with experts, gaining a deeper understanding of the role played by organisations like Engineering UK in shaping the industry’s future.

IfM Masterclasses: Expert Insights and Hands-On Learning

New for 2024, the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) Masterclass series brings the expertise and research of the University of Cambridge’s IfM directly to SM&E Week attendees. These interactive sessions, led by IfM Industrial Practitioners, provide an opportunity to explore key manufacturing challenges in a collaborative environment.

The masterclasses cover critical topics such as sustainability improvement, automation planning, and creating alignment between technology investments and business strategy. Participants will gain valuable insights and practical approaches grounded in the IfM’s world-leading research and extensive industrial experience.

Each masterclass is designed to be hands-on and engaging, allowing attendees to work through real-world challenges with their peers and IfM experts. The small-group format ensures a personalised learning experience, with ample opportunity for questions and discussion.

While free to attend for SM&E Week participants, the IfM Masterclasses have limited capacity and require pre-registration. This exclusive opportunity is open to professionals from manufacturing and technology organisations, reflecting the IfM’s mission to support and advance the manufacturing community.

Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2024: Reshaping the future of UK industry

Enhancing Knowledge: The Educational Theatres

Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2024 has a comprehensive educational program spanning eight solution theatres, offering attendees a diverse array of insights and perspectives across nearly 150 free-to-attend sessions. These theatres delve into vital industry topics, from digital transformation, AI and industrial data to innovation, maintenance, and beyond.

In the Digital Transformation Theatre, thought leaders like Neelofar Ansari, Senior Manufacturing Engineer at BAE Systems, will explore the intriguing concept of “Human Augmentation: Connecting with Manufacturing Environments.” Meanwhile, Roy Haworth, Head of Digital Mock Up Process and Implementation at Airbus Defence & Space, will discuss “Using CAD data to drive data fusion and 3D visualisation.”

The Industrial Data & AI Theatre promises some compelling discussion, including Claire Bailey, Head of Data and Analytics at Saffran Seats, presentation on “Data-Driven Culture: The Smart Way to Digital Success,” and Mircea Oprisan’s, Senior Director Data & Analytics Delivery at Mars, case study on “Value Unlocks Leveraging Decision Intelligence in Supply Chain.

Embracing the digital era is the focus of the IIOT and Connectivity Theatre, where Kallum Welch, Head of Manufacturing Engineering IS&S at Airbus, will present “Embracing Evolution: Navigating Cultural Change in the Digital Era,” and Ankush Malhotra from Fluke Reliability who will discuss “Revolutionising Maintenance: Harnessing AI for Predictive Maintenance and Enhanced Efficiency.”

Meanwhile, the Drives & Technology Theatre will offer insights from David Santos, Head of Manufacturing Engineering & Automation at Chelton, on “SMEs and Automation: Overcoming complexity and challenges during and after implementation,” and Krishna Mistry, VP of Series Engineering at Verge Motorcycles, discussing “Agile Engineering Cycles: Optimising Design, Development, and Deployment in Manufacturing.”

The Made Smarter Innovation Showcase

A highlight of Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2024 is the Made Smarter Innovation Showcase, featuring over 40 cutting-edge businesses grouped around the core themes of net zero, people, productivity, and resilience. This showcase demonstrates how Innovate UK and its partners are transforming UK manufacturing through sustainable, productive, and globally competitive solutions.

From Photocentric’s energy-efficient additive manufacturing to Machine Intelligence’s AI-driven digital X-ray inspection for aerospace, the showcase spans diverse sectors. Other innovations include DevTank’s IoT-based energy monitoring devices, SupplyVue’s AI-optimised supply chain solution, smart collaborative robotics from the Smart Cobotics Research Center, and the Digital Medicines Manufacturing Research Centre’s transformative approach to pharmaceutical development and supply.

The Made Smarter Innovation Challenge, launched in 2020 as part of the government’s Industrial Strategy Fund (ISCF), has invested over £120m into these groundbreaking projects, driving the UK’s manufacturing sector into a sustainable and prosperous future.

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