Drives & Controls Exhibition 2016 - NEWS

Industrial robot technology area takes centre stage at Drives & Controls Exhibition 2016

The biennial Drives & Controls Exhibition & Conference, co-located alongside; Plant and Asset Management, European Offshore Energy, Fluid Power & Systems, and Air-Tech Exhibitions- is once again set to return to Birmingham's NEC (Halls 3/3A) from 12-14th April 2016, alongside MACH 2016 and National Electronics Week 2016. Collectively the exhibitions will be the largest manufacturing and engineering events of 2016, and will create an unmissable event.

With only weeks to go until the biennial Drives & Controls Exhibition & Conference returns to the NEC as part of the co-location of events which also includes; Plant & Asset Management Exhibition, European Offshore Energy, Air-Tech and Fluid Power & Systems Exhibitions, show organiser DFA Media is excited about the prospects for the upcoming events.

Industrial robot technology area
The Drives & Controls Exhibition & Conference will, for the first time, also include a dedicated area where some of the latest industrial robot technology will be demonstrated. Interest in robotics is growing rapidly as prices come down and capabilities increase. The technology is moving ahead incredibly quickly and the show organiser believes the time is right for a robotics demonstration area at the event.

The demo has attracted many big names including: ABB Robotics, Applied Engineering, B&R, Harmonic Drive AG, Mitsubishi, Universal Robot, RA Rodriguez, Staubli, Active8 Robots Ltd.

The UK has been accused of lagging behind the rest of the world in the widespread uptake of robotic technology. Companies such as Harmonic Drive says it intends to support efforts by both Drives & Controls 2016 and government investments by offering products, advice and support to drive the growth of the industry as a whole.

Graham Mackrell, managing Director of Harmonic Drive UK commented: "We're also starting to see drive from the Government's RAS 2020 initiative to boost the robotics and autonomous systems sector in the UK and the £400 million investment in innovation. This investment will see an upswing in things like collaborative robot technology as well as more advanced medical robots.

"Collaborative robots are designed to work alongside the human workforce, and to ensure they meet evolving International Standards Organisation (ISO) criteria as well as being responsive enough to react should they cross paths with a person. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) need to ensure the drives and gears they choose can perform reliably."

There will be several examples of the new generation of "collaborative" robots at The Drives & Controls Exhibition - or "cobots" - designed to operate safely alongside human workers, without needing a protective cage.

For example, robots from the Danish cobot pioneer, Universal Robots, will be demonstrated by the company's UK distributor, RA Rodriguez.

New robot arrivals
Yaskawa, is one of the latest exhibitors to sign up. As well as sharing a large stand with its Vipa controls subsidiary, Yaskawa will also take part in the show's robot demonstration zone. Another new arrival in this zone is Baxter, the two-armed collaborative robot developed by US-based Rethink Robotics. Baxter, which has a distinctive "face" display, will be demonstrated by Rethink's UK distributor, Active8 Robots.

Also showing some of its robots will be Mitsubishi Electric (in addition to its main stand). The robotics area is now almost full.

The growing importance of robots will also be emphasised within the free seminar programme with presentations covering topics such as dispelling the risks, fears and unknowns of modem day robotics; as well looking into the trend for removing the guarding from robotic cells, and understanding the practical advantages and disadvantage of robotic applications and what the physical, practical, technical and regulatory constraints can be. While Mike Wilson of BARA will present a paper on the 'Why robots are key to the future of UK manufacturing'.

Drives & Controls Exhibition & Conference
Drives & Controls Exhibition & Conference 2016 will again bring together key suppliers of state-of-the-art equipment representing the multi-tasking culture of today's design engineer, covering critical areas such as energy efficiency, machine safety, drives, motion control, robotics and automation plus much more, all under one roof.

With a rush of new companies booking stands, it is anticipated that the 2016 show will cover at least 50% more floor space than in 2014 with a prediction of at least 50 more exhibitors in Drives & Control alone. It is apparent that there is a diverse range of automation companies of all sizes supporting the event.

The new bookings include many first-time exhibitors - as well as companies that haven't attended the event for many years. Among the newcomers are: Applied Automation, which will be taking part in the robotics demonstration area as well as having its own stand; Cornelius Electronics, a Welsh producer of cable assemblies and manufacturing systems; the electrical equipment specialist, Mersen; the energy and automation supplier, Lovato Electric; the measurement and controls vendor, Techni Measure; the small motors specialist, Portescap; the chain manufacturer, Ramsey Chain, which was established in the US more than 90 years ago and has a UK base in Wales; ABB's low-voltage division, ABB Controls; the enclosures supplier, Fibox; and the Haley Group.
In addition the co-location's growing international status is now firmly established and can be gauged from the number of exhibitors arriving from as far afield as China, India and the US. Recent sign-ups from abroad include the Turkish controlgear and electrical equipment manufacturer, EMAS, the French belt specialist, Hutchinson (which will be appearing on the pavilion organised by the European Power Transmission Distributors Association), the Italian motor-maker, Carpanelli Motori Elettrici, and Apex Dynamics, a planetary gearbox manufacturer whose headquarters are in the US.

Among the many companies that have signed up recently to return to the Drives & Controls Exhibition following successful appearances at previous shows are: Delta Line; Automation Experts; Principle Engineering; WEG Electric Motors; Kormag; Danfoss Drives; Semikron; Phoenix Contact; Beijer Electronics; and Vacon (which will be appearing on the Gambica pavilion).

Several new overseas exhibitors have joined the line-up in recent weeks, including the Indian motor manufacturer, Rotomag, the Swiss firm Technosoft, which specialises in small motors and drives, and the Chinese business, Shandong Sound Metals & Machinery, whose wide-ranging portfolio includes tools and machining equipment.

Seminars taken to a new level
The free 2016 seminar and conference programme running alongside the co-location of exhibitions will be taken to a new level, adding significant value with a more comprehensive speaker programme than ever before, and a strong emphasis on technology, entrepreneurship, skills, regulations, the environment, and safety.
The full programme of free seminars for the co-location, with speakers offering expert insight and practical advice on important and topical issues, will take place across three seminar theatres: The Drives & Controls Seminar Theatre; Fluid Power & Air Seminar Theatre - sponsored by Gardner Denver, and the Maintenance Seminar Theatre - sponsored by Shell Lubricants.

Within the Drives & Controls Seminar Theatre there will be a programme, which brings together all aspects of robotics and automation, energy efficiency, machine safety, drives, motion control, legislation, system strategies and technological developments. Featuring representatives from across industry including government agencies, the EU, research bodies, trade associations, and manufacturers. The Drives & Controls conference programme will focus on practical solutions to real-life industry requirements. For example, GAMBICA's Steve Brambley will be presenting a seminar on future trends - circular economy, Industry 4.0 and EcoDesign, and a panel discussion on trends in the industrial automation sector and what are the influencing factors. Other highlights include: Optimising Energy Consumption in motor driven systems, by Steve Schofield of the BPMA, and a seminar on Driving the future of robotics by Graham Mackrell, Harmonic Drive. UK MTC will also be giving a presentation on Industry 4.0 and the reality for UK industry, while Dr Scott Steedman will be presenting a seminar on 'Technical Standards & the EU in-out referendum.

Industry Entrepreneurship Network (IEN)
New for 2016 - exhibition organiser, DFA Media has teamed up with The Industry Entrepreneurship Network (IEN) to put on a series of three panel discussions during the three-day exhibition, which will run alongside DFA Media's other seminar programme. The three sessions will cover the topics of 'Bridging the skills gap' (chaired by Susan Scurlock, CEO, Primary & Secondary Engineer), 'Financing innovation and entrepreneurship in industry' (chaired by Lee Hopley, Chief Economist, EEF), and 'Developing UK innovation and entrepreneurship', with panels formed from the network's membership of established entrepreneurs, industrial companies and leading UK trade, science, education and engineering organisations.

The Network provides an umbrella framework for a diverse group of organisations, businesses and media to come together and provide high quality outputs that bring together ideas, campaigns, initiatives and expertise for promoting and developing industry entrepreneurship and tackling important associated issues such as STEM education and equality.

IEN is supported by many of the leading trade bodies and membership organisations, including, among many others; Primary Engineer; GAMBICA; IMechE and the EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, as well as other influential thought leaders and influencers.
The IEN is therefore a natural choice to assemble the panels for three high profile forward-looking seminars at DFA Media's co-located events (Drives & Controls, Plant & Asset Management, Air-Tech, Fluid Power & Systems, European Offshore Energy 2016) taking place between the 12-14th April 2016 at the NEC, Birmingham.

Ian Atkinson, DFA Media managing director, commented: "Global initiatives and the technological paradigm shift associated with the Industrial Internet of Things, shows that there is a growing opportunity for industry to take advantage of the creativity and entrepreneurial nature of UK companies. Our seminar programme fully reflects that and will provide a fascinating insight into the workings of the sector."

For regular updates on Drives & Controls Exhibition and for detailed seminar information, please visit the official website:

For regular show updates and to register to attend, please visit the respective official websites:

March 2016

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