That will have included other manufacturing technology besides machine tools, but MACH 2008 is still likely to have been the catalyst for at least 20 per cent of that year's machine tool consumption, which, according to US publisher Gardner Publications, was around £500 million, adjusted using Bank of England average exchange rates. Image:MACH 2008 drew the crowds and egnerated business According to that publication's annual survey, this country's machine tool consumption was almost $950 million in 2008, with that a 6 per cent increase, in dollar terms, on 2007 – around 16 per cent in sterling terms. Well, it's almost two years on and the global economy has been battered, as we all know only too well. Deep as the UK recession has been, the good news is that it ended in Q4 last year, according to figures released by the ONS in January. And there is a rise of positive sentiment for UK manufacturing, as reflected in the headlines of the mainstream media, which is not backwards in coming forwards to report bad news from manufacturing. Image: Positive headlines for manufacturing It also seems that the government might just have got the message about over-reliance on the City and the finance sector, and is looking to other parts of the economy, notably industry, to rebalance things. In launching its latest tome, Going for Growth, Business Secretary of State Lord Mandelson observed this – "For the past decade, we allowed ourselves to become over-dependent on the City and financial services for growth and our tax revenues. That is why, without wishing the financial sector to be smaller, we need other industrial strengths and sources of revenue to grow faster." Well, the first step towards solving a problem is recognition of that problem, so that is good to hear. And government action is promised in support of helping industry to grow, although we are in an election year, of course. BETTER; NOT PERFECT Now, quite clearly, all is not as it was, but, overall, the economy is, once again, growing and manufacturing appears to be seen as more important to the UK than in the recent past – similarly in America, in fact. And with the MACH show this year being put on later than is usual – from 7-11 June and at the NEC, Birmingham – this most important national biennial manufacturing technology show could not be better timed to catch the rising tide and help kick-start UK manufacturing's investment activity. Image: Talking technology at MACH 2008 Already the show is claiming 300-plus exhibitors and coverage of almost 18,000 m2 (target, 19,500 m2) in two halls. And the exhibition will have many facets to attract visitors. According to Graham Shearsmith, business and exhibition manager at show organiser the 262-member Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA), it will build on those initiatives that made 2008 such a successful event. That means new products will again be prominently pointed up via the 'New at MACH' signage; colour-coded carpeting will aid visitors, as before; premier parking, outside halls, will be expanded; plasma screens around the halls will once again bring news to visitors; the registration area will again be spacious, allowing people to get in easily and quickly; pre-registered visitors (visit www.mach2010.com) will be engaged via comprehensive visitor pack, email, SMS and phone contact ahead of the show, with efforts redoubled in this area – 77 per cent of preregistered visitors attended last time. The impact of all these things last time was reflected in a visitor survey that, says Mr Shearsmith, highlighted that it was the "look and feel" of the show that was praised highly, giving it a "must-attend" cachet. He is keen to stress that that the show will maintain those attributes again for 2010, but adds that there will be further additions to make the show draw high numbers of those interested in manufacturing technology and related services. GET IN THE ZONE These include a number of new zones, taking in: additive manufacturing, under the aegis of Time Compression Technologies magazine, organiser of the TCT event later in the year; a supplier zone, focused on UK sub-contractors – suppliers not yet members of the MTA can gain extra benefit by joining the organisation now (call Graham Shearsmith on 020 7298 6400); the BTMA lounge (British Turned Parts Manufacturers' Association – see box item, left), specialist turning-focused sub-contractors, but who also carry out other machining operations; a Business Solutions area (where support services, such as finance, may be found, plus a general meeting area); grinding zone; plus the education and training zone. These will be in addition to those zone that have previously been part of the show: robotics and automation zone (BARA - British Automation Robot and Association – see box, left), which has been expanded to allow all exhibitors to demonstrate their products; MMMA zone, which is, in fact, sold out, with a waiting list (Metalworking Machinery Manufacturers Association – see box, left); CBM pavilion (Confederation of British Metalformers – see box, left); GTMA lounge (Gauge and Tool Makers' Association – see box, left); measurement and inspection zone; CADCAM zone; welding and metal fabrication zone; and the engineering and lasers zone. Other new elements of the MACH 2010 event include an online show directory, available after MACH and complementary to the printed show guide, which will, as ever, be available free-of-charge to all visitors. Interactive hall maps will also be available online, allowing visitors to plan their attendance. Returning to the new zones, and the education and training one, in particular – the centrepiece of the zone will be the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing MANufacturing TRAnsporter (MANTRA – see http://tinyurl.com/y9bclg8) – a specially equipped 14 m long lorry designed to give aspiring young engineers a hands-on experience with real, leading-edge manufacturing technologies. Once in the MACH 2010 Education and Training Zone, schools with pupils aged 14-16 will be given managed tours to enable them to fully experience MACH 2010, while older students will be provided with educational packs produced by DTEP (Design and Technology Educational Partnership), which include details of a self-guided tour. The tours include a visit to the MANTRA, to which Rolls-Royce, Boeing, Sandvik Coromant, Mori Seiki and 3D virtual reality company Virtalis have all contributed resources for students to experience. In addition, the zone features a seminar area and will play host to a number of relevant exhibitors. OLYMPIC REPRESENTATION The UK Skills Olympics (www.worldskillsuk.org) is also expected to be represented, while copies of Engineering Apprentice, sister publication to Machinery and sponsored by the MTA, will be distributed. Not yet confirmed, but fully expected to be part of the education and training zone will be Bloodhound SSC, the vehicle supporting the UK's bid to break the 1,000 mph barrier on land (www.bloodhoundssc.com). Apart from setting a new record, which the same team captured with Thrust SSC in 1997 when it reached 763.035 mph on the Black Rock Desert, Nevada, USA, it is also intended to drive renewed enthusiasm for engineering and science by supporting related projects in schools. As of November last year, the project had over 2,410 primary and secondary schools, 176 further education colleges and 33 universities signed up and using Bloodhound Education resources in their lessons. "We have reached our target of 10 per cent of the 25,000 schools in England and Wales in the first year alone – the project has even had its first nursery school join this week," project leader Richard Noble, OBE, said. Already, it was explained, it was having an effect. Siobain Barns from Harwood Meadows Primary School in Bolton, who uses the resources in her classroom, comments: "Our pupils are blown away to be involved in such an exciting project and enthusiasm is equally high from girls, as well as boys. They're enjoying maths, without realising they're learning." Not only primary schools, though. The University of the West of England and Swansea University, both of which are Bloodhound Project sponsors, say they have seen increases in student applications for their undergraduate engineering and computing courses of 37 per cent and 32 per cent, respectively. Image: Bloodhound SSC Yes, mainstream media, government and students seem to be taking a greater interest in manufacturing, so it's only appropriate that those already in it should stand up and be counted; attending MACH 2010 is one way of demonstrating that the sector remains vibrant and forward-looking; oh, and also the best way this year to keep up with current manufacturing technology, of course. Machinery's MACH preview issues start in April and will carry more details about the show, while also highlighting technology developments that will be present. Box item Associations at the show BARA (www.bara.org.uk) – provides a voice for the robotics and automation industries. The aim of 43-member BARA is to promote the use of, and assist in the development of, automation. CBM (www.britishmetalforming.com) – the leading trade association for all UK manufacturers of fasteners, forgings, pressings and fabrications. It has around 190 members. BTMA (www.btma.org) – the trade association for precision turned parts and machined component manufacturers in the UK, with some 72 sub-contracting members and 24 technical members (technology suppliers). GTMA (www.gtma.co.uk) – represents over 300 companies in UK toolmaking, metrology, precision machining, tooling technologies and rapid product development. MMMA (www.mmma.org.uk) – represents some 30 companies involved in the manufacture and sale of metalforming machinery and ancillary products in the UK. MTA (www.mta.org) – 262 members, taking in suppliers and users of machine tools, workholding, cutting tools, software (CADCAM, etc). It lobbies government and organises both inward and outward missions for the benefit of members. First published in Machinery, February 2010