General Engineering
Two shows deliver double the opportunities

The show, which is held in alternate years in either Melbourne or Sydney, attracted more than 11,000 people to the Melbourne Convention centre last month.
Among the exhibitors was Duncan George, MD at Precision Components. He says the firm came away with 10 “strong leads” from its first appearance at the Austech show, which closed on 10 May following the event’s four-day run.
“Business around Victoria is pretty depressed at the moment – for manufacturing – but we did okay,” says Duncan.
“We don’t go to the show every year as an exhibitor, but we always go as a punter to see what’s going on. Depending on how well the leads we picked up pan out will determine if we take part in the Sydney exhibition next year – but it’s looking good.”
Clint Bold, factory manager at Kinetic Engineering & Design, says the show was a good branding exercise for the firm’s plasma cutting machines.
“We had two-and-a-half really busy days,” he says. “We got some positive leads, but for us, being at the show is not about generating business – it’s a show of power.
“Being there, being present, being big at the show…people see that the company is strong and they get to see our product.
“Everybody knows us, they just need to be re-assured in these tough times that the company is stable.”  
Clint says there is a question mark over his firm taking part in the Austech 2014 show in Sydney. He says due to a lack of accommodation for visitors, the proposed Olympic Park venue is not as good as the Darling Harbour venue, where the show used to be held.
“We could do an awful lot of advertising for the cost of taking part in Sydney,” he says.
Exhibition director Shane Infanti says while show organiser, the Australian Manufacturing Institute, realise the economic climate is difficult, he hoped there had been enough interest stimulated at the show to “create activity in the market place over the coming months”.
“The exhibitors addressed every conceivable aspect of how to make things smarter, assisting manufacturers to deploy appropriate technology, connect to providers of systems, and processes in an effort to optimise efficiency, quality and costs,” he says.
“One of the most noticeable buzzwords during the show was certainly additive manufacturing and 3D printing, and visitors to the dedicated Digital & Additive pavilion kept exhibitors busy.
There were several activities and new initiatives that kept the floor buzzing throughout the event. Among them was the Manufacturers’ pavilion, which featured presentations from industry experts discussing the possibilities of improving manufacturers’ competitiveness through research, innovation and technology.
“The Manufacturers’ pavilion is a welcome addition to Austech and enables manufacturers to showcase their capabilities not only to the general audience but also targeted VIPs within key supply chains,” says Infanti.
Speaking at a panel session with other advanced manufacturing industry partners at the Manufacturers’ pavilion, Bruce Grey, managing director of the Advanced Manufacturing CRC, says Austech is the only show specifically targeted at capital equipment in the advanced manufacturing sector.
“As such, it offers an opportunity to see what’s being achieved, but also to talk about the right ways to commercialise technology,” he says.
Among the exhibitors at National Manufacturing Week – which is held in the same room as Austech – was Auckland firm CMI Springs, a company that makes components for the whiteware, automotive and engineering firms.
Its disappointed sales & marketing manager Ross Mitchell says he only experienced one busy day at the event.
“We saw fewer people than we had hoped with only one day being a good one out of the four,” he says. “The other three were a little bit quiet.
“I think there were a lot of engineers there, but not enough buyers from the industries we were looking for. We had a few reasonable enquiries, but lots of tiny ones – which was not quite what we were after.”
CMI Springs has a representative in Melbourne and was hoping its first appearance at the show would generate some extra orders from Aussie firms.
“Because we make components we really needed buyers to be there, and although there might have been a handful them, it seems they were looking more at the heavy machinery products.”
Geir Knudsen of Supreme Steel Products returned to the show following a 10-year absence and says he is “pretty happy” with the contacts the firm made with buyers.
“Overall we are pretty happy with how the event went for us,” he says. “There weren’t too many time-wasters or tyre kickers, so it was a better event than I thought it was going to be.
“We don’t tend to pick orders up on the spot, but we came away with some very good leads. But there were more design engineers than buyers at the show.”
Reed Exhibitions, organizers of National Manufacturing Week, say highlights of the event was the Metals and Composites Product Zone – introduced to Melbourne visitors for the first time – and which attracted industry figures keen to examine new manufacturing materials.
The event also introduced the Solutions Theatre, a dedicated space on the exhibition floor with a rolling programme of presentations from exhibitors and broader industry experts.
Among presentations was a panel discussion on solutions for boosting the manufacturing industry, which reviewed challenges for manufacturers operating in a high-cost environment.
Above all, says Paul Baker, National Manufacturing Week 2013 exhibition director, the common thread in feedback is that visitors attend the show to see, touch and hear about new technologies.
National Manufacturing Week 2014 will be between May 13 and 16 in Sydney, and will be held alongside with Austech and the triennial Ausplas exhibition.

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