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Event celebrates North-East engineering and manufacturing
INNOVATION and exports were the buzzwords at the region's leading engineering and manufacturing showcase, which organisers hailed a major success.
The sixth annual Durham Oktoberfest, held yesterday (Thursday) at the Xcel Centre in Newton Aycliffe attracted the maximum capacity of stands and record visitor numbers.
Sylvia Dickinson, business development manager at injection moulding company O F Bell of Bishop Auckland, said the event had gained momentum in recent years and was helping to put North-East manufacturing on the map.
She added: "The mood was very upbeat and we expect to secure at least a couple of deals just from this event.
"The quality of people coming this year - in terms of the companys they represent - was better than ever. There were strong signs that the industry is growing in confidence. Conversations that a year ago were hypothetical are now about projects with real financial backing."
Darren Race, managing director of e4 Learning Solutions and chairman of both South Durham Business Network and South Durham Engineering and Manufacturing Forum, said: "There has been a huge buzz at this year’s event, which has not just been about size, but about quality and promoting the excellent work that is done in both sectors.
"There have been some very good connections made - a lot of existing business relationships have been renewed and a lot of new ones forged.
"As a celebration of all things good in the engineering and manufacturing industries in the North-East I think we can say it has been a huge success."
Main speaker at the event was Pamela Petty, managing director of Ebac which manufactures dehumidifiers and watercoolers at Aycliffe Industrial Park, and has plans to make kitchen white goods.
She said: "Amongst the exhibitors here are some wonderful examples from the regions of things we can make.
"Fabrication, processing, assembly, machining, moulding, crafting – the list is endless. The one thing we all have in common is that we take something, change it and add value.
"The buzz words of today are innovation and export, selling our clever technology and unique designs to the emerging economies."
She added that she was delighted that Ebac was moving into white goods.
"In 346 days we’ll have the first washing machine rolling off the track here in Newton Aycliffe and in 85 days we’ll have the first chest freezer."
The event was organised by North Durham, East Durham and South Durham Engineering and Manufacturing Forums and featured exhibitors such as Hitachi Rail Europe, which is opening a train factory in Aycliffe in 2016.
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