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Automotive Industries interview – Ian Stone, Managing Director of UK Tech Events

Automotive Engineering 2012 Exhibition and Industry Forum is the latest in the portfolio of exhibitions organized under the umbrella of Advanced Engineering UK 2012 group of events. This year the Advanced Engineering show, being held at the NEC in Birmingham from the 7th to the 8th of November, will include Automotive Engineering as well as Aero Engineering 2012, Composites Engineering Show 2012 and the UK Plastic Electronics Show 2012. The Advanced Engineering UK shows are known for bringing together multiple high growth, value-added advanced engineering and technology events, into a hugely exciting ‘integrated’ UK technology transfer and business development environment. This includes an expected 450+ specialist exhibitors and four integrated parallel sector technology and briefings auditoriums.

The Automotive Engineering 2012 event will have low carbon and ultra-low carbon vehicle engineering as its focus. The two-day event will include daily low carbon vehicle engineering sessions in the open presentations forum. In the two sessions currently scheduled, speakers from MIRA, Emerald Automotive, Inrekor, ANSYS and others will present on a range of subjects from the low carbon and ultra-low carbon vehicle engineering agenda.

Ian Stone, event director for the 2012 Advanced Engineering UK group of events said; “Low carbon vehicles are at the very heart of the UK’s advanced engineering agenda, reflecting continued government backed activity designed to accelerate innovation and stimulate development of sustainable supply chains to make the UK an acknowledged global centre of excellence in the design, development and manufacture of low carbon vehicles. These sessions aim to provide a snapshot of some of the most exciting activity – touching on recent and current low carbon collaborative R & D programs (backed by the Technology Strategy Board), focusing on current low carbon vehicle prototype and production models, and providing insight into ‘specific’ breakthrough enabler technologies and processes – in materials, energy storage, etc. – contributing to energy efficient (and low carbon) vehicle design and development.”
Lisa Bingley from MIRA, will talk on key technologies developed within the multi-million pound Low Carbon Vehicle Technology Project to accelerate introduction of next generation Ultra Low Carbon Vehicles (LCV) to market, focusing on the fifteen technical research and development work streams in areas such as batteries, motors, aerodynamics and systems integration, plus some of the technologies and capabilities developed.

Freddy Page-Roberts of Inrekor will provide an insight into their lightweight automotive structure technology – reducing weight to minimize carbon emissions, extend range and increase load capacity. Inrekor intelligent and adaptable sandwich panel technology, using tensile layers and an ARPRO core, provides 30-40% weight savings with strength and performance enhancements.

Ian Collins, Technical Director at Emerald Automotive’s European Vehicle Engineering Centre will talk on the development of a ‘Lightweight, Ultra Low Carbon Emissions Delivery Van’. The TSB part-funded project has developed a concept for a Range Extended Electric Van meeting payload, range and economic fundamentals; allowing fleet buyers to greatly reduce their carbon footprint. The presentation will focus on the market and fundamental drivers for this type of vehicle, objectives of the TSB project, the lightweight construction methods used, and an overview of the chosen vehicle architecture and component specification.

Further planned contributions include ANSYS UK speaking on the latest simulation technology supporting advances in areas such as fuel cells, hybrid electric vehicles, energy recovery systems and aerodynamics. Furthermore, on the highly topical area of fuel cells, Dennis Hayter, Vice President of Business Development and External Programs at Intelligent Energy and Chair of the UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (UK HFCA) will talk about developing a hydrogen market in the UK – FCEV and H2 infrastructure pathways.

The Composites Engineering Show 2012, is pegged as UK’s composites industry showcase and supported by Composites UK. The event is the country’s only dedicated meeting point for composite materials user industry groups and supply chain raw-materials, technology, process, technology and service partners, serving design and manufacture of high volume consumer products through to high performance advanced engineered products.

Aero Engineering 2012 which is supported by ADS Group, is known to be an established meeting place for the UK aerospace engineering supply chain (the second largest in the world) to meet and do business: from OEMs and integrators right through to all tiers of the supply chain. The event is unique representing the UK’s only 100% dedicated trade show for the ‘purely’ aerospace engineering industries – from design/development, production, assembly, integration & supply chain, through to after-market engineering.

The fourth arm of the Advanced Engineering UK event is the UK Plastic Electronics Show 2012. Supported by ESP KTN and +Plastic Electronics magazine, it represents is the UK’s only ‘free to attend’ educational/information program. At this year’s event, Dr Tom Taylor from CPI’s Printable Electronics Centre, the UK’s national centre for printable electronics, will talk about applications for the automotive sector and will review work on prototype and early stage production of products for automotive applications, including novel lighting, photovoltaic and sensor devices. Examples from recent projects will be used to show the benefits (and limitations) of this technology in terms of added functionality in automotive use, and the strategies employed for low cost production. With the co-locating ‘Automotive Engineering’ show, organizers anticipate very high interest in this theme.

This year’s Advanced Engineering UK will turn the spotlight on Local Enterprise Partnerships or LEPs. As successors to the former UK regional development agencies, LEPs will figure prominently at the event with a program specifically designed to showcase and contrast the range of initiatives that are now being rolled out by these similarly mandated, newly formed, more locally focused organizations, in support of specific advanced engineering and high value manufacturing and technology activity streams. With 39 LEPs already active across the UK, these are increasingly important facilitators of economic regional growth and development at sub-national level; they are also connectivity hubs between OEMs, local and national government, and diverse SME groups.

Organisers of the 2012 Advanced Engineering UK group of events are inviting a selection of these newly formed LEPs to showcase their current programs and philosophy for specifically supporting and capitalizing on the advanced engineering and high value manufacturing sector.
“We are experiencing a brave new world in the transition from RDA to LEP support structures and this program represents a timely opportunity to provide a 3-way intelligence exchange, to facilitate further action. First, an opportunity for individual LEPs, with progressive plans and programs for developing their region’s advanced engineering and high value manufacturing sector, to get face to face contact to acquaint a broad cross section of local, national and international industry groups with their specific visions and policies, and to have the opportunity to meet and discuss. Secondly, the opportunity for the advanced engineering and manufacturing sector itself to talk directly about what it requires from the developing LEP structures. Finally, the opportunity for like-minded LEPs to forge dialogue and intra-LEP cooperation, within the context of the UK’s foremost advanced engineering event, as well as compare best practice in support initiatives,” said Stone.

Automotive Industries spoke to Ian Stone, Managing Director of UK Tech Events Ltd.

AI: Tell us about the Automotive Engineering Exhibition – what are the reasons for holding an auto show at the Advanced Engineering event this year?

Well I don’t need to say that the Automotive industry is at the very forefront of UK manufacturing and advanced engineering, adding some £9.5bn to the UK economy annually and in 2011 building over 1.4 vehicles and 2.5 million engines, and more importantly exporting 80% of this production. We recognise that the UK Automotive sector is enjoying an unprecedented level of new investment – over the last 18 months global automotive companies have made around £5.5 billion of investment into both R&D and production facilities and now in trade surplus, the UK is seen as a preferred location for automotive design and production, reflecting its dynamic, lean, competitive and highly skilled technology and manufacturing base for a growing automotive sector. With ambitions of topping 2million vehicles by 2015, as Vince Cable reaffirmed in his most recent ‘growing the UK supply chain’ statement, this is a once in a life time opportunity to install as step change in capacity in the UK automotive supply chain, and to ensure long term sustained growth at all levels of the UK automotive supply chain.

The SMMT only a month or so ago weeks ago identified some £3billion of immediate new business opportunity for UK based automotive suppliers – from engine castings to forgings, steering systems, trim interiors, vehicle upholstery, electronics and parts, components, supporting engineering services , design test and manufacturing technologies.

The industry needs forums around which the UK ‘automotive engineering ‘ community at every level can interact, specify new and exciting technology streams, source suppliers, transfer technology, identify opportunities and more – to support the development of the UK’s automotive engineering supply chain against the backdrop of these unprecedented market opportunities, and the introduction of this annual ‘nationally focused’ specialist meeting point provides exactly that.

AI: Tell us a little about some of the initiatives made by UK’s automotive industry to promote low carbon and ultra-low carbon vehicle design and engineering.

The UK is positioning itself to become a world leader in the ultra-low carbon vehicle sector and this reflects already 5 years’ worth of commitment from UK governments, from the launch in 2007 by the Technology Strategy Board (the UK’s innovation agency) of the ‘Low Carbon Vehicles Innovation Platform’, and the subsequent establishment of the New Automotive Innovation and Growth Team (NAIGT), with backing from all sides of the UK motor industry.
With the further establishment of the new Automotive Council in 2009, the UK has now a coordinated proactive infrastructure which, together with the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Niche Vehicle Network and Cenex, the UK’s first Centre of excellence for low carbon and fuel cell technologies, is underpinning and directing acceleration of the UK’s position as global centre for low carbon vehicle development, demonstration development and manufacture.
Technology Strategy Board funded demonstrator programmes, since 2009 have embraced all key sectors the low carbon and ultra-low carbon vehicle engineering sector – bringing together volume and niche manufacturers, tier suppliers, research bodies, academia, local & national government and more around a shared agenda. Many examples of UK demonstrator activity are represented at this year’s show, together with illustrations of how these are breaking into mainstream commercialised technology and vehicles. Tens of millions of on-going central funding, matched by industrial companies, has supported already some 70 individual low carbon vehicle projects.

There is a tremendous opportunity for the UK to lead in low carbon vehicle technologies such as hybrid cars plus the next generation of ultra low carbon vehicles and this means continued commitment, through centrally funded R&D and continues inward corporate investments into the UK’s capability in developing secure supply chains supporting such areas as C02 engine technologies, energy storage & management, lightweight vehicle and drivetrain structures, power electronics and more

AI: What will be some of the highlights of the auto show?

Highlights at this inaugural show include the sheer diversity of exhibitor capability under one roof, together with a high quality line up of supporting technical and business presentations plus supporting features. More than 250 exhibitors across the combined ‘automotive engineering’ show floor and co-locating show floors, under the integrated giant roof of Hall 1 at the NEC Birmingham, will provide a plethora of sourcing options meeting the UK’s automotive engineering requirements. From design/development & test engineering technologies and partners through to production/assembly technologies and onto specialist parts, components and sub contract engineering service suppliers and more. With some 140+ free to attend presentations taking place across the individual show zones, automotive session highlights include dedicated Automotive Development & Test Engineering daily programmes, hosted by MIRA, plus contributions from major names including Millbrook, HBM, Emerald Automotive, Intelligent Energy, Chevron, HBM and more . Dedicated daily ‘low carbon vehicle engineering’ sessions, together with Quality management, Composites in Automotive, and Design & Manufacturing Process and Capability Advances are embraced in a packed daily programme.

Additionally, attendees can sit in on daily tutorials on such themes as ‘How to get started on quality initiatives’, ‘IP management’ plus drop in on special feature zones supported by MIRA , Intelligent Energy and Emerald Automotive. Of course the biggest highlight is the synergy with the co-locating show floors themselves which provides the largest national showcase of its kind available in the UK across these symbiotic high value engineering and technology sectors.

AI: What role do you see LEPs playing in further growing UK’s automotive sector?

As successors to the former UK regional development agencies, LEP’s are a key focus for this year’s group of events. We are seeing quite specific ‘automotive’, ‘low carbon vehicle’ and ‘advanced engineering’ programmes and commitments being rolled out by LEP groups nationwide. Advancement of the automotive sector requires coordinated ‘local’ and ‘regional’ efforts, to ensure that inward investment into the region is supported by supply chain and skills development. LEP’s will feature centrally in these processes as intersection points between key industry groups, academia, local government and so on. This year’s event includes daily ‘Meet the LEP’s’ feature open sessions where a cross section of UK recently formed LEP’s will talk about progressive initiatives being developed within their own specific regions, to support the growth of the advanced engineering sector

AI: How do the other three events running concurrently with the Automotive Engineering show tie in with each other?

Firstly AERO ENGINEERING 2012 represents the UK’s only 100% dedicated show for the aero structures, propulsion and systems engineering supply chains. Technology, capability and supplier transfer between these two primary UK industry sectors is a key factor in co-location. The opportunity to look over the shoulder at best practice and technology, process, capability and applications initiatives from your counterparts in another key high value engineering vertical industry groups creates a very unique dynamic in this event. Add to that the opportunity for attendees to make unplanned contact with technology and supplier options outside of already ‘established’ natural supply chains, and this provides a perfect synergy.
Secondly : The COMPOSITES ENGINEERING SHOW as the preeminent event in the UK composites materials engineering calendar , is already widely attended by the UK’s Automotive & Motorsport industries, reflecting the importance of this key stream of materials engineering to these sectors’ on-going ‘lightweighting’ and low carbon vehicle agendas.

Thirdly: The UK Plastic Electronics Show , which covers the breakthrough technology of printed flexible electronics, is already beginning to find applications in the Automotive industry such as novel interior lighting, photovoltaic and sensor devices – benefiting from its flexible form, low weight and high efficiencies.

It is important therefore to see the introduction of the brand new annual UK AUTOMOTIVE ENGINEERING show this year as adding a specialised Automotive Engineering technology and supply chain showcase into an already highly synergetic line up of collocating shows, which already enjoys high levels of Automotive industry participation.

AI: What are some of the breakthroughs in plastics that will be highlighted at this year’s Advanced Engineering event? How will it impact the automotive industry?

Materials is the common denominator running across all of the co-locating shows –with thermoplastic materials, thermoset materials, elastomers and composites materials, process and capability featuring throughout the show floor and supporting programmes. Plastics in Automotive is increasingly critical in the quest for ever more lightweight, energy efficient vehicles , at the same time being key to developments in vehicle safety, performance and comfort. The UK’s capability in the ‘plastics’ sector needs to support the vehicle design and build ambitions of both high volume and niche ultra low carbon segments. The show floor this year includes suppliers providing plastic injection moulded products and assemblies, reinforced plastics design and processing, engineering & high performance plastics component development, engineering plastic materials, metal replacement, thermoplastic moulding solutions, thermoplastic composites, impact and safety testing, plastic ‘flexible’ electronics and more. Of course the co-location of the ‘composites engineering ‘show ensure that materials specialists benefit from a huge representation particularly in the reinforced materials sector.

AI: Tell us a little about the kind of participation you expect at this year’s Advanced Engineering UK event – how will it be different from previous years’ shows? How many visitors do you expect and from where?

This year’s Advanced Engineering UK group of events is already tracking well ahead of last year on pre-registration levels – not surprisingly given that the event achieved a circa 7,000 attendance, and the inaugural automotive engineering show, as a brand new component, is driving a huge increase in visitor badge pre-registration levels building from primes and tier partners and supporting supplier groups up and down the volume and niche vehicle industries. With some 450+ UK and international exhibitors this year, some 50 hours of parallel free-to-attend expert presentations and tutorials and optional business intelligence programmes, the event provides a unique festival of innovation and capability supporting both automotive and general advanced engineering sectors. We are anticipating a strong growth again on visitor numbers as well as the diversity of attendee groups and organisations, from home and abroad.

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