The UK’s leading manufacturing industry publication, The Manufacturer, brought its dynamic series of events to the Liverpool City Region for the first time in November 2017, leaving its Birmingham roots for the North West.
Thousands of visitors converged on the city region for Digital Manufacturing Week ― a series of interlocking events made up of The Manufacturer’s Annual Leaders Conference, Smart Factory Expo, The Manufacturer Top 100 and The Manufacturer MX Awards.
Smart Factory Expo, the UK’s biggest showcase for advanced technology and systems, took place at the Exhibition Centre Liverpool, with views of the iconic waterfront, on Wednesday 15th – Thursday 16th November.
Simon Reid, Sector Manager of Advanced Manufacturing from the Liverpool City Region LEP reflected on the visit from the Manufacturer Live to Liverpool for the first time: “As a City Region we are delighted to host this important conference and showcase the lead the City Region has taken with LCR 4.0 – the UKs first business support programme to support SME manufacturers to adopt the 4th Industrial Revolution.”
The event gave SMEs in the Liverpool City Region the opportunity to meet more than 100 exhibitors, 90 presenters and over 4,000 visitors, made up of high-growth manufacturers, key manufacturing OEMs, industrial accelerators, hardware start-ups, finance and 4th Industrial Revolution solution providers from across the UK.
Local innovators and entrepreneurs taking part in the event included Acorn2Oak, CNC Robotics, Ultamation, United Automation, Wave Reach, Brainboxes and Valuechain.
Ultamation, a local SME specialising in home automation solutions were thrilled with the success of the Manufacturer Live which surpassed even their high expectations.
Oliver Hall, Managing Director at Ultimation said: “As a small company it would have been a large financial commitment to have a stand at the Expo, so Innovation Alley gave us the opportunity to reach potential customers and get feedback on our product whilst it was still in the early stages. We were genuinely blown away with the response we received; we walked away with over 30 leads, seven of which could go on to really change our business.”
Invest Liverpool collaborated with the LCR 4.0 project team to develop a joint presence at the event which was designed to showcase the very best manufacturing expertise and technologies on offer in the Liverpool City Region.
Thousands of delegates visited the stand where they were able to take part in the latest virtual reality demonstrations, inspect drones, talk to interactive robots and hear exclusive presentations from leading experts.
Dr Andy Levers from the Virtual Engineering Centre, University of Liverpool said: “LCR 4.0 was proud to be such a great part of The Manufacturer Live and to have the opportunity to showcase some of the excellent work which has come from this regional project so far.
“LCR 4.0 is already gaining national recognition as an exemplar of best practice. Events such as this can help us to take this message further by providing us with an ideal platform from which we can shine a light on the innovative SMEs and world-class knowledge assets that we have here.”
LCR 4.0 also put diversity in manufacturing on the agenda with a fringe event, hosted by Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), which highlighted the key challenges and barriers that women working in STEM face everyday.
Speakers included a head teacher from an all-girls school, a young LJMU student who has firmly found her feet within engineering and the Energy Fairies, a female-founded business that aims to create more efficient ways of capturing and recycling energy.
Nick Hussey, Publisher of The Manufacturer Magazine, said: “Digital Manufacturing Week’s move to Liverpool was very much a case of ‘right place, right time’. Sandwiched between the launch of the Made Smarter industrial digitalisation review, and the Government’s new Industrial Strategy.
“We saw a doubling in size for both our flagship Leaders Conference and the Smart Factory Expo. With over 4500 attendees across our events, we’re delighted to have created Europe’s biggest digital manufacturing show – something that would not have been possible without the active support of manufacturers in the region, our incredible local partners at Liverpool City Region LEP, Invest Liverpool and our sponsors and exhibitors.”