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Subcon 2019 — innovation and excellence

The event to source suppliers, benchmark capabilities and form manufacturing partnerships

Posted on 29 May 2019 and read 2016 times
Subcon 2019 — innovation and excellenceSubcon 2019 — the UK’s premier annual supply chain event for manufacturers — returns to the Birmingham NEC from 4 to 6 June, co-locating with The Engineer Expo and Advanced Manufacturing to maximise the value of the event.

Now in its 43rd year, the show enables sub-contract manufacturing buyers to source suppliers, benchmark capabilities and form new manufacturing partnerships.

Against a backdrop of Brexit and technological change in the engineering and manufacturing industries, Subcon 2019 will show how the industry continues to innovate and compete on the global stage.

The show aims to once again deliver the contacts, connections and content that engineering and manufacturing businesses in the UK need to succeed.

Visitors will be able to see new innovations from over 300 world-class suppliers to help them increase their capacity, optimise their productivity and improve their flexibility, while at the same time driving down costs to remain competitive.

For 2019, the exhibition has unveiled the new Launchpad and Launchpad Awards, which will showcase cutting-edge innovations with dedicated space at the event for specially selected start-ups.

The Launchpad aims to assist fledgling companies in manufacturing and engineering by giving them an opportunity to share their innovations with thousands of professionals who have the power to guide them to future success.

The showcase and awards will deliver an unrivalled platform for eight engineering start-ups and a prize package worth £10,000 to the winner.

Subcon 1Key decision makersAmong the exhibitors returning to Subcon this year is Nottingham-based Goodman Metal Works (www.goodmanmetalworks.co.uk), a full-service metal fabrication company (Stand D27). Director Richard Goodman said: “It is a very compact event, spread out over three days, so it is a very easy way to meet the critical people you need to meet.”

Banbury-based 3-D printers and additive-manufacturing systems reseller Laserlines (www.laserlines.co.uk) will be debuting not only new machinery but also new materials (Stand D79). Sales director Mark Tyrtania said: “Subcon is the right mix of visitors from varied industries; my top tip is to arrive early and leave late.”

Smethwick-based Metpro (www.metpro.co.uk) has grown to become a leading supplier of machined, pressed and moulded components to the mechanical and electrical market in the UK (Stand D30). Marketing manager Jacob Rudge said that the value of Subcon is the quality of people that attend: “Our success has been through meeting key decision makers — some of the most successful outcomes we have had throughout the years have been from just striking up conversations.”

general Subcon Meanwhile, The Engineer Expo delivers the “innovation, inspiration and insight” that businesses need to optimise their engineering and manufacturing strategies. From an exhibition of next-generation design and technology solutions from the UK’s most ground-breaking suppliers to an unrivalled conference programme featuring industry leaders responsible for some of the UK’s most inspiring engineering and manufacturing projects, it will keep visitors abreast of the big issues, such as Industry 4.0.

The Advanced Manufacturing Show will showcase live machine demonstrations and the latest efficiency-boosting innovations from world-class suppliers. It is an opportunity to review outsourcing and procurement decisions and bring tools and technology up to speed — and to reduce costs, cut lead times and increase productivity.

Conference programme

Following the success of the conference programme in 2018, Subcon will feature presentations from industry pioneers such as Siemens and Rolls-Royce, as well as organisations including Make UK, the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) and WMG (formerly the Warwick Manufacturing Group).

The conference programme will deliver an insight into industry issues, with presentations from industry leaders responsible for some of the UK’s most inspiring and ground-breaking engineering and manufacturing projects.

Speakers confirmed this year include: Brian Holliday, managing director of Siemens Digital Industries, delivering a keynote address, on the latest developments and momentum around Industry 4.0; Mark Ireland, MTC chief engineer, speaking on the MTC Sit Ski project and the role of collaboration; Make UK CEO Stephen Phipson on the impact of Brexit and the changes felt throughout the manufacturing supply chain; Riona Armesmith, Rolls Royce’s Hybrid Electric Propulsion chief project engineer, on the development of electric/hybrid aircraft and the E-Fan X project; Lina Huertas, MTC head of technology strategy (digital manufacturing) on the technologies set to transform manufacturing; Jeremy Pullen from Sartorious on what is next for additive manufacturing; ABB Robotics channel manager Steve Banton, on the development of cobotics and where automation will make its impact felt; Rachel Edes from WMG on the challenge and opportunity of creating a domestic supply chain for electric vehicles; Nick Hawker, First Light Fusion CEO and co-founder, on the commercial application of nuclear fusion; and Martin Little, Rail Alliance commercial director, on the overlooked opportunities within the rail industry.

Gordon Kirk, event director for Subcon said: “We are fully aware of the pressures on UK engineering and manufacturing businesses, so we have crammed as much value into the event as we can.

From the 34 sessions of The Engineer Conference to the showcase of new start ups and co-locating with Advanced Manufacturing Show and The Engineer Expo, Subcon 2019 will deliver huge value to visitors throughout the three days. We are excited to include so much new material and now look forward to opening the doors at the NEC.”


Among the exhibitors at this year’s Subcon will be Bedfordshire-based Macsa ID UK Ltd (www.macsa.com), which will display its upgraded iLaserbox 450 laser marking workstation (Stand D71). Described as “ideal for first-time laser users”, this now features a lateral (instead of vertical) door for improved ease of operation. The newly enhanced work-station can be switched to Class 4 mode for marking large or irregular parts, making it suitable for high-value low-volume applications in a range of industrial markets, including automotive and aerospace.

MIE Mobile Warehouse (www.mie-solutions.com) is a warehouse management application that enables users to control inventory, receive and ship items, select goods from a pick list and clock in and out of time-sheets (Stand D24). The Android app provides an intuitive and easy-to-use graphical interface that communicates with the new MIE Platform (a Web services platform offering the same technical framework as MIE Trak Pro).

Suffolk-based Waveney Precision Ltd (www.waveneyprecision.co.uk) has added a ‘state of the art’ DMG Mori DMU 50 five-axis machining centre to its existing line-up of milling, turning and EDM technology (Stand D1). Business development manager Jamie Walker said: “We have been getting more and more requests for machined parts that suit five-axis machining and, even though our team of engineers has managed to produce 80% of these parts using three- and four-axis machines, we will now use this new machining centre to improve our productivity and increase our capabilities.“

Redruth-based DP Engineering (www.dpengineeringltd.co.uk), a precision sub-contract engineering firm, has recently invested in a new Citizen L20X sliding-head machine to increase its capacity (Stand C44). Aiming to become a fully digitalised business in 2019, the company will be able to offer faster turnround times and increased productivity for customers.

Truro-based Logan Electronics (www.logan lec.dircon.co.uk), which provides a sub-contract manufacturing service to aerospace, defence companies and OEMs (Stand C42), has recently secured a major contract from an aerospace prime and taken on additional staff.

India-based Diamond Metal Screens (www.diamondscreens.com) — a sheet metal and perforated metal manufacturer with a facility in the state of Karnataka — will be at Subcon (Stand F38) to showcase its increased capacity and new perforation presses, as well as sharing details of its brand-new manufacturing plant and its ability to export world-wide.

Southampton-based Red Box Engineering (www.redboxengineering.com), a specialist in sheet metal fabrication and metal welding, will be showcasing its complete design, metal prototyping and production service (Stand E34). The company, which was established over 50 years ago, continues to grow, and it has recently invested in a new press brake to increase its capacity.

Glasgow-based E-Max Systems Ltd (www.emax-systems.co.uk), will be highlighting its ERP system designed primarily for engineers, manufacturers and fabricators. Manufacturers or engineers fed up struggling with spreadsheets/legacy systems, managing their MRP (material requirements planning), dealing with multi-level large bills of materials or never knowing what capacity they have at any point in time should visit E-Max (Stand A41). The business has also added new financial functionality into its manufacturing software — E-Max ERP (enterprise resource planning) — and is showcasing the new version of its Shop Floor Data Collection.

Wellingborough-based Turnell & Odell (www.toengineering.co.uk), a leading precision engineering business (Stand D31), can now offer additional capacity, as it is working with Kettering-based Tordoff Engineering. The range of plant includes all disciplines from three-, four- and five-axis CNC machining to lathes that vary from small bar-fed machines to others with 3,000mm between centres. Together with AS9100 and Fit4Nuclear accreditations, the company can take on projects for customers in a broad range of industries.

Nottinghamshire-based Statii Ltd (www.statii.co.uk) will be demonstrating its user-friendly ERP/MRP software (Stand H17). Designed for manufacturing companies, this is an all-encompassing tool that can manage everything from quoting through to invoicing and is very price-competitive.

Milton Keynes-based JFL Broaches & Broaching (www.jflbroaches.co.uk) will be celebrating its 10th year in business at Subcon (Stand A4). From small beginnings in 2009, JFL has grown to a team of seven and is currently awaiting delivery of another broaching machine to further increase its sub-contract capacity.

Bristol-based Rencol Components Ltd (www.rencol.com), which has a long tradition of standard component manufacturing, will be showcasing its newly expanded and updated range of enclosure hardware (Stand C3), including industry-standard cabinet locks, cam locks, cylinder locks, latches and adjustable toggle latches — all available from stock.

Oxfordshire-based Precipart Ltd (www.precipart.com), a global manufacturer of high-precision custom gears and mechanical components is growing rapidly (Stand D34). It provides mechanical components, assemblies, gears and motion control solutions to some of the leading names in the medical, aerospace and industrial sectors. A company spokesman said: “We have just about doubled our manufacturing campus in the USA over the last five years. “We have also opened a facility in Bangalore and will be cutting gears there within the next couple of months. Meanwhile, the Swiss facility has added the EN 9100 registration, which means we are now 9001, 13485 (medical) and 9100 (aerospace) registered across the company.”

Slough-based Sandford Electrical Services (www.sandfordelectrical.co.uk) offers a design and manufacturing service (Stand D33). This is now semi-automated, meaning its bespoke electrical control panels can now be installed far more efficiently, reducing turnround times by 30-40%. It will be highlighting an interactive display showing how its enclosures are wired quickly and easily with the assistance of EPLAN Pro Panel Software.

CNC Leicester Ltd (www.cncleicester.com), which is BSI AS9100 accredited, has recently expanded to a second site in Sileby and invested in vapour blasting, vibratory rumbling and chemical blacking to increase its competitiveness, allowing customers to benefit from increased efficiencies and technical support (Stand G5).

Advance Northumberland (www.advance northumberland.co.uk) will be hosting the Northumberland Pavilion at Subcon again this year and will be bringing a delegation of five manufacturing businesses operating in the supply chain that are looking to grow or diversify. With many UK and international companies having chosen Northumberland as their base, the county has become home to some of the most technologically advanced manufacturing and engineering companies in the world. Access to skilled local labour, excellent transport links and access to regional universities and centres of excellence all contribute to Northumberland’s success.

Oxfordshire-based Thermal Vision Research will showcase its new FLIR X6900sc thermal imaging camera for the R&D community (Stand A71), along with tailored software packages.

Hastings-based Wilson Process Systems (www.pass-thermal.co.uk) specialises in PCB assembly and electronic manufacturing services (Stand B13). Last year saw the company complete its transition to ISO 9001:2015 while winning new business in the audio, medical, lighting and energy meter sectors. This year, Wilson will move towards implementing ISO 14001, along with expanding its number of IPC trained operators to enable greater diversity of services. The company has recently invested in two Soltec 7038 reflow ovens (bringing the total number to four) and has plans for two more precision screen print machines, giving increased flexibility across its four high-speed lines.

WEC subconLancashire-based WEC Group (www.wec-group.com), one of the largest engineering companies in the UK, specialises in fabrication, profiling, machining, robotic welding and finishing (Stand C15). Its in-house capacity includes 200 skilled welder/fabricators, 25 laser and three water-jet cutting machines, 40 CNC metal-cutting machines and 12 robotic welding cells. With 600,000ft2 of manufacturing floor space, it provides sub-contract services for a broad range of industries, including nuclear, aerospace, oil and gas, defence, rail and marine. Established for 40 years, WEC has grown from a small welding and fabrication shop operating from a makeshift shed in Darwen to one of the largest contract manufacturing companies in Europe — serving OEMs and small businesses alike. WEC operates within ISO 9001:2015 requirements, is AS/EN 9100 Aerospace accredited for laser cutting and water-jet cutting, works to ASME 8 Coded Welding Standards and has achieved full compliance with BS/EN 1090-1 Structural Steel CE Marking — demonstrating its ability to deliver high-quality products conforming to customer demands and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.

Barrett Engineering Steel Ltd (www.barrettsteel.com) is a specialist supplier of a wide range of black and bright carbon, alloy and stainless steel products, with over 8,000 tonnes of stock (Stand B12). The processing services that it can provide include cutting, peeling and grinding, boring, heat treatment, testing and machining. It is an established supplier to a number of leading OEMs in sectors that include mining, oil and gas, yellow goods, off highway and automotive products. It has six depots strategically placed around the UK and Ireland to make its supply and delivery as efficient as possible. The company has recently updated its stock profile to include EN30B, and it has installed a new ‘state of the art’ Amada bandsaw at its Midlands depot.

Cornwall-based Bott Ltd (www.bottltd.co.uk) is a manufacturer and supplier of workshop storage equipment, in-vehicle equipment and workplace systems (Stand E69). With production facilities in the UK, Germany and Hungary and with licensed partners and importers world-wide, Bott has an international service network that enables it to respond to local needs. At the Advanced Manufacturing Show, the company is showcasing its heavy-duty high-quality Cubio range, which can be combined to create tailored and flexible working solutions. Cubio also integrates with its range of CNC and tool storage options, incorporating LEAN, 5S and Six Sigma initiatives, promoting efficiency and productivity in the workplace. With a comprehensive product range and the flexibility of having its own manufacturing plant in the UK, the company can create custom-made solutions.

Grenville Engineering (Stoke-on-Trent) Ltd (www.grenville-engineering.co.uk) will be returning once again to Subcon (Stand F20) after “a fantastic year of growth”. The company offers a complete fabrication solution — from laser cutting, metal forming, welding and assembly to finishing services. The company has gone from strength to strength over the last few years, culminating in a major contract worth over £400,000 towards the end of last year (its largest so far). Grenville has recruited extra production staff to meet the increased demand and acquired a new unit to carry out stainless steel fabrication work. Sales director Stuart Rawlinson said: “We are continuing to grow year on year, and we are currently ahead of this year’s targets. Through continual investment in machinery, expanding our skilled workforce and taking on additional units, the business remains strong and agile. This has increased our capacity and opportunities, while fitting into our overall long-term business plan. We are also seeing more enquiries from outside our traditional area, so the future is looking bright.”

Automation takes centre stage on XYZ’s Advanced Manufacturing stand

XYZ Machine Tools (www.xyzmachinetools .com) will be showcasing a robot-based automation cell — Robo-Tend — in Advanced Manufacturing (Stand B61). This modular and mobile system is designed for use with XYZ vertical machining and turning centres fitted with Siemens controls; it will be demonstrated working with a 750 LR vertical machining centre.

XYZ subconXYZ is one of the UK’s largest suppliers of machine tools, with a product range spanning manual training machines, ProtoTrak-controlled mills and lathes, CNC vertical machining and turning centres and the UMC-5X five-axis machining centre. The company offers an all-round service to customers, which includes technical support, service and training, as well as finance options to suit all businesses, plus on-going support by its applications team.

To ensure that customers get the machine they need, when they need it, XYZ holds over 300 machines in stock at its Burlescombe-based headquarters, with five showrooms around the country (providing easy access for demonstrations and training) and a dedicated 18,000ft2 of warehouse space containing over £1.5 million worth of spare parts for rapid response to any issues.

XYZ’s success was founded on the innovative ProtoTrak control system for mills and lathes. Designed ‘from the ground up’ to be easy to use, this enables users to program machines after just a few hours of training.

The latest-generation ProtoTrak control — the RX — has retained all the features that made the control system popular with thousands of customers but also has a host of new features, including a 15.6in touch-screen.

The Brexit effect

Recently revealed figures from the Subcon annual barometer of UK manufacturing and engineering show more than a third of respondents maintaining or reducing their head-count as a result of the Brexit situation. Another 32% are maintaining or reducing their investment in equipment purchases, and 28% are applying the same caution to R&D.

Meanwhile, 30% of respondents have put their European expansion plans on hold or have cut the funding available. While just over half of UK businesses (55%) remain confident that they are correctly structured to handle the
challenges of the UK’s exit from the European Union, 48% admit that they are not adequately funded to do so.

When it comes to the specific preparations for Brexit: one third of respondents have created — or are in the process of creating — partnerships with companies in Europe to facilitate continued trading; 27% have submitted their credentials for cross-border certification, such as AEO; 23% have created (or are developing) subsidiaries or divisions of existing companies in the EU; and 15% have built (or are building) new premises in mainland Europe.

Subcon event director Gordon Kirk said: “With more than two thirds of our visitors and exhibitors doing business in Europe, there is no denying that Brexit will form the backdrop to most conversations at Subcon this year. We even recognise this in the conference programme, with Make UK CEO Stephen Phipson delivering a presentation on what the EU withdrawal is most likely to mean for the UK manufacturing supply chain.”

Reducing design time and costs for manufacturers

Birmingham-based Norelem Ltd (www.norelem.co.uk), a manufacturer and supplier of flexible standard parts and components for mechanical engineering applications, will be returning to Subcon (Stand A34) for the second year running.

NorelemThe company will be displaying a range of standard components from its 45,000-plus portfolio, including a variety of toggle clamps and wedge clamps,
as well as a wide range of operational parts (including grips, handles and knobs), plus positioning tables and electronic positioning indicators.

Marcus Schneck, CEO of Norelem, said: “This year at Subcon, our core aim is to help manufacturers reduce their design times and become more accurate in their project cost calculations. With manufacturing being the backbone of the UK’s economy, it is important that we help this industry to thrive and compete on the global platform. Our huge range of
standard components is readily accessible for design engineers, with 98% of the items held in stock and available for dispatch on the same day.”

As well as reducing design lead times, Norelem’s products can also shorten production times. With the company’s toggle clamps, workpieces of different or variable heights can be clamped quickly and safely without changing the setting of the pressure screw. Meanwhile, wedge clamps allow two workpieces to be held together at once, so they can be machined in one pass.

Grips, handles and knobs from Norelem come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and variations — there are over 600 types of pull handle in stock — while knobs are available as mushroom, ball, conical or tapered, ensuring that there is one suitable for any application.

At Subcon, visitors will also be able to test Norelem’s positioning tables which can be used to position components, stops, sensors, limit switches, grippers or even cameras to the nearest 0.01mm, with LCD screens available for easy reading.

The need to attract women into engineering

Subcon revealed encouraging figures last month (from its annual barometer of the UK manufacturing and engineering supply chain) on attempts to attract female engineering talent to either enter or re-enter the manufacturing and engineering sectors. Last year, respondents were asked what they thought needed to be done to encourage women to consider engineering or manufacturing as a career, and just 7% said they thought that enough had been done; this year, the figure was 56%.

Women in engineeringLooking at
the potential methods to encourage this choice of career, greater transparency around pay was the number-one tactic
according to 81% — up from 39% in 2018. This year, Subcon is celebrating 100 years of the Women’s Engineering Society. The WES will be at the show, and the morning of 6 June will be dedicated to the need to improve UK engineering’s gender balance. The speakers will include WES CEO Elizabeth Donnelly and Katalytik managing
director Jan Peters.

According to WES, there are about 20,000 qualified female engineers that could be persuaded to return to the sector. When asked how this could be achieved, respondents to the survey identified flexible work patterns as the main tactic (consistent with 2018), followed by tax incentives/child-care vouchers and return-to-work programmes.

Ms Donnelly said: “Campaigns to get more women into engineering have been more visible recently, and there may be a sense that the job is done. However, it takes years to build a pipeline of women in engineering, and we must keep pushing.

"When I went to university in the late 1980s, there would be one or two women studying for an engineering degree. Those women are just now beginning to take senior roles, because it takes up to 30 years to get to the right stage in a career, and if women have career breaks, it will take a little longer; so we are seeing a few women reaching the top of engineering, with more women coming through, but it’s still not enough. Only 12% of the UK’s engineers are women, so we need to keep attracting more women.”

World record attempt up for discussion

Ian Warhurst, the man behind the revival of the Bloodhound land speed record (LSR) project, has been lined up to speak at The Engineer Conference.

BloodhoundBased in Gloucestershire, the Bloodhound supersonic car is back on track with its world record attempt after recently being rescued from administration. It is now being prepared for tests in South Africa at speeds up to 400mph, before challenging the world land speed record and attempting to break 1,000mph.

The current world land speed record of 763.035mph was set over 20 years ago by a British team that included the Bloodhound LSR driver Andy Green. Ian Warhurst, the Yorkshire engineering entrepreneur behind the project’s revival, will be talking to the editor of The Engineer on 4 June. The conversation will include Mr Warhurst’s plans and ambitions for the iconic UK engineering project.