WITH just over a week to go until this year’s EMCON engineering and manufacturing expo, dozens of businesses have already booked to exhibit.

Following the success of last year’s event, which was the last under the previous Durham Oktoberfest moniker before organisers embarked on a major rebrand, companies large and small have snapped up stands, enabling them to market themselves to potential new customers.

And to reflect the growth of the event and organisers’ intentions to catapult the event to an international audience, EMCON has signed up global rail manufacturer Stadler Rail’s UK division as its inaugural headline sponsor.

The event has also been boosted by new gold sponsor RM Manufacturing, part of the Royal Mail Properties and Facilities Solutions Limited, and Jackson Hogg, who are EMCON’s delivery partner.

That, alongside long-term supporter Business Durham which maintains its gold level sponsorship, puts the event in a strong position to grow and attract an even bigger audience of regional and national firms.

David Land, chairman of CDEMN, which organises EMCON, said: “Securing Stadler as our headline sponsor, and Jackson Hogg as our delivery partner, is a real coup and demonstrates just how much the event has grown since launching in 2008.

“As we approach the event, there’s been a real upsurge in bookings as companies from the North-East and beyond book their stands, while there are only a few places left on the second Incubator Zone programme.

“With just days to go, I would urge companies who have not yet booked, either as a fully-fledged exhibitor or as a debutant within the incubator area, to do so now as last year there were companies left disappointed by leaving booking too late.”

The Incubator Zone, which launched at last year’s event and is aimed at County Durham SMEs who have never before exhibited at EMCON, has attracted a diverse range of participants.

The companies include Bishop Auckland-based family-owned precision engineering firm Body Engineering; Ashgarth Engineering from Consett; business coach Gil Devlin from Consett; and training and business support company NCG Solutions from Crook; Newton Aycliffe Workwear Supplies, Beacon 365 and Accurate Labelling Systems, both from Newton Aycliffe; and Peterlee based GEM Training.

Also signed up are Durham-based business solutions company SystemEightyEight and specialist security, risk management company Millbank Solutions and Climate Action North East.

Niall Ash of Ashgarth Engineering, said: “The programme was recommended to me and I felt it really fit with our aims for growth. We want to show people who Ashgarth Engineering is and what we offer our clients, and see the EMCON event as the perfect way for us to achieve this.”

Ben Gilhespy, operations director at CDEMN, said: “The Incubator Zone was a huge draw last year and already the level of interest we’ve seen is huge. Word has certainly spread among the engineering and manufacturing communities that this is the ideal opportunity for firms to meet potential new suppliers and ultimately win work.”

Brian Archer, managing director of Business Durham, said: “EMCON is a proven platform to business growth and is one of the major engineering and manufacturing sector highlights.

“The event plays an important part in the continued growth of these key sectors, enabling companies to showcase their services to some of the biggest companies in the region and beyond, and in many cases secure new contracts which otherwise would not have been possible.”

  • EMCON takes place on Thursday, October 18, at the Xcel Centre in Newton Aycliffe. For more information visit emcon.show.

Liverpool-based Stadler Rail UK, part of the Swiss rail manufacturing group Stadler Rail, is the event’s first ever headline sponsor.

The company decided to the take on the role after exhibiting last year, with the aim of raising its profile within the North-East, and here gives an overview of its UK presence and growth plans.

Q: What kind of a presence does Stadler have in the UK?

A: Today, Stadler employs 170 people in Merseyside, and by the early 2020s, we will deliver a total of 127 trains within the UK. Stadler trains have been running in this market since 2013, when six Variobahn trams entered service on the Croydon Tramlink network. That year, Transport for London ordered four more Variobahns, and these were delivered in 2015. Two years later, we made seven Class 399 Citylink vehicles for the tram network in Sheffield. Stadler’s locomotives of the class 68 and 88, ordered in 2013, are already well established work-horses on the British rail landscape. DRS deploys these engines for its freight business as well as for passenger haul operations within the Chiltern and Scotrail franchises. The class 68 locomotive will soon be brought in as part of the TPE franchise.

Q: Tell us more about your plans to grow in the UK, and specifically the North-East?

A: In February 2017, we signed a contract with Merseytravel to provide 52 trains by 2020 and undertake service and maintenance for 35 years from October 2017. Production of the new trains is now nearing completion, with final assembly set to start at the beginning of October.

In a consortium with Ansaldo STS, Stadler is supplying 17 new trains for the Glasgow Subway, the third oldest underground metropolitan network and the smallest-size underground system in the world. It will be the first time that Stadler’s rolling stock has been part of a driverless underground network.

The 58 trains ordered for the Greater Anglia network are now well underway. Testing is currently taking place and the first train will arrive in the UK for static commissioning this autumn. Trains will start entering service by mid 2019. And finally! In June, KeolisAmey named Stadler the preferred bidder to provide 71 trains for Wales & Borders, with an order of 36 three-car CITYLINK tram-trains and 35 FLIRTs. This fleet will boast high levels of comfort and rely on the latest battery power technology.

Q: You’re the very first EMCON headline sponsor. Tell us more about your involvement with the event?

A: We attended this event last year and were impressed by the quality of the organisation and the calibre of people who we met. This year, we are even keener to get to know more UK suppliers, particularly ones based in the North-East. Likewise, we are eager to raise Stadler’s profile in this region and for people to learn more about who we are what we do.

Q: Will there be supply chain opportunities with Stadler as part of your plans for UK growth?

A: Yes, there will. Stadler has grown significantly in the UK over the last few years, and we now have more suppliers here than ever before. We wish to procure as much as possible from the countries where orders are placed, and the recent contracts we have secured mean that we are now looking for suppliers from this market. A couple of businesses we have recently signed up include Clayton Equipment Company, a locomotive construction firm, and Petards, who are providing us with CCTV and automatic selective door opening systems. Should we be awarded further orders in future, then we are likely to need even more suppliers. If people are interested in doing business with us, we urge them to contact us through our website at https://www.stadlerrail.com/en/meta/supplier