We’re into the last few days before Austech – Australia’s premier advanced manufacturing and machine tool exhibition – gets under way in Melbourne.

Preparations for the show are now entering their final stages, with work now underway at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre to ensure everything is ready when the event begins on Tuesday. It marks the culmination of a long and complicated process in making Austech a reality, with the exhibition space fully booked well in advance, and pre-registrations from prospective visitors already very strong. According to AMTIL Event Manager and Austech organiser Kim Banks, the enthusiasm shown both by exhibitors and by people planning to visit the show, is indicative of an willingness across the industry to invest and build for the future.

“We’ve definitely seen a big surge in confidence this time round,” says AMTIL Event Manager and Austech organiser Kim Banks. “We saw bookings come in a lot earlier than usual, filling the venue way ahead of schedule. What’s also very exciting is the number of exhibitors who are coming back to the show after not participating for the last few years. It’s all looking very exciting.”

Held at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre from 9-12 May, Austech 2017 will be a must-attend event for manufacturing professionals from around Australia. More than 10,000 industrial decision makers are expected to visit the show, taking the opportunity to see the latest technology up close and find out what it can do to enhance their businesses. Austech will be co-located with National Manufacturing Week (NMW) and the Safety First Expo.

Australian manufacturing is enjoying its most positive outlook in years. The Australian Performance of Manufacturing Index has shown a trend of almost consistent growth since the last Austech two years ago, while signs of optimism abound throughout the industry. And this renewed confidence has been clear to see as preparations for Austech 2017 have advanced.

Two years ago, Austech 2015 was the first time the exhibition was held since the decision to shift from an annual show to a biennial event. While the move to a two-year schedule attracted a certain amount of criticism in some quarters, the 2015 show vindicated the decision, attracting the strongest attendance in years and great feedback from exhibitors and visitors alike.

“It wasn’t a decision we took lightly,” explains Shane Infanti, AMTIL CEO and Austech Exhibition Director. “But it was something our members were demanding. And in the end, Austech 2015 was a great success, not just in terms of the numbers, but in terms of the excitement you could feel throughout the venue that week. And all the signs are that this year’s show is going to do even better.”

Among the highlights of this year’s show will be the Digitalisation Pavilion, a brand new area that will explore developments at the cutting edge of manufacturing technology today. Manufacturing is on the cusp of a wave of radical change – often described as the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0 – where advances in robotics & automation, the Internet of Things, big data and Cloud computing, and more, will usher in the smart factory of the future. The Digitalisation Pavilion is where visitors can learn what this will mean for them and their business, and what opportunities it will create. It will also be the venue for a comprehensive four-day speaker program.

“The Digitalisation Pavilion is going to be a really exciting new addition to the show,” says Infanti. “You hear more and more talk about things like Industry 4.0 these days, but a lot of people struggle to understand what it all actually means. Well now they can get all their questions answered by the experts, right here at Austech.”

Making its return will be the Manufacturers Pavilion – first held as part of Austech 2013 – a specially dedicated area showcasing the capabilities of Australia’s precision engineering and advanced manufacturing industry. As well as featuring a diverse array of Australian component manufacturers, precision engineering firms, toolmakers, advanced manufacturers and general engineering companies, it will feature major exhibits from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), including the Hawkei protected mobility vehicle from Thales, and a prime mover from Paccar. The Additive Manufacturing Pavilion, again held in collaboration with Inside 3D Printing, will also be back, featuring the latest advances in this fast-evolving new field of manufacturing.

In total, more than 120 organisations will be exhibiting at Austech, with numerous key industry players and major machine tool companies gearing up to have a presence at the show. All areas of manufacturing are covered, including tooling, workholding, software and systems integration. With all the world’s leading machine tool builders under one roof, Austech 2017 promises to be an unmissable event.

“This is the Big Show – and it only happens every two years,” says Banks. “So mark your diaries and join us in Melbourne.”