MACH 2022, the largest display of new machinery and manufacturing technologies under one roof in the UK for four years, lived up to its billing as a major catalyst for investment with scores of exhibitors reporting strong sales and positive interest in their products during the five-day event at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre.

And in a shot-in-the-arm for both the manufacturing industry and the exhibition itself, MACH organiser, the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA) has reported that advance sales for the 2024 event have set a new record, with manufacturers keen to exploit the opportunities created at the 2022 show.

James Selka, CEO, MTA said: “Given all the problems in the run-up to the exhibition – the pandemic, ongoing supply chain disruption, mounting cost pressures and international conflicts – we have been absolutely delighted with the reaction to the show and the positive feedback we have received from exhibitors.

“As the MTA had predicted before the show, despite extraneous pressures we had detected a willingness amongst manufacturers to invest in new equipment and technologies, and this proved to be the case. The Government said in its Spring Statement in March that investment remains a key driver of productivity growth and that by adding to the economy’s capital stock and improving the skills of the workforce, the economy can produce more with the same input from workers.

“This aligns with the MTA’s own view that investment in machinery and improved skills have consistently delivered higher productivity levels down the years and will continue to do so. It is gratifying to be proved right and we thank everyone who supported MACH 2022 for their show of faith. Our hope now is that the industry can build on the momentum created and go from strength to strength.”

Although final figures are still being collated, footfall at MACH 2022 is predicted to be largely in line with the last live event in 2018. This despite the footprint of the show being reduced. One encouraging sign was that the number of visitors per square metre of exhibition space was up on 2018.

While there was an absence of some international visitors caused by the lingering effects of the pandemic, the levels of business transacted at the show, while still being calculated, is expected to be significant, with many exhibitors reporting strong sales as a result of appearing at the show.

“A further indication of the newfound confidence surrounding the manufacturing technologies sector is that the MTA has sold more advance exhibition space for 2024 than for any preceding MACH event,” said Mr Selka.

“This is a significant development and underlines how important the MACH exhibition is to the industry and at a time when cost pressures on business are significant, such a show of support sends out a very positive message.”

MACH 2024 takes place at the NEC in Birmingham between 15-19 April 2024.

What the industry had to say

Alan Mucklow, managing director, UK & national distributor sales, Yamazaki Mazak UK said: “I always say that engineers like to get out and kick the tyres and there is no better opportunity to get up close with the latest machines than at MACH.

“This year’s show was a clear demonstration that the trade show is not only alive and well, but also an important date in the calendar for the machine tool industry and the wider manufacturing sector. We took the opportunity to successfully launch two new UK manufactured machines and the feedback from customers and prospects was extremely positive. I would like to thank the MTA for organising a fantastic show that delivered for exhibitors and visitors alike.”

Nigel Atherton, managing director, XYZ Machine Tools said the company had concluded business worth £2.4 million during the show with hopes this would increase, building on a record month in March.

“We had little idea of how MACH would go, with people still anxious about COVID and the level of sales in March made us think that attendance at the show may be poor, with people ordering machines instead of visiting the show,” he commented.

“How wrong we were. From day one our stand was busy and the level of enquiries and new orders resulting from the week are very encouraging and indicate that April will be an even better month than March.”

Colin Thomson, sales director, Dugard said: “Both our UK sales and technical teams and our technical partners from overseas had some very constructive conversations that resulted in several machine sales. Equally encouraging is the level of interest and direction that some of these meetings took at MACH. We fully expect to generate several additional sales in the months following the show.

“Having face to face meetings with colleagues, friends, technology partners and even competitors after the challenges of the pandemic was a genuine delight. No level of marketing activity can exceed the anticipation and buzz that MACH creates in the marketplace. It was great to be back, and we are already planning a larger stand space for MACH 2024.”

Tony Dale, CEO, Mills CNC said: “We’ve had a great MACH show – the best in the company’s history. It seemed as though we were busy as soon as the doors opened on the Monday and that things didn’t quiet down until late Friday afternoon.

“We spent a significant amount of time and resource making sure that MACH 2022 was an event to remember, and we are delighted that our attendance was such a resounding success and that our stand proved to be so popular.”

David Waghorn, managing director Hurco said: “MACH 2022 was our busiest ever. Logged visitors to the stand, new contacts and quotation requests were all up by 25% compared to MACH 2018.”

Tony Nolloth, UK & Ireland sales manager, Citizen Machinery UK enthused: “Sales to the value of around £500,000 were taken at MACH, but we are confident that this amount will be at least trebled when show follow ups have been completed.”

James Watson, Key Account Manager at Renishaw said: “The re-scheduling of MACH 2020 was challenging for us all. Having an opportunity to finally take part in a large UK exhibition again, reconnect with manufacturers and to display alongside industry suppliers and close partners, was a welcome one.”

Chris Hellyer, sales director, Sodi-Tech added: “As I mentioned during the show, it was a huge mistake by our competition not to exhibit this year. After a four year break I think the exhibition was well supported by all customers in the engineering industry in an attempt to get back to normal.

“Everyone seemed keen to shake hands and get back to face-to-face dialogue. We had a great show, meeting plenty of existing customers as well as more than our fair share of new faces as well. It’s down to my sales team now to convert those visitors into customers.”

Tony Pennington, managing director, Ceratizit UK & Ireland said: “Tool vending is becoming ever more popular and at MACH we saw the interest in what our system can bring to customers increase dramatically. As a result of enquiries at the show we have ordered an additional 20 TOM 840 units, doubling what we already had on order. These will join the 500 plus units already out with customers.”

Jonathan Smart, managing director, NCMT affirmed: “It was very rewarding to see how successful and well attended MACH 2022 was, both for the MTA and NCMT after a tough couple of years. The amount of interest generated on our stand from new and existing customers is an encouraging sign that the industry is returning to post-pandemic levels of activity.”

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