Plastic cups in bars are usually reserved for match days and gigs, but they were out in full force at the bar opposite the Manufacturing Management Show (MMS) at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry on 22-23 November.

The staff pulling the pints must have been given the heads-up about the success of MMS last year, where more than 1,000 industry professionals descended on Coventry and came away beaming with delight, and the fact that so many more industry professionals would be returning for another successful show.

Once again, industry leaders flocked to sample the show’s promise of free best practice advice on all aspects of successful manufacturing management, under one roof. Delegates had the pick of visiting an exhibition area featuring more than 50 leading industry suppliers; dropping in on one of 18 practical workshops; or sampling a keynote conference programme. The latter featured 12 case study-led presentations on the path to manufacturing excellence and covered areas from engagement to digitalisation.

A world-class conference programme
The conference began with Jon Evans, head of F-35 operations at BAE Systems, who delivered a case study on how the company involves its employees at its Samlesbury site, in a push to produce one of the state-of-the-art fighter jets per day.

Next up, in a packed conference hall, was David Fox, chief and chairman of PP Control & Automation, who took a stance on cultivating excellence and the importance of workforce engagement, explaining the so-called ‘ABC approach’ to spotting talent in your workforce, and the impact it has had on the company.

Dr Lina Huertas of the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry focused on what opportunities digitalisation will bring to manufacturers.

Other conference speakers who shared their expertise throughout the first day included Peter Winebloom of EEF, Llewelyn Mullooly of Lloyds Bank, Michael Horan of Liberty Performance Steels, and Neil Lewin of Festo. Lewin explored some of the ‘people challenges’ that Industry 4.0 will bring and identified how the right training and leadership skills can help pave the path of least resistance.

“We can get very sceptical about the technology around Industry 4.0,” he explained. “However, it has the potential to expand the knowledge base of your workforce, which is a huge opportunity for manufacturing.”

Opening the conference on day two was Trevor Stacey, operations director of Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) in Sidcup, who described the “well-drilled” routines and standards at CCEP and some of the visual management tools used to support them on the site’s continuous improvement journey.

CI was also the theme for consultant Tim Pryce, who demonstrated how the perfect team should run as ‘electrons’, orbiting around the ‘nucleus’ of the management team.

Following this, Lee Sotherby and Danny Clews of British Steel described how the Teesside Beam Mill boosts production without increasing costs.

Finishing off the day – and the entire show – was a Mock Health & Safety trial, hosted by Laura Page (below right), from law firm Pinsent Mason. Designed as an interactive roleplay scenario, delegates acted as the jury in a court case and had to decide, based upon information given by actors, whether the general manager of a manufacturing company was guilty or not guilty after his employee was hit by a forklift truck. As well as taking part, delegates also got to learn first-hand how a court case normally plays out and some helpful safety tips. For the record, the defendant was found unanimously guilty, and was slapped with a £100,000 fine.

Hands-on workshops
As well as a packed conference hall, there were also a range of packed workshop sessions over the two-day event.
Workshop Theatre One featured companies including 123Insight, which took a focus on ERP systems, The Delos Partnership, which focused on world-class manufacturing in a post-Brexit world, and Toyota Material Handling on Toyota’s legendary Three Ts approach to manufacturing.

Over in Workshop Theatre Two, delegates got to learn how to make lean work through visual management thanks to Clarity Visual Management, and how companies can uncover the ‘nuggets’ of information hidden within their business data thanks to EntaData.
Workshop Theatre Three also featured top names from Brammer UK, Swinton Business Insurance, the University of Sunderland and the SOE.

Innovative exhibitors
What else makes a show? The extensive exhibitor list of course. This is a chance for attending delegates to find new suppliers and products, and solve issues they may be having at the workplace.

Well, MMS didn’t disappoint as exhibitors from every nook and cranny within the manufacturing sector arrived to promote their services and products, including IT companies, forklift makers, health & safety companies and maintenance companies, to name a few.

Not only did exhibitors meet clients and make a wealth of new contacts, but some even entered the newly launched MMS Innovation Award. Judges, which comprised of conference speakers, event organisers, and Manufacturing Management editorial staff, met all the entries to find out more about their innovation, and score them accordingly. And, at the close of day one, the winners were revealed (see next page).