Ever-expanding Total

David Harrison, acting chief operating officer, PPMA Group of Associations, tells Packaging Scotland what visitors can expect from this year’s PPMA Total Show

Q) Why should people visit PPMA Total Show 2019? 

A) PPMA Total Show is the largest showcase of processing equipment and packaging machinery in the UK this year. There are plenty of working exhibits to see and, collectively, the show brings together the largest gathering of experts in the field in the past ten years.

Because of the size of this year’s show, which will occupy the whole of hall five (the largest of the exhibition halls) at the NEC, visitors are able to find out even more about latest innovations to enhance product changeover and increase productivity.

One area, amongst others, of particular interest is sure to be around artificial intelligence (AI) and the integration of vision equipment and robotics into the existing production lines. This is helping to put more companies in the UK at the forefront of manufacturing.

Q) Any new features being added?

A) PPMA Total Show 2019 has retained all of the features from last year’s esteemed PPMA Show. This year, though, the show will include new ‘Find The Expert’ information points around the exhibition floor, plus a manned booth within the Enterprise Zone to help guide visitors to exhibitors providing impartial information relating to a piece of equipment or component part.

Prior to this year’s show, exhibitors will be asked if they are able to put forward an expert to answer questions on one or more subject matters to enhance visitors’ knowledge and enable them to make an informed decision. The show team will compile a list of potential questions and subject areas, which the exhibitor can tick to confirm that they are both happy and able to assist it. Visitors will then be directed to the appropriate exhibitor stand(s), who will be primed and on-hand to assist.

In addition to ‘Find The Expert’, the show will also house a full-scale model of the 135,000 bhp jet and rocket powered Bloodhound supersonic car, which is aiming to break the Land Speed Record in the next two years.Visitors will have the opportunity to learn more about one of the most advanced aerodynamic and engineering projects of the 21st century and how Bloodhound SSC Education, a registered charity, is inspiring a generation to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Q) Any news regarding first-time exhibitors or previous exhibitors returning after an absence?

A) At PPMA Total Show 2019 we will see 250 exhibitors who attended last year’s PPMA Show, plus 100 who have not exhibited for the past five years – in fact, the majority of these companies are exhibiting for the first time.

Q) How does this event stand out in what is a busy events calendar?

A) PPMA Total Show 2019 will be the largest annual gathering of processing and packaging equipment and service providers in the UK since 2007. With well over 400 exhibitors and working machinery on display, anyone serious about investing in processing and packaging equipment would be well advised to attend the show between 1-3 October.

In the advent of Brexit and the need to remain current, it’s important for companies to continually invest in the future and enhance their operational efficiencies. 

Q) What benefits can winning a PPMA Award have for a business?

A) A PPMA Award is an industry accolade judged by senior end-users and other important figureheads from within the processing and packaging industry. It’s impartial recognition from your peers to highlight your success, which always generates extra publicity and associated brand awareness within the industry’s trade magazines. 

There are 12 Awards categories this year, ranging from most innovative technologies in processing, packaging, robotics, vision systems and ancillary equipment, to achievements in sales, export and the environment. The ‘Apprentice of the Year’ Award serves to acknowledge the most promising young talent within the processing and packaging, robotics and automation and industrial vision industries. Companies that have developed a comprehensive apprenticeship or training programme have the opportunity to be recognised too through the PPMA BEST Award.

All entries will be judged by a panel of eight independent industry experts, including academia, end-users, editors and engineers.

Q) What can you tell us about the conference content and speaker line-up for this year?

A) Creating a forum for education, knowledge-sharing and debate, the PPMA Total Show conference programme, held in the Enterprise Zone, will provide visitors with insightful commentary and thought-provoking content. The free to attend conference will run over the first two days of the show and offer visitors a focal point for discovery and live debate. 

Featuring experts from IKEA, the British Plastics Federation and The Sunday Times, this year’s first-class, industry responsive conference programme will focus on some of the key issues facing modern manufacturing, including Brexit, serialisation and packaging design, as well as tackling the debate surrounding sustainability and the circular economy.

Case studies, panel discussions and presentations will provide visitors with real examples of best practice manufacturing and excellence in processing and packaging production, aiming to motivate and inspire visitors to develop their businesses.

Q) What do you expect the key themes and major talking points to be?

A) Uncertainty around the current political climate has resulted in people reverting to the sound basics of business economics and principles – sticking to what they know.  It’s comes down to the adage that we can speculate, but you can’t mitigate for what you can’t predict in what is a fluid political situation.

There’s always a need for companies to increase their bottom line. More and more, business owners are looking at industrial vision and robot capability to help improve their production lines.

Q) Why do you think this event has grown and been so successful over the years?

A) PPMA shows are run by the industry for the industry.  Events are focused on what’s relevant today, placing machinery and innovation at the heart of the exhibition. This is complemented by a rich speaker and seminar programme.

Q) How important is it to keep freshening up the show?

A) It’s about being current and listening to members’ feedback.  It’s also about being able to look vertically, which is why there’s a greater focus on industrial vision and automation at this year’s show in the advent of artificial intelligence (AI).

Q) What advice do you have for exhibitors to help them stand out?

A) Working machinery is always an attraction on a stand. It’s also advisable to have clear stand displays to help showcase a range of products; as is having someone on hand for a visitor to talk to.

It goes without saying that every exhibitor will benefit from having a clear marketing strategy pre-show to drive visitors to their stands, in conjunction with the PPMA own considerable marketing activities.  Both are complementary to driving footfall.

• PPMA Total Show will be held at the Birmingham NEC from October 1-3.

David Harrison