Once again, the PPMA Show highlighted why it’s the UK’s unmissable event for processing and packaging machinery, when it returned to Birmingham’s NEC between 26 and 28 September. The 10,000sqm exhibition brought together 350 international exhibitors representing 1,500 brands under one roof, where 7,500 visitors – from the sectors of food, drinks, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and FMCG – plus over 3,500 visitors from the co-located shows Interplas 2017, TCT Show 2017, Sensors and Instrumentation – descended on the show to seek out the latest innovations and discuss the industry’s hot topics.
Looking beyond the traditional manufacturing sector, the PPMA Show 2017 Learning Hub provided a new perspective on relevant trends and issues, as well as skills applicable across all industries. Reflecting this expanded focus, the Football Association’s Martin Glenn officially opened the show and delivered the keynote address, where he discussed how he imparts his skills and knowledge gained during his 30-year experience in the FMCG sector to head up the FA.
A platform for knowledge-sharing
Alongside the transferrable skills shared by Martin Glenn, visitors to the PPMA Show 2017 heard from TED speaker Peter Anderton. Anderton brought his strong corporate background and significant experience in training to enlighten visiting manufacturers and suppliers alike on how to maximize the efficiency of their employees.
The line-up also featured such industry thought leaders as Dr Forbes McDougall, Head of Circular Economy at Veolia. McDougall covered everything from material recovery to ensuring supply chain security, all in the wider context of the circular economy. Robotics and the factory of the future were also on the agenda, with Dr Graham Deacon, Robotics Research Team Leader – Ocado Technology, explaining to PPMA Show visitors how the sensor guided robots of the future are using 3D point cloud cameras in order to pick and pack groceries to guarantee warehouse efficiency and offer a first class customer experience.
Danny Reed of PPMA BEST – the PPMA Group of Associations’ charitable initiative which aims to introduce new talent to the engineering sector in order to meet the demands on UK industry – also took to the stage. Reed spoke about the charity’s plans to support PPMA, BARA and UKIVA member companies to engage with the next generation of engineering apprentices and graduates.
During his presentation, Reed also announced that PPMA BEST has partnered with the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry to host an interactive STEM day on Monday 13th November. The free event, organised by PPMA BEST and the Smallpeice Trust and supported by the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA) and British Automation and Robotics Association (BARA), is designed to excite and inspire young people with a focus on the future of robotics.
Innovation on show
The PPMA Show provided the platform for numerous product launches and UK debuts of innovations from across the processing and packaging machinery industry.
Print and apply labelling technology specialist Cobalt unveiled its new Nexus 20 range, which has impressed the likes of Heinz, Essential Cuisine and Unilever, alongside six innovations in pack, case and pallet labelling, which were demonstrated live.
Representatives from Unilever were in attendance at the exhibition, with Project Manager Barry Leaver commenting: “There’s a good, wide range of products on show. We came here looking for automation partners, which is where our company is headed. We’ve visited the show a number of times and it always delivers good networking opportunities.”
For the first time in the UK, Omron demonstrated the company’s revolutionary new OKAO facial recognition and gesture control technology for machine access and control. Visitors to Omron’s stand could interact with an industrial robot using gesture control alone.
On the second day of the show Dan Rossek, UK Marketing Manager at Omron Europe, commented: “This year’s gone really, really well. We’ve been exhibiting at the show for 10 years and today we’ve had a record number of leads. It’s a great platform for engagement with the right quality of people.”
Omron also sponsored one of the show’s most popular areas – the RoboKeeper challenge. Hundreds of participants attempted to beat the computer-controlled goalkeeper, which uses cutting-edge robotics and vision technology to make it almost impossible to score, with only 26 managing to get the ball in the net!
The PPMA Show 2017 also had a number of first time exhibitors, including Mitsubishi Electric. The electrical equipment manufacturing giant Mitsubishi Electric previewed its highly sophisticated Linear Transfer System at the show, alongside its Smart Carriage Technology which offers precise handling and on-board data processing.
Chris Evans, Manager – Marketing & Operations Group, Mitsubishi Electric Automation Systems Division, commented: “We definitely had a successful show this year at PPMA, meeting with small SME companies right up to some of the largest brands and manufacturers in the world. We easily exceeded our target for sales leads. Most of our visitors were from the UK and Ireland with a few visiting from mainland Europe. We were very happy with the quality of the enquiries we received and so it represented an excellent potential return on investment for us. In short – a good show, well attended and with good quality visitors, thank you PPMA!”
Celebrating industry excellence
Following a busy first day at the NEC, around 400 industry leaders descended on Birmingham’s National Motorcycle museum to celebrate the worthy winners of the PPMA Group Industry Awards 2017 with a glamorous awards dinner and ceremony.
Awards were presented in 11 categories, covering every facet of the industry from processing and packaging to the environment, vision and automation. Among the winners, both Russell Finex and Pacepacker scooped two awards each. Pacepacker took home both the Innovative Packaging Machinery and Innovative Ancillary Equipment awards, while Russell Finex was recognised as Exporter of the Year and was the first company to be honoured in PPMA’s brand-new category, Environmental Initiative of the Year, for its adoption of green measures.
Commenting on its second win of the night, Ray Singh, Managing Director of Russell Finex said: “As we grow year on year we’re using more energy so it’s crucial that we are environmentally responsible. We also have plans to make this a global initiative, rolling it out across our locations in the USA, Belgium, India and China.”
Reflecting on the success of the 2017 event, PPMA Group CEO Andrew Mint said: “The fact the PPMA Show 2017 celebrated its biggest event of the past 12 years is testament to the strength of the processing and packaging industry. From the innovation found across the exhibition floor, to the thought leadership displayed on the Learning Hub stage and the incredible achievements of companies in the PPMA Group Industry Awards, it’s evident UK manufacturing is showing no signs of slowing down.”
The PPMA Show, organised by the PPMA Group, returns to the NEC, Birmingham 25-27 September 2018. For information on exhibiting and sponsorship opportunities please email PPMA Exhibition Sales Manager scott.mcken[email protected].