Smart move: Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2023

Posted on 3 Apr 2023 by The Manufacturer

Produced by The Manufacturer, and having run successfully in Liverpool for many years, Smart Factory Expo will now form a key part of Manufacturing and Engineering Week 2023. In this article, we take a first look at what visitors to the 2023 event can expect to see at the festival of industrial innovation.

Readers of The Manufacturer may have missed the news that in 2023 Smart Factory Expo will join with Design & Engineering Expo, Maintec and the Drives & Controls zone (which includes Air-Tech and Fluid Power and Systems) to form the centrepiece of Manufacturing & Engineering Week.

The week itself runs from 5-9 June while the live events take place at the NEC, Birmingham on the 7-8. Other related exhibitions are also taking place at the NEC during the week. These include Automechanika run by Messe Frankfurt plus Med-Tech Innovation Expo and TCT 3Sixty from Rapid News Group.

In addition, the centrepiece exhibitions will be colocated with The Manufacturer’s Summits, Directors’ Forus roundtables, and Top 100 ceremony, and surrounded by a number of related activities such as digital days, factory visits and student tours.

A hive of innovation

Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2023 is living up to its promise of becoming ‘the festival of industrial innovation’. Haf Cennydd, Portfolio Director for M&E Week, commented: “We see M&E Week as being a festival and a celebration of the industrial sector. We are bringing the world’s most established brands and start-ups together under one roof and presenting them on different stages and in different ways – just as Glastonbury does with its established headline acts and its new breaking act areas. We will also be showcasing creativity and presenting some things which will have our visitors saying, ‘well, I didn’t expect to see that!’”

Those familiar with Smart Factory Expo will be pleased to hear that, apart from its more conveniently accessed location, it fundamentally remains the same event with the same focus on the sector’s biggest challenges: sustainability, digital transformation, innovation, supply chain resilience and people and skills.

As Henry Anson from Hennik Research, the publisher of The Manufacturer said: “Driven by expert content, peer-to-peer interaction and the best solutions available, every aspect of the week celebrates excellence; engaging speakers, industry-shaping influencers, delegates from the best manufacturers and the brightest emerging talent. We bring them together to help businesses at all stages of their digital transformation, arming them with real insights from the industry we’ve been at the heart of for over 30 years.”

Manufacturing & Engineering Week comprises seven Solutions Theatres each focused on different stages of the value chain. Each theatre offers a comprehensive schedule of free-to-attend presentations delivered by manufacturing and technology experts. Solution Theatre topics include: Automation & Robotics, Digital Transformation, IIoT & Connectivity, Industrial Data & AI, Innovation, Maintenance and Design Engineering.

What else is on?

There are several other major events taking place alongside Smart Factory Expo as part of Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2023, including the Sustainable Digitalisation Summit – an executive level conference for businesses with a turnover in excess of £100m. This is a two-day knowledge sharing event that informs manufacturers on how to develop their business models in a practical manner.

he event brings together leading professionals to share their experience on making the most of the challenges they face and the opportunities that exist to ensure the future growth of manufacturing. Attendees will learn how to drive innovation, which technologies to deploy and where to head next.

Sustainable Digitalisation Summit involves a variety of keynotes, panel discussions and topic-specific discussion tables, designed to provide the best value and opportunity for learning. Each discussion table is dedicated to a specific area. Delegates can choose the ones that are most relevant, enabling them to sit next to their peers and topic experts to share challenges, collaboratively develop solutions and have questions answered first-hand.

Similar, but for businesses with a turnover below £100m, is the SME Growth Summit. The event provides a unique opportunity for delegates to get the information they need from leading experts in digital manufacturing, through presentations and panel discussions.

With the same format as Sustainable Digitalisation Summit, delegates are also able to sit down with their peers at interactive roundtable discussions to talk and identify the most effective avenues for growth and learn how to act on them. The summit is designed for the leadership teams of UK SME manufacturers looking to increase market share, break into new markets and thrive in today’s business landscape.

A notable activity, moving from its Liverpool home to take place as part of M&E Week, is The Manufacturer Top 100 ceremony which in 2023 celebrates ten years of highlighting the work of inspirational industry leaders. The Manufacturer Top 100 began in 2014 as an awareness campaign to help address the lack of visible role models in the manufacturing industry.

It aims to provide a platform for the most inspiring individuals in the industry, to illustrate the enthusiasm and commitment present in modern manufacturing and to underscore the exciting, well-paid, and rewarding careers that exist in the sector. Commenting on the Top 100, Grace Gilling, Managing Director of Hennik Research said: “The 100 recipients are among the very best UK manufacturing has to offer, and we want to continue to showcase the people who make a truly exceptional contribution to the sector every day. They are the driving force behind the country’s manufacturing renaissance, and to understand their individual journeys is to understand why it is truly inspiring to be manufacturing in Britain today.”

On the fringe

These headline activities will run alongside a number of fringe events, all taking place as part of Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2023. For example, special editions of The Manufacturer Directors’ Forum will take place to capitalise on the fact that so many manufacturers are going to be in Birmingham during the course of one week.

The Manufacturer Directors’ Forum has been running for over ten years and is a professional network of senior manufacturers drawn from across the industrial spectrum. Its 1,800+ members are a highly engaged community and meet at invite-only events throughout the year – in a variety of dinner, breakfast, drink and virtual formats – to discuss the key issues facing the sector and the emerging opportunities for their businesses.

These events are co-hosted by The Manufacturer and a strategic partner, and are formatted as candid discussions around the realities of running manufacturing businesses in today’s climate with informed insights from industry experts. The roundtable format provides a great opportunity for peer-to-peer networking and insight into current business issues, while sharing ideas, views and experiences – plus at the same time creating valuable personal connections.

Other confirmed fringe events include The Marketing to Manufacturers Night Summit – the Exhibitor Drinks Party. Additional activities continue to be announced as they are finalised and are expected to include a Manufacturers of the Future STEM programme and much more. It is encouraged to sign up for email notifications or to follow the event on social media because more details about these components will be revealed in the coming weeks. Visit here for more details.

An end-to-end event

The major differentiator of M&E Week 2023 (and why Smart Factory Expo sits so well within it) is that it brings together all aspects of manufacturing and engineering – from design through to the delivery and creation of products. Due to this wide focus, it’s suitable for a business to bring their whole team from operations, safety and maintenance to design and much more.

This connectivity encourages cross functional teams to attend together, despite the fact that they are responsible for different parts of the projects they work on. Multiple divisions, be that from a small or large business, can get value from attending because there are elements of the week that are specifically created for them. Rather than focusing on a specific vertical sector, all of the content, programming and associated activities are focused on job function.

Alongside Smart Factory Expo there are three other events that constitute the centrepiece of M&E Week, the first being Design & Engineering Expo. This event brings together the latest technology innovations and educational thought leaders so that engineers of all disciplines can, in detail, discuss and learn about problem solving with their peers. Whether it’s the latest CAD/ CAM advances from established technology leaders or bleeding edge R&D prototypes from a start-up, the event will showcase them all – allowing visitors to discuss their technical challenges and find new solutions.

However, it’s not just technical problems that are addressed at the event as the big issues of the day such as supply chain challenges, sustainability concerns and skills shortages will all feature heavily in the expert, case study led conference programme. It is estimated that a visit will condense six months’ research for design engineers and procurement professionals into two days. The event also has business advisors and consultants to help engineers build their business cases for when they need support at board level.

The second event, after recent acquisition, is Drives & Controls, Air-Tech and Fluid Power and Systems. These will feature in a new dedicated zone in 2023 before returning as stand-alone events in Hall 5 next year. Drives & Controls is considered by many to be the ‘home of automation’ and with its sister events, Air-Tech and Fluid Power & Systems, it will showcase the latest motor, drive, automation, power generation and transmission technology along with compressed air and motion control.

The final event, that completes the linear journey from design to creation and delivery to support is Maintec, which takes place on 7-8 June. The event will inspire and celebrate people, technology and tools used in the continual pursuit of uptime.

Reflecting the fact that the Industry 4.0 and IoT revolution have changed the working life of maintenance professionals beyond recognition, the event will showcase both the latest predictive maintenance, condition monitoring and CMMS technology as well as the bedrocks of maintenance, repair and operations such as bearings and lubrication.

Alongside the inspiring technology, a new conference programme will address the big issues currently impacting such areas as purchasing, spares management, skills shortages and the supply chain. The event will also focus on the physical and mental wellbeing of maintenance professionals and bring into the light the unique challenges that this most under-valued of engineering disciplines faces.

For those familiar with Smart Factory Expo there is a sense that things are getting bigger and better. Haf concluded: “The scale of our ambition for Manufacturing & Engineering Week is that it will produce a momentum and a focus on the industrial sector that will benefit all that live and work within it.

“By bringing a large number of like-minded people, businesses and trade bodies together, we want to influence real change in how businesses tackle challenging areas which includes but are not limited to sustainability, innovation, skills, digital transformation and the supply chain. Plus, we want people to enjoy the ‘festival’ experience and perhaps even let their hair down a bit.”


  • Live events at M&E Week will take place on 7-8 June
  • Relocating to Birmingham will be Smart Factory Expo and The Manufacturer Top 100
  • Also taking place at M&E Week on 7 June will be Sustainable Digitalisation and SME Growth Summits, and The Manufacturer Directors’ Forum breakfasts and dinners
  • A visit to M&E Week will condense six months’ research into two days

More information can be found at Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2023.