PPMA Total Show 2016: A Q&A with Group Exhibition Manager David Harrison

A great opportunity for businesses to get their brand, products and equipment in front of a high profile audience and celebrate the innovation that the industry has to offer

Q: The PPMA Total Show is back. What makes the Total Show different from the PPMA Show?

A: PPMA Total Show 2016 is set to return to the Birmingham NEC this September for the first time in its history, moving from its usual spring slot. More than 300 exhibitors are already signed up to exhibit at the 2016 event, making it bigger than the last PPMA Total Show in 2014.

David Harrison

Total 2016 exhibition differs from the PPMA Show as it incorporates the PPMA, Pakex and Interphex brands. It will open its doors to a wide range of materials, containers and packaging design companies, as well as playing host to companies specialising in pharmaceutical manufacturing equipment and engineering solutions. The PPMA Total Show aims to provide businesses across the packaging design and pharmaceutical sectors with an unrivalled opportunity to reach the right decision makers and showcase precisely how their solutions can address a number of particular packaging and processing challenges.

Q: What are the major issues being discussed at the PPMA Total Exhibition?

A: The PPMA Total Show 2016 will play host to an extensive seminar programme at this year’s show with visitors invited to join experts from GS1, Campden BRI, The International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering, Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and Mondelez International, who will speak about the latest industry trends and hottest issues impacting processing and packaging professionals.

One of the hottest topics up for discussion is the skills gap and the future of manufacturing. Emma McLeod, Principal Engineer for Process Solutions Global Chocolate R&D Team, Mondelez International, will give an inspiring, accurate and up-to-date insight into the opportunities in engineering in the largest industry in the UK.

Emma will discuss her own career starting as a factory process engineer through to commissioning new lines to her current role in global research and development. More specifically, she will discuss how Mondelez are approaching the skills gap ranging from capturing knowledge from experienced employees before they retire to mentoring young engineers from the beginning of their career to build their skills quickly to become chartered professional engineers.

Q: Why is tackling the skills gap so important to the manufacturing industry?

A: The skills gap is still one of the major issues affecting the manufacturing industry. According to business group EEF, three quarters of companies say they have faced difficulties finding the right employees in the last 3 years.

The skills shortage is putting productivity growth at risk and adding to pressure on manufacturers as they battle a host of challenges in domestic and overseas markets. The struggle to find the right people with the right skills is compounding the recent news from the manufacturing sector that it has slumped into recession in the face of tough export markets. It this therefore hugely important that the skills gap is addressed as soon as possible.

Q: What is the PPMA Group doing to help?

A: The PPMA Group has established the PPMA BEST (Business Education, Skills and Training) charity. It was created in 2014 to encourage young people to enter and develop a career in engineering within the processing, packaging, robotics, automation and industrial vision industries through education, training and support.

PPMA BEST is currently funded by the PPMA Group of Associations for the benefit of the industry and member companies with the primary aim of addressing the on-going skills shortage and tackling short and longer term recruitment needs.

Q: What programmes does PPMA BEST offer and what age groups does PPMA BEST cater for?

A:PPMA BEST offers four programmes to a variety of age groups to encourage young people to enter and develop a career in engineering ranging from financial grants to match funded bursaries.

For example, the Engineering Apprenticeship Awards offer a financial grant to support companies who may not have previously employed an apprentice. PPMA BEST offers a grant to sponsoring companies looking to take on an apprentice. This not only helps the cost of set up but provides a source of advice from experienced manufacturing professionals. It is further supported by grants available directly to the apprentice to support work place learning programmes.

The skills shortage is putting productivity growth at risk

PPMA BEST also looks to encourage and support undergraduates in relevant disciplines to develop the skills and experience they need to address the shortages in our industries. The Engineering Undergraduate Bursaries programme partners undergraduates with a sponsoring company to provide employment experience throughout their studies.

For more than 25 years the PPMA show has brought together buyers and sellers at one of the most visually dynamic exhibitions of the very latest processing and packaging innovations

The penultimate programme is delivered in partnership with The Arkwright Scholarship, targeted at A-Level students. The programme, which has already been hugely successful offers match-funded competitive national scholarships for STEM students. It is designed to identify, inspire and nurture future leaders in engineering and technical design. So far, more than 92% of Arkwright Scholars, from the 3700 scholarships awarded to date, have continued their journeys in engineering Further Education or training; 20 of the UK’s top engineering universities work with the Arkwright Scholarship Trust to deliver this opportunity.

PPMA BEST’s final programme is its match-funded interactive day workshops in secondary schools. Designed to inspire and interest students in STEM subjects, the programme is delivered by our partner the Smallpeice Trust, an independent charity that promotes engineering as a career. In 2014 21,564 young people attended its residential courses and in-school STEM Days. These one day workshops are interactive, involving a design and build project which helps to stimulate problem solving.

Q: Why people should attend/exhibit at the show?

A: The PPMA Total Show brings together buyers and suppliers at one of the most visually dynamic exhibitions showcasing the latest processing and packaging machinery, materials, industrial automation and vision innovations. The show is a great opportunity for businesses to get their brand, products and equipment in front of a high profile audience and celebrate the innovation that the industry has to offer. The 2016 Total Show is not to be missed!