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Routeco LIVE made a successful return!

01 June 2018

Routeco LIVE made a successful comeback with three one-day events that took place across the country. Read the highlights and catch up on what you might have missed as the DPA & Connectivity Editor takes you through the event!

The events kicked off on Tuesday 17 April at the Village Hotel in Leeds; and the second event at Stadium MK, home of Milton Keynes Football Club on Thursday 19 April. The final Routeco LIVE event was held in Glasgow on Thursday 3 May at Hampden Park, Scotland’s national football stadium. 

Routeco LIVE brought together some of the biggest names in the industry to discuss the latest developments in the industrial control and automation space with over 300 Routeco customers attending. Milton Keynes was the most attended of the three events with 194 customers, followed by the Leeds event with 106 and Glasgow with 80. Visitors included business leaders, engineers, technical managers and commercial managers for machine builders, system integrators and panel builders.

During the day, attendees also had the opportunity to listen to a choice of over 20 seminars hosted by Routeco and exhibitors. The topics covered Industry 4.0 and Smart Manufacturing, IT/OT Convergence and Network Infrastructure, Machine Safety and Legislation, Cyber Security, Motion Control and the expanding global markets for UK Machine Builders.

Show floor

The events centred on a show floor where you could find exhibits from Routeco’s manufacturing partners. Routeco Product Sales Specialists were on hand to answer any questions and help visitors learn more about how they can use technology as a competitive advantage to get products and machines to market faster, reduce costs, better utilise power and plant-floor assets and minimise the risks in their manufacturing environment.

Rockwell Automation’s “The Connected Enterprise on the Move” was also a part of the event and featured live demonstrations of its products and solutions. Meanwhile, visitors to the Stratus Technologies stand stood a chance of winning their very own Star Wars BB Droid that was weaving its way across the show floor throughout the day!

Seminar highlights

Connected Enterprise Room

With standing room only, the dedicated Rockwell Automation breakout sessions featured presentations and talks from industry experts covering all aspects of the Connected Enterprise. 

Starting out with Rockwell’s current and future products and services, particularly how they help customers drive improved productivity and efficiency, the sessions focused on how customers can make machines smarter. A smart machine can provide valuable insight into a manufacturing process, allowing for reduced unplanned downtime, reduced waste and remote support and diagnostics. On the back of this, Rockwell experts walked visitors through a day in the life of a fully digitised plant. This benefitted not only plant stakeholders, from maintenance and operations, but also CEO’s. 

The sessions concluded by summarising some of the best ways to identify, plan and implement a Connected Enterprise solution, all whilst minimising risk to your production and productivity. 

Green room

In the Green seminar room, there were presentations from first time exhibitor and new Routeco partner RF IDeas, as well as HMS, SMC, Molex, Wittenstein, and Grace Engineered Products. Yaskawa presented its Motoman Robots range with MotoLogix, an interface for the programming and control of Yaskawa robots through a PLC. This eliminates the need to learn the robot language and allows the programmer to use the PLC language they already know.

Cognex presented on the topic of machine vision within Industry 4.0. Attendees were given a guide on how to fully integrate the latest vision systems and scanning technologies with other automation equipment and processes. Cisco ended the day with its presentation explaining how customers can make their network the digital factory core that securely manages data to make better business decisions within their industrial environments.

Blue room

The Blue seminar room held talks from companies such as ProSoft Technology, Panduit, Weidmuller, Stratus, CP Automation, and Spectrum Controls. Finder presented its innovative screw-less, push-in relays which are 80 percent quicker than the manual technique of using a screwdriver and 25 percent quicker than using an electric torque screwdriver. 

Rittal presented its new VX25 large enclosure system which was launched recently at Hannover Messe. After five years’ of development, the VX25 meets the requirements of increased productivity in control and switchgear manufacturing and offers a number of improvements over Rittal’s previous TS 8 enclosure system. 

Following the VX25 presentation, Rittal’s sister company EPLAN demonstrated its Cogineer software which allows for the generation of electrical and fluid power schematics at the push of a button. 

GAMBICA

A new addition to Routeco LIVE this year was the special Directors Discussion Lounge, chaired by Victoria Montag, Sector Head for Industrial Automation at GAMBICA. The purpose of this addition to the event was to provide a forum for open debate and best practice sharing on a number of key topics affecting UK businesses at present. 

Apprenticeships was the first key topic discussed, in particular the worrying, steady decline in the number of young people taking up apprenticeships over the past decade. One issue is low retention rates which is preventing companies from investing in apprentices as they are simply poached by larger companies once they gain enough experience and knowledge. This lack of long-term profitability from apprenticeships is harming industry and dissuading many companies from bringing them in. 

The forum agreed that there are currently nowhere near enough apprentices and that the Government needs to improve education to help alleviate the issue. Many young people are fully aware of the major tech companies of the world such as Apple, Google, and Amazon – but they should also be taught about the wide range of industrial companies and the significant amount of jobs that are currently on offer. There is a great opportunity to brand the IoT towards industry, but there first needs to be a pivot towards making the industry more appealing to young people. 

Of course the group also discussed the implications of Brexit and how initially, there was little change in the overall behaviour of industry. However, slowly but surely, investment began to be drawn back and there were many companies simply biding their time to see how the industry reacted to Brexit. The final say on Brexit was that its worst facet was the uncertainty it has caused so far and for the future. Despite there being less than a year to go until the UK leaves the EU, there are still plenty of issues needing to be resolved and industry cannot continue to be kept in the dark and forced to wait Brexit out until continuing to invest. 

Overall, each of the three Routeco LIVE events were a great success and provided a brilliant forum for key players in the control & automation industry to network and learn about the latest technologies. 

The next instalment of Routeco LIVE will be in 2020 and it’s an event not to be missed!


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