Familiar faces in new surroundings

Author : Phil Valentine, Managing Director of European Trade & Exhibition Services

06 December 2017

Southern Manufacturing & Electronics celebrates its 20th Anniversary in style, as it becomes the first major exhibition to take place in the newly-built Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre: a £35m state-of-the-art permanent venue on the site of the iconic airshow. This piece discusses how the show provides an ideal forum for design engineers, suppliers and specifiers from a wide spectrum of engineering enterprises.

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Hall 1 at Farnborough International is the largest exhibition venue to be built in the UK for two decades, and is a landmark development for both Farnborough International and the high-tech manufacturing enterprises concentrated across the south east – who now have a new 20,000m2 showcase venue on their doorstep. Farnborough is, of course, well known for its famous airshow, which generates billions in revenue for UK manufacturers annually.

Roughly a quarter of the UK’s 3,400 aerospace and defence companies are located in the south east, not to mention branches of the top ten US aerospace firms and the UK’s largest space exploration company. BAE Systems headquarters is situated in the adjacent Farnborough Aerospace Centre, along with Lockheed Martin and other market leaders.

Naturally, these companies do not exist in isolation: supporting them is a rich and diverse regional supply chain, offering a plethora of world-class manufacturing and engineering production services. For many of these firms, Southern Manufacturing & Electronics is their main annual showcase. The show’s importance to the UK’s manufacturing supply chain has been the driving force behind its success and exponential growth over the last 20 years.

As the show moves into its third decade, it has completely transformed from a regional event into a show of international significance, and one which now figures in the calendars of engineering professionals across Europe. Another hallmark of Southern Manufacturing & Electronics is the remarkable loyalty of many of its exhibitors.

A surprisingly high proportion of exhibitors have been with the show since its days at Thorpe Park, which is in itself a testament to the show’s importance to the industry. Just a few of the veteran firms returning for 2018 include: CT Production (an AS 9100 and ISO 9001/2015 approved manufacturer of electronic products, from PCBs to boxed units); Easby Electronics (a leading independent distributor of optoelectronics, interconnect, passive and electromechanical components); Gelec; NDE; and Wurth Electronics.

The range of products and services on show is comprehensive to say the least – from component vendors, PCB manufacturers and CEMs, through to designers and specialist EMC test services.

Connector specialist ODU will be showcasing its new Mini-Snap self-securing circular connection, available in a wide range of sizes and designs, and a choice of three basic keyings, and used in a multitude of applications. Whether for transferring power, signals, data or even media – this circular connector in a robust metal housing offers great long-term quality, reliability and functionality.

Other connector manufacturers and vendors exhibiting at the show include Lemo, Fischer Connectors and Torberry Connectors. Kemtron, one of the UK’s largest manufacturers of EMC materials, offers a complete range of EMC gaskets, EMC ventilation panels, shielded windows and conductive adhesives, which it will highlight at the show. Some of the many variations on show include gaskets for enclosure applications, from conductive fabric over foam, knitted mesh, or combination gaskets for harsh environments.

Among the products showcased by Cosel Europe this year is the PCA series, a compact 600W AC/DC power supply offering universal main input voltage of AC6 to 264V, with output voltages varying from 5.0 to 48V. The power supply is just 1U high and 152mm long, and is approved for use within medical applications.

It offers constant current, parallel/redundancy operation, alarm, low noise fan and remote on/off as standard. The output voltage can be adjusted close to 0V without the need for an external circuit.

CamdenBoss showcases a number of recently introduced products, including its CFTBN range of fuse holders, which has become one of the first to meet the latest fire safety standard EN 60127-6, which came into force in October 2017. The CamdenBoss CFTBN range of fused terminal blocks incorporates a 5 x 20mm fuse holder, with a 1- to 5-pole terminal strip, along with an integral spare fuse carrier. Designed for use in lighting and similar applications, the fused terminal blocks feature IP20 finger protection and anti-rotation spigot, with 4mm2 cable entry (2.5mm2 with wire protector).

The show is also an important marketplace for production hardware and test equipment. Among the new products on show this year, Pillarhouse International highlights its selective soldering systems – ranging from low cost, flexible, standalone, bench-top and entry-level systems through to advanced, high speed integrated inline production cells. At this year’s show, the company will be exhibiting the Jade MK IV, the hand-load selective soldering system.

New process features include increased board handing size, enhanced PillarCOMM interface, nozzle conditioning system and bottom-side instant IR heater. Since 1971, INGUN has been a leading innovator in the field of test equipment and sophisticated testing strategies. During the exhibition, it will be showing a selection of test probes and fixtures designed for the speedy and reliable testing of PCBs and other electronic assemblies. The firm offers over 20,000 possible probe variations. INGUN test fixtures provide both standardised and customised solutions for every test requirement. With a wide range of test fixture accessories, a large variety of individualised options are available.

Automated Cable Solutions will be showing no less than five new machines this year on its stand, including the new PP3+ stripper crimper. Other products on show will include hand tools, mini applicators, crimping presses, wire pull testers, cable pre-feeders, and machines for cutting cable and tubing, jacket stripping, coax stripping, wire stripping, magnet wire stripping and braid combing. Automated Cable Solutions is an agent for GEM Terminal IND, Mikropla, Hatko, and it offers a large range of bandolier terminals for side feed and rear feed terminals for mini applicators.

Subcontract services are the other key area of the show. Here, too, the selection is comprehensive and includes numerous top-name PCB production and assembly specialists, contract manufacturing and design services. Some well-known firms returning for 2018 include Eurocircuits, Merlin PCB, European Circuits, JJS Manufacturing, Bytesnap Design and York EMC. At time of writing, the list of participating companies is growing daily.

While many of the firms and faces at Southern Manufacturing & Electronics 2018 will be familiar, the setting will be a completely new experience. The temporary structure that has housed the event since 2008 has been replaced by a brand new permanent venue, giving the show a completely new look and feel. Designed by award-winning architects, Terence O’Rourke, Hall 1 offers world-class facilities, easy access and panoramic runway level views.

Show Director Phil Valentine commented: “Southern Manufacturing & Electronics’ new home will completely transform the exhibition experience for visitors and exhibitors alike. The new building is a superb modern facility offering high-speed Wi-Fi throughout, drive-in access for exhibitors and 3,500 free onsite car parking spaces. We are absolutely delighted to be the first tenants of this landmark development, and excited at the possibilities it offers us for further development.”

Southern Manufacturing & Electronics 2018 opens from February 6th to 8th and admission to the show is free for delegates to attend. More information and tickets are available at www.industrysouth.co.uk.

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