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Drives & Controls joins Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week

19 February 2024

Drives & Controls, alongside Fluid Power & Systems and Air-Tech, will be taking place at the NEC on June 5th and 6th as part of Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week for the first time

EACH ELEMENT of Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2024 (SMEW) will address the key issues that concern manufacturing and engineering businesses currently, irrespective of the market sector they serve. The main topics the wide-ranging events touch upon are innovation, the supply chain, sustainability, digital transformation and people and skills.

Of key importance is the introduction in Hall 5 of Drives & Controls. Being presented as part of SMEW for the first time this event obviously holds great interest for CDA readers as traditionally it has been their key event. As previously, Drives & Controls will bring together key suppliers of state-of-the-art equipment covering critical areas such as energy efficiency, machine safety, drives, motors, motion control, robotics and automation but its integration into SMEW now gives visitors so much more.

Strategic partners

This year GAMBICA has given its endorsement to the event; Nikesh Mistry, sector head of Industrial Automation said: “GAMBICA is proud to be a strategic partner of Smart Manufacturing and Engineering Week as it is an opportunity to represent our sector and showcase the marvels of our industry. Last year, it was great to see exhibition floors packed with people once again, and so many member companies were able to demonstrate how automation has become an essential part of manufacturing in the UK.”

Commenting more specifically on Drives & Controls he went on to say: “Drives & Controls allows manufacturers to display how automation can not only help to maximise efficiency, but simultaneously improve sustainability and streamline processes.”

Education is a major part of SMEW and this is presented as a mix of free to attend seminars and ticketed summits. There are three summits taking place namely the Manufacturing and Digitalisation Summit, the Industrial Data and AI Summit and the Manufacturing Automation & Robotics Summit which will see operations, automation and control and manufacturing professionals coming together to discuss the latest opportunities to find actionable solutions to industry challenges.

Beyond buzzwords

Commenting on the summit Grace Gilling, manufacturing portfolio director of Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2024 said: “Automation and robotics are not just buzzwords; it’s a fundamental revolution that is reshaping how goods are produced, processed, and delivered to the market. While the promises of increased efficiency, reduced costs, and improved quality are enticing, the road to embracing these technologies is not without its hurdles. This summit is dedicated to exploring the rapidly evolving landscape of automation and robotics and more importantly, addressing the challenges of this transformative era.”

Topics to be covered at the summit include Integration Complexity, Developing a Skilled Workforce, Cost and ROI Concerns and Regulatory and Safety Compliance.

Located alongside Drives & Controls in Hall 5 are the Air-Tech and Fluid Power & Systems exhibitions. Underlining the significance of the event The British Fluid Power Association (BFPA) has become a Strategic Partner and Chris Butcher, managing director, said of the partnership: “The fluid power industry has gone through a significant technology transition with the integration of electronics, robotics, mechatronics, and the high level of automation and control across many market sectors. We think there’s a great synergy between the different areas of the event to provide our members, and the visitors that come to see them, with a showcase that covers all aspects of their technical challenges, and the new innovations that are driving system efficiency, automation, sustainability and power density.” 

The BFPA will have a stand at Fluid Power & Systems and representatives will be available to meet with both members and prospective members to discuss their education and training courses as well as giving presentations at the main theatres on key topics.

Added value

The true added value to CDA readers and visitors to Drives & Controls is the number of events that are taking place at the same time at the NEC as part of SMEW 2024. Of particular interest is Smart Factory Expo which describes itself as ‘A curated shop window for manufacturers at all stages of their digital journey.’ This expo, designed to allow manufacturers to be the most efficient, the most sustainable, and the most profitable in the world, provides an exciting space to explore digital transformation solutions with the potential to provide a competitive advantage to those who take them on.

As part of Smart Factory Expo, the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM), University of Cambridge will be staging masterclasses. These masterclasses are designed to challenge and extend thinking in relation to some of the most pressing challenges and opportunities that organisations face and are completely free to attend. As places are limited those interested should ensure early registration to receive priority booking access.

Alongside Smart Factory Expo in Hall 4 are Maintec, the longest standing exhibition for the predictive maintenance, reliability and asset management sector; and the Design & Engineering Expo, which places a spotlight on innovation, empowering design and engineering professionals to minimize costs and enhance the efficiency of their future strategies. Aside from the exhibitions themselves there is a multitude of events taking place on the ‘fringe’ that range from the serious to the fun and light-hearted! On the fun side The Guitar Legends competition, where any visitor can show off their guitar skills and win a 3D printed guitar, will take place once again as will the Day 1 after show party with The Shadow Monkeys providing live music. 

In addition, the Oscars of the manufacturing sector, The Manufacturer Top 100, will be held on the evening of 5th June. It publicly recognises the heroes of UK manufacturing, those who stand out for their contribution to changing the face of the industry. Plus, The Manufacturer Directors’ Forum will take place; a 10+ year-old professional network of senior manufacturers drawn from across the industrial spectrum who attend targeted events and roundtable discussions.

Also, located across the expos in both Hall 4 and 5, is The Best of British showcase which will celebrate domestic manufacturing, featuring world-beating new designs, innovative modes of manufacture, products that redefine categories, and export successes that plant the flag in overseas markets.

Taking place at the NEC at the same time are other relevant events including TCT 3Sixty from Rapid News Group and Subcon from the Mark Allen Group.  
A single visitor registration to Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week 2024 provides entry to all the events.    

For more information or to register for a free pass visit:


Key Points

  • Now part of Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week, Drives & Controls will bring together key suppliers of state-of-the-art equipment
  • Three summits will take place: Manufacturing and Digitalisation; Industrial Data and AI Summit; and Manufacturing Automation & Robotics
  • Smart Factory Expo provides an exciting space to explore digital transformation solutions with the potential to provide competitive advantage