EMCON celebrated its 15th edition on September 14 by welcoming more than 800 people to Rainton Arena in Houghton-le-Spring.

Showcasing engineering and manufacturing companies, capabilities and opportunities in North East England and beyond, EMCON saw 118 exhibitors demonstrate products and services to delegates from the private and public sectors.

And students and apprentices from across North East England were also given the opportunity to meet employers in a special session at the event.

EMCON, which took place at its new home of Rainton Arena, was known as Durham Oktoberfest until 2017 and was previously held at Glow in Newton Aycliffe. It is delivered by Engineering and Manufacturing Network (EMN).

Sectors such as advanced manufacturing, advanced engineering, fabrication, processing, robotics, software, plastics and training were all represented at EMCON.

New initiatives introduced at EMCON 2023 included a Meet The Buyer programme, delivered by UMi, which enabled suppliers to meet face to face with representatives of major national and international organisations including Nissan, Northumbrian Water, Hitachi Rail and SSE.

Delegates were also able to visit a Skills Zone, which focused on linking education with industry, a Digital Zone, which showcased the benefits of digital adoption, an Energy Zone, which focused on energy saving solutions and a Healthcare Zone, which highlighted opportunities and unresolved needs in the healthcare sector that the engineering and manufacturing sector can help with.

In addition, this year EMCON hosted three fringe events, which provide up-to-the-minute industry insights to delegates. These included: Increasing The Size Of Your Talent Pool and Plugging The Leaks, an event hosted with Engineering Together and the Women’s Engineering Society Tyne Tees Cluster: The University of Sunderland’s North East Maintenance Forum; and Shaping Tomorrow’s Supply Chains: Procurement Law Dynamics and ESG Imperatives, which was delivered by Muckle LLP and ICOR Systems.

Ailsa Anderson, Director of Development at EMN, said: “We were absolutely delighted to see such high footfall at EMCON this year in its new home of Rainton Arena.

“It was exciting to see people from all parts of the engineering and manufacturing community swapping experiences and ideas, gaining knowledge and insight and making valuable new connections through the event. This is heart and soul of EMN!

“With many businesses facing challenges over energy costs, recruitment and retention, and supply chain disruption, it’s more important than ever to bring engineering and manufacturing companies together to help each other solve problems, discover new opportunities and grow. EMCON provides an environment where this can happen and in the long term, contributes to creating a better future for our region.”

David Land, Chairman of EMN, added: “We were thrilled to see the diverse range of innovative businesses exhibiting at EMCON 2023, which is testimony to the vibrancy and strength of North East England’s engineering and manufacturing sector.

“Once again, the event was a true showcase of talent and expertise – a place where SMEs could promote their products and capabilities, and where larger businesses could identify new ways of strengthening their UK supply chains.

“We’d like to thank the delegates, exhibitors, sponsors and partners who contributed to the great success of EMCON 2023. We’re already looking forward to next year.”

EMCON was supported by a range of sponsors, including Gold Sponsors Manchester Metrology, B2B Injection Moulding Ltd and Business Durham, Silver Sponsors RTC, SMS Tech, Decerna, Made Smarter, CMYK and Torishima, and Bronze Sponsors Polymer Compounders and Cirrus Environmental Solutions Ltd. The Meet The Buyer programme was sponsored by Westray Recruitment and Salford Professional Development.