Subcon 2011 - Drawing the crowds

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This year's Subcon exhibition, NEC Birmingham from 7 to 9 June, looks set to be the best yet for British exhibitors, say the organisers. Andrew Allcock reports

Subcon has doubled in size since 2007, and this year's event will attract over 300 exhibitors, more than 200 of them UK subcontractors, with more than 4,000 visitors expected to attend, according to the show's promoter. Subcontracting services covered by the event include all kinds of machining and metal forming, plastic moulding, electronic assembly, prototyping, toolmaking and surface engineering. Visitors to Subcon 2010 included supply chain managers and sourcing professionals from companies such as BAe Systems, JCB, Rolls-Royce, Schneider Electric, Babcock and Siemens. Some 95% of visitors came to source UK suppliers and nearly two-thirds have asked companies they met at Subcon 2010 to quote for contracts. Image: Subcon - the place to talk and do deals Buyers are attracted to Subcon, it is suggested, because they know it is the only place where they can see companies offering the complete range of manufacturing services. And the international exhibitor base allows UK subcontractors to put themselves in front of top-level buying teams from leading OEMs that simply don't visit other shows. ALL EMBRACING SHOW "Where Subcon scores over sector-specific events is that it is the UK's number one subcontract manufacturing event for all sectors – aerospace and defence, medical equipment, automotive and motorsport, offshore and energy – every part of industry that needs contract manufacturing services," says exhibition manager Jon Clark. "The show's reach is another big plus. Visitor numbers are evenly spread between the South, the Midlands, the North and Scotland, making Subcon the most cost-effective way to market your business throughout the UK." And he adds that a record number of companies rebooked for Subcon 2011 at the 2010 show. UK subcontractors exhibiting again in 2011 include Benham Engineering, Tridan, MAN, JP Forrest, Presspart Manufacturing, Brandauer, RSC Engineering, Arnold Engineering Plastics, Border Precision and Laser Process, and they will be joined by new exhibitors such as Reliance Precision, Icon Plastics, Phoenix Dynamics, Folsana Pressed Sections, Beagle Aerospace, WEC Group, Metsec, OGP, OPS, and PP Electrical Systems. As an added incentive to visitors, the Manufacturing Technology Zone returns to this year's Subcon. This covers ancillary items to support the outsourcing process – such as metrology equipment, packaging, marking, prototyping, scheduling software and much more. And for visitors who also have in-house manufacturing operations, it presents a showcase of the latest manufacturing technology for machining, metalforming, CADCAM and prototyping. Complementing this, and new for this year, 'The Tooling Show @ Subcon' will present the latest developments in tooling for advanced manufacturing. Running alongside the show is the Subcon seminar programme, which combines case studies from General Dynamics, Eaton Aerospace and Force Protection Europe with updates on the latest market opportunities, supply chain thinking and technological developments. The seminars also celebrate World Class achievement, with presentations from Richard Noble OBE of the Bloodhound SSC team (picture, right), and Don Wales, holder of the world speed record for a steam-powered car, who now attempting to break his own UK speed record for an electric vehicle. SEMINAR PROGRAMME This year's headline seminar sessions feature leading OEMs from the aerospace and defence sector. The programme on Tuesday, 7 June, kicks off with Russell Smith, supply chain director, Force Protection Europe, on how the supply chain for Foxhound, the British Army's new light protected patrol vehicle, was put together. Key themes are a focus on UK suppliers, including SMEs in the supply chain and low-risk innovation using commercial off-the-shelf parts. Image: Russell Smith, supply chain director, Force Protection Europe, will talk about supply chain issues related to the Foxhound project On Wednesday, 8 June, Malcolm Herrington of Eaton Aerospace looks at how that company has rationalised and consolidated its subcontract supply chain. Approaches include a focus on fewer, larger suppliers, low-cost sourcing and using a third-party logistics partner to manage smaller UK suppliers. On Thursday, 9 June, Byron Clarke of General Dynamics will talk about SC21, from the customer's point of view. This will look at the cost reduction benefits that have come from General Dynamics' initiatives with suppliers and as a cluster leader. Strategic supply chain issues covered in other presentations across the three days of the show include: market opportunities in offshore wind energy production; how to ensure you maintain intellectual property when dealing with subcontractors; where additive manufacturing fits in the supply chain; and what a sustainable supply chain looks like. Other sessions cover supplier relationships – how to get the best out of your foundry, the power of collaboration – telling the story of the MAN group; and a presentation from the GTMA on Flexform, a new 'rapid' manufacturing process for sheet metal parts. Business briefings also cover sourcing from China and Thailand. First published in Machinery, May 2011,/b>