The Drives & Controls Show and the cluster of allied events held at the Birmingham NEC last month, set an all-time attendance record. Over three days, the shows attracted 11,146 visitors – an increase of 29% over the previous event in 2010, and substantially higher than the previous record attendance of 9,568 visitors, achieved in 2008.
"The outstanding attendance figure shows a continued commitment by industry to support these important biennial events,” says Ian Atkinson, managing director of the event organiser (and Drives & Controls’ publisher), DFA Media. “Such an increase is a powerful message to Government of the level of importance manufacturing represents to the UK economy. It is also a fantastic vote of confidence to everyone in industry that manufacturing is well and truly alive and kicking.”
“The general consensus was that the visitors were from a diverse range of industries with genuine projects and applications,” adds exhibition sales director, Doug Devlin. “Our seminar programmes in the main were well received and we will be looking closely at how to take them to the next level. It was clear from the three days that manufacturing and engineering are holding up well in the current climate and there are genuine business opportunities across the industrial landscape.”
Most exhibitors appear to be pleased with the show and many have already booked stands for the next show in 2014. For example, Beckhoff UK, which had one of the largest stands at this year’s show (above), is planning to add an extra 50% of space for the 2014 event.
“It was a really good show for us,” says Beckhoff UK’s managing director, Stephen Hayes. “We were consistently busy and we’ve had a lot of quality leads from people with real projects. We’re committed to an even bigger stand in 2014.”
His enthusiasm is shared Carl Krajewski, managing director of Siemens’ UK motion and controls partner, HMK: “I didn’t think it could get any better than last time, but we’ve doubled the number of enquiries. We’re guaranteed to be back in two years’ time.”
Another exhibitor that had a good show was WEG Electric Motors. Marek Lukaszczyk, WEG’s European marketing manager, says the exhibition was “brilliant” for the company, with high-quality interest from visitors. “We’ve seen customers we’ve been trying to get into for years.”
Many exhibitors commented on the intensive marketing campaign for the show, which made it unlikely that potential visitors would be unaware of the event. “The marketing and promotion of the show were excellent, which resulted in us having quality leads throughout the three days,” says John Attenborough, general manager of Marelli UK. “We have already booked for 2014”
Another talking point was the programme of seminars and discussion panels, some of which were standing room only. “I enjoyed participating in the panel discussions which were very well attended,” says David Collier, business development manager at Pilz UK. He reports that Pilz’s stand attracted “an interesting mix of OEMs, systems integrators and end users,” generating “some hot leads that we’re seeking to satisfy. We’ll be back in two years time if business continues as it is.”
Another satisfied exhibitor is Simon Goodwin, general manager of B&R Industrial Automation in the UK. “It’s been very worthwhile and we’ve some people we would not meet elsewhere,” he says.
And Steven Hill, general manager of steute UK reports that the show was “a great success” for his company. “The exhibition seemed to reach out to more engineers than at previous shows.”
The co-location of the Drives show with the other exhibitions running simultaneously at the NEC proved a boon for many exhibitors, especially as there was a direct link to Mach manufacturing technology show for the first time. Mach too had a bumper show, attracting around 21,600 visitors, compared to 18,700 for the 2010 event.
First-time exhibitor HMS Industrial Networks made some useful contacts with generator manufacturers in the neighbouring IPEE exhibition. Newly appointed general manager David Folley says he was “very happy” with the Drives show, adding that “the co-location with the generator show worked well”.
The biennial events – Drives and Controls, Plant & Asset Management, Air-Tech and the Ifpex fluid power show – will return to the NEC from 8–10 April, 2014.