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Southern Manufacturing & Electronics turns 20!

01 December 2017

Southern Manufacturing & Electronics returns to Farnborough from February 6-8 2018 for its 20th anniversary event.

Two decades is a rarity for any exhibition and certainly an event worthy of celebration. But 2018 marks an even more important milestone for the show, and one which heralds a new era of development for one of the UK’s best-supported and most popular engineering shows.

From 2018 the show will move into its new permanent home, currently taking shape on the familiar Farnborough site. The £35m Farnborough International Exhibition and Conference Centre development is the largest exhibition venue to be built in the UK for 20 years. The 20,000m² Hall 1 complex, designed by award-winning architects Terence O’Rourke, offers world-class facilities, easy access and panoramic runway level views. Given its prime location in the centre of one of the most important manufacturing & engineering regions in the country, Farnborough International is on course to become a national shop front for UK engineering, not least, of course, at the Farnborough Airshow – a singularly important event for the UK’s £20bn aerospace business, which is second only to the USA in size. 

Aerospace is not the only engineering-led business to have a strong foothold in the south east. 37 percent of the UK’s Medical Technology workforce are employed in the region; 32 percent of the UK’s Leisure & Small Commercial Marine Engineering sector are within 1 hour of the show. In addition more than £5bn annually is spent on R&D in the South - more than 20 percent of the total UK spend - making it the largest single region for research and development in the UK. Combine all of this with the region's strengths in Automotive, Motor Sport, Rail, Aviation, Energy, Electronics and Mechanical Engineering and you can begin to understand the importance of Southern Manufacturing & Electronics to the engineering community in the south east and far beyond.

Just as the Farnborough Airshow acts as a global interface for international business, increasingly so too does Southern Manufacturing. Since moving to its current home in Farnborough and changing to a three-day event, Southern has seen a steady increase in both overseas visitors and participants. One of the great appeals of the event is that it gives visitors a chance to meet companies that they would not usually meet without travelling to continental Europe, or indeed, much further afield. 

Many overseas exhibitors are now regular features of the show. Connector specialist Yamaichi Electronics Deutschland returns with the latest addition to its Y-Circ P push-pull connectors, the IP68-compliant waterproof T-series. To be seen for the first time at Southern Electronics, the new waterproof T-series is based on the technology of the Y-Circ P product family, which can be connected to its existing circular push-pull connectors. Compatriot Cosel Europe will show its 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. Swiss firm Ceramet specialises in the production of high quality parts made in advanced ceramics. The company provides parts specially designed for medical applications such as insulators for endoscopes and electro surgery and blades. It also manufactures pistons, check-valves piston-cylinder assemblies for fluid control and high pressure systems. 

However, intriguing though these rare visitors to our shores are, it is our home-grown engineering talent that continues to command the lion’s share of floor space and visitor interest at Southern Manufacturing. The exhibitor list is already in the hundreds and continuing to grow daily, with its customary blend of new and familiar faces. It is interesting to note that many of the show’s expected 800-odd exhibitors have been with the event since its earliest days.  This nicely-balanced blend of continuity and novelty is one of the things that gives Southern its unique atmosphere. 

The Machinery Zone at Southern Manufacturing is one of the highlights of the show for many. The big machinery vendors will return in force for 2018, with Yamazaki Mazak, Bystronic, Matsuura, Unison, Hurco, C. Dugard and XYZ Machine Tools and others running the perennially popular live demonstrations of their latest machine tool offerings. For manufacturers and vendors too, the event is crucially important, yielding a significant amount of business every year. Complementing the machinery exhibits is an excellent selection of tooling, workholding and related hardware from leading suppliers such as Wilson Tool International, AMF Andreas Maier, Vigilance Group and YMT Technologies.

Advanced manufacturing is also an important aspect of the event, in particular newer technologies, such as additive manufacturing and new materials such as plastics and composites. Some well-known names to look out for include Renishaw, Laser Lines, CREAT3D and TriTech 3D. Industrial Plastic Fabrications returns to showcase its portfolio of advanced 3D printing and plastics manufacturing services, including the revolutionary Agilius30 3D print polymer, which can be used to create 3D printed parts with rubber-like qualities of flexibility and durability. A new exhibitor for 2018 is Liberty Speciality Steels, a supplier of high-integrity alloys to major commercial and military aerospace programmes worldwide, including Airbus, Boeing and Bell helicopters, and high purity VIM and VAR steel grades to motorsport sector.

Tools, machines and materials are of course only one aspect of the engineering sector; skills and specialist services are just as important and here too Southern Manufacturing & Electronics provides a thriving marketplace for a broad spectrum of activities. Electronics manufacture is well represented, with a huge variety of firms offering everything from PCB production to full contract manufacturing services. As the re-shoring movement continues to gain ground, there has been a subtle shift towards more UK and European-based electronics production, which is well reflected among exhibitors such as JJS Manufacturing, Phase One Electronics, CT Production, Soumac Assembly, Corintech and many more. Eurocircuits will launch its new 5-day prototype and small series electronics assembly service. Eurocircuits’ unique online PCBA visualiser tool provides immediate DFM feedback and online pricing for its PCB, components and assembly service.

Precision engineering and fabrication is a similarly bountiful aspect of the show. Well-known names present this year include Jenks & Cattell, Fife Fabrications, Smith & Jewell, Barlow Sheet Metal and MJ Allen. Not surprisingly given the location of the show, many exhibitors such as Portsmouth Aviation have specialist experience within the aerospace supply chain. The show’s Technology Trails aim to link together firms with particular expertise in areas such as medical technology or aerospace, to make it easier to locate suppliers with particular skill sets. Categorised details of all exhibitors are available online at Visitors who register for free tickets before January 2018 will also receive a free 12 page preview magazine to help plan their visit.

Southern Manufacturing & Electronics 2018 opens from February 6-8. Admission to the show is free. More information and tickets are available from Farnborough Exhibition and Conference Centre offers free on-site car parking and is easily reached by road, air or public transport. More information can be found at

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