Established in 2016, Automechanika, based at the NEC in Birmingham, is the UK’s largest automotive aftermarket trading event.
The tradeshow, which offers exhibitors a platform to showcase the latest in automotive products and technology for the aftermarket and supply chain, hosted over 12,000 visitors in it’s opening year. After the success of the first show, Automechanika 2017 promised to be bigger and better; spread across more halls with longer opening hours and a new, dedicated supply chain zone.
Keen to see this for ourselves, we left our digs in the heart of Yorkshire and travelled down to the black country to check it out.
Automechanika was everything it promised to be and more.
As a first-time visitor, I was startled by the immense size and scale of the show. I was instantly immersed in a world of cutting-edge technology. Some stands were particularly impressive. Valeo’s for instance – which took the form of a cargo lorry – contained a transparent model car with illuminated components, which was a creative approach to conveying the functions of their products.
Admittedly I’m no automotive buff, but I managed to identify a few key market trends; robotic automation, for example. There were robots everywhere. In an industry where the biggest drivers are quality, capacity and safety, robotic automation is certainly set to become more prevalent. Whilst this will benefit the industry in term of its output, it does raise concerns over employment, as automation replaces manual labour.
As a result, the industry needs to future-proof workforce training and skills development, to prepare for a very different manufacturing environment than that in operation today.
Another key feature of Automechanika was electric cars. Our client, Total UK, showcased a Formula E all-electric racing car. It’s sleek design and pristine paintwork gave their stand a big visual impact and helped them to draw in large crowds.
The benefits of electric cars to our society are obvious; they pollute far less than internal combustion engines whilst using less energy. Again, as with robotic automation, this advance in technology will undoubtedly inflict changes on the market. Once more, training and developing staff is key here, and workshops need to be proactive as cars evolve at a fast pace and utilise more advanced electronics. It will be interesting to see how the aftermarket adapts to this skills-gap in years to come.
What is clear, however, despite the obvious challenges the automotive industry faces, is that its future is certain to be electric.
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