“The Show not only brought all the key role-players and technology partners together towards a common vision, it also inspired emerging engineers”

Global experts at inaugural Advanced Manufacturing show in PE

Examples of technological advancement world-wide at inaugural event

THE 4th industrial revolution is not science fiction. Experts from across the globe affirmed the reality, scope and scale of technological advancement world-wide at the inaugural African Advanced Manufacturing and Composites Show in Port Elizabeth from 6-8 November. This was the biggest ever gathering of additive manufacturing, composites, robotics and VR/AR individuals and companies in the southern hemisphere.

And what a show it was! Delegates, exhibitors, speakers and guests could not have imagined the scale and success of the show. The wide array of things to attend and see made it very difficult to choose – from futuristic virtual reality experiences offered by some exhibitors, to the inaugural awards evening, the choices and subject matter were phenomenal.

Headlining the seminar speaker line-up for the show held at the Nelson Mandela Stadium & Conference Centre were German-based lightweighting giants Dr Michael Effing (Chairman of the Board, Composites Germany) and Dr Michael Emonts, award-winning CEO of the Aachen Centre for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) of RWTH Aachen University.

Addressing aspects of industry 4.0 and its potential to disrupt or change the normal course of business were Disruptas Founder Dr Harry Teifel, Mesopartner Director Dr Shawn Cunningham and Makerspace Foundation CEO Steve Gray.

The event was supported by the national Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)and other industry bodies.Keynote addresses and panel discussions were incorporated into four half-day seminars addressing the themes ‘Strategy And Policy’, ‘Additive Manufacturing (3D printing), Automation and AI’, ‘Future Production Technologies’ and ‘Composites Materials of The Future’.

South African Composites Cluster MD, Andy Radford, was the ‘visionary’ behind the show, which he says was “an essential stepping stone to uniting the country’s stakeholders around a common vision”.

“The Advanced Manufacturing sector is highly fragmented in South Africa. Many associations and industry bodies promote advanced manufacturing but generally there is a lack of integration and awareness of even our own capabilities, which are substantial,’” Radford said.

The show featured four seminars and the 3rd International Conference on Composites, Bio-composites and Nano-composites which ran concurrently with a two-day exhibition, demonstrations, factory tours and the first national awards for advanced manufacturing.

“While manufacturing remains an essential part of South Africa’s economy, contributing around 19% of GDP, our efforts towards advanced manufacturing in South Africa are highly fragmented, but we do have significant pockets of excellence,” Radford said.

“The African Advanced Manufacturing and Composites Show not only brought all the key role-players and technology partners together towards a common vision, it also inspired emerging engineers.

“Three-dimensional printing, lasers, automation, artificial intelligence and drones are exciting tools to encourage a new generation of engineers and scientists but we need to expose them and industry to these technologies and there is no time to waste,” he added.