It's nearly that time of year again: Southern Manufacturing and Electronics 2017 is just around the corner (21 – 23 March 2017). Last year, the UK's largest regional manufacturing technology, electronics and subcontracting exhibition attracted more than 8,600 industry professionals, making it the most successful to date – and it looks set to be even more impressive this year.
The show attracts many electronics manufacturing services (EMS) providers, as well as some of the UK's top engineering firms and component distributors. This makes it the perfect opportunity to meet face-to-face with potential outsourcing partners and to find new suppliers (more than 600 will be in attendance), who can help you to grow and develop your business in today's competitive and fast-changing environment.
So, if you haven't yet got around to planning your visit, now's the time to do so. The three-day event runs from 9.30am to 4.30pm on Tuesday 21 March and Wednesday 22 March, and from 9.30am to 3.30pm on Thursday 23 March. There will be lots going on, so it's important to use your time wisely. Here's our eight-point guide, to help you make the most of your visit:
The show is located at FIVE (Farnborough International Venue and Events) – a 3,000 sqm permanent event venue and 100,000 sqm site run by Farnborough International Ltd, which also organises the biennial Farnborough International Airshow.
2. Directions and parking
If you're planning to drive and have a Sat Nav, the postcode to use is GU14 6TQ. From the M3 take junction 4 and then follow the A331 to Farnborough. The show will be clearly AA signposted on all roads approaching the venue. Parking is free and there are plenty of spaces available.
If you are travelling by bus, rail, or air, please click here for further information, including maps and timetables.
You can pre-register for the event online by filling out a short form. Entry is free and you will also receive a free show catalogue upon arrival, which otherwise costs £10. Additionally, you can sign up for seminars once you've completed your registration.
4. Floor plan
Unfortunately, it's not possible to get a copy of the latest floor plan in advance, unless you're an exhibitor. However, the show catalogue will have the latest copy included - so make sure you either pre-register or pay the £10 to avoid walking up and down the aisles hunting for specific suppliers. An exhibitor list can be accessed from the homepage of the Industry South website. You can search either by category or company name and each exhibitor will have their own profile page, detailing their stand number and other contact details.
5. Your itinerary
When you first arrive at Southern Manufacturing and Electronics 2017, it's a good idea to outline your plan of attack. We would recommend taking a 30-minute timeout at the start of your day – there are two large catering areas and a handful of tea and coffee lounges onsite – to work out who you want to speak to and ensure you don't miss any great opportunities.
However, if you already have a good idea of the suppliers you want to meet, then it's well worth contacting them in advance. This approach will allow you to keep control of your schedule and will reduce the chance of you turning up at the same time as other interested parties.
It's also important to consider how you will record your conversations with suppliers, so that you can refer to them after the show - for example, you might have a supplier checklist or questionnaire that you could adapt for the event.
6. Social media
If you want to keep up to date about Southern Manufacturing and Electronics 2017 on social media, here are the key accounts to have on your radar:
- LinkedIn: Industry.co.uk (you can ask to join the group)
- Twitter: @Industry_co_uk
- YouTube: UKIndustry
7. Request for quote (RfQ)
With a number of potential partners all under one roof, Southern Manufacturing and Electronics 2017 creates a perfect opportunity for benchmarking. However, we would recommend holding back from issuing out "live" quote packs during the show; unless, of course, you are confident a supplier has the capability, quality and ability to deliver your immediate requirements. Instead, we recommend using the show as a way of creating a shortlist of potential suppliers and then spending time sending tailored request for quotes (RFQ) when you are back in the office.
8. Learn something new
There will be 28 one-hour seminars during the three-day event, which are hosted by top speakers in their industry fields. These fall into two main categories, engineering and electronics, and cover a range of topics, including:
- CE marking 2017 and beyond
- An introduction to 3D printing and the exciting benefits it brings to manufacturers
- Demystifying the Internet of Things for energy data collection in an industrial environment
- Lean: driving efficiency in business - a practical guide
- Life after Brexit - what next in trade relations and product regulation?
The engineering seminars take place in theatre 1 and the electronics seminars take place in theatre 2. Places fill up fast, so it's advisable to sign up for the ones that spark your interest during pre-registration.
So, there you have it: your eight-point guide to Southern Manufacturing and Electronics 2017. To conclude, we have one more piece of advice: to consolidate your time at the show, it's really important to follow up with any potential outsourcing partners or other key suppliers that you meet during your visit, once you get back in the office. After all, you might have just come across an organisation that could help you to achieve some of your most important business objectives.
We hope to see you there!