Taking place on National Manufacturing Day on Thursday 28 September, the North East Automotive Expo will put a spotlight on skills and technology.

Organised by the North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA), the flagship event for the region’s automotive industry, generates support from major players in the sector along with a strong line up of sponsors and last year welcomed over 700 delegates.

The Technology Showcase area will demonstrate some of the innovative technology being designed  in the region to support the evolution of the automotive sector and companies taking part include Expo sponsors Manosun, Masfix and CMYK, as well as automation and robotics experts ADM Automation (iCart Logistics), Mobile Industrial Robots, Applied Integration, RARUK Automation, Omron Electronics and LC Automation.

Meet the Buyer, which facilitates over 100 one-to-one meetings each year, along with numerous successful supply chain opportunities and awarded projects, will return with support from OEMs including Nissan, Komatsu and Cummins and tier one suppliers, including Nifco UK, Unipres (UK), Envision AESC, Marelli, Faltec Europe, Elring Klinger (GB) and Highly Marelli UK.

Trevor Kelly, Senior Purchasing Engineer at Komatsu UK said: “Komatsu view the Expo as an excellent opportunity to meet in person with local businesses in a relaxed and informal yet professional environment. In addition to making new contacts and strengthening existing partnerships, it provides us with the opportunity to catch up on what is happening within the local industry, discuss current challenges and share ideas which could provide some benefit. We are very proud to support this Expo and see it as an excellent networking opportunity for local business.”

Ben Arthy, Purchasing Manager at Nifco UK said: “Nifco UK take joy in supporting the NEAA Meet the Buyer event each year, it keeps us involved in local supply chains and helps us forge strong connections with fellow industry players. This platform not only allows us to showcase our innovative solutions but also nurtures lasting partnerships with both current and new suppliers.”

Alongside a planned Skills Panel to discuss future skills needs, the NEAA has partnered with Wardley Primary School in Gateshead to showcase its range of robotics. In the last five years, the school has regularly qualified for national finals in both the First Lego League and VEX IQ robotics competitions, which are entered by schools around the world. The NEAA and industry realise the importance of supporting and working with schools to boost the future talent pipeline as the automotive sector competes for skilled people.

The Skills Panel will be chaired by NEAA Chairman, Professor Matt Boyle OBE, who has long been championing skills and innovation in the region. He will be joined by industrialists, providers and policymakers including Ellen Thinnesen, Chief Executive at Education Partnership North East, Howard Slater, Director of Engineering at Curtis Instruments, Alison Maynard, Deputy Principal New College Durham and Chair of North East Institute of Technology (NEIoT) and Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership.

Matt Boyle OBE, Chair of the NEAA said: “A pipeline of skilled entrants into the sector is essential as we face up to the challenges of Net Zero, competitiveness and changes in supply chains. It has never been more important to understand our needs and invest strongly our future workforce.”

The NEAA is working with many repeat supporters of the Expo, including Sunderland City Council, Invest South Tyneside, TR Fastenings, Manosun, Masfix, Ekobox, ThinkPrime, Smart Manufacturing Technology, SMS Technology, CMYK and Horizon Works. New to the line-up of sponsors is Theorem Solutions, whose enterprise software solutions enable efficient and compliant optimisation and preparation of 3D CAD and PLM data for the engineering and manufacturing sectors. New NEAA member, SOS Industrial Ltd, has come onboard as refreshments sponsor and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership will support as stage sponsor.

Paul Butler, CEO at the NEAA said: “The Expo is an industry highlight for many of our automotive companies who come together to not only learn more about what is happening in the industry, but make new connections, reignite old ones and participate in vital supply chain networking across the sector. We are delighted to be hosting a varied and topical agenda this year which will put technology in the spotlight and the skills needed to drive forward innovation.”