FDF Event

*POSTPONED* Automation and Digitalisation in the Food and Drink Industry


As a result of the latest government advice on COVID-19 we will be postponing our Automation & Digitalisation event until later in the year. More details will be provided once a date has been confirmed for this event.


The pace of change is increasing and companies face tough challenges in making sure they are investing in the right technical innovations, making the business case, and recruiting and retaining the people that they need to do the job.

Join us for a special one-day conference looking at the role of Automation and Digitalisation in the Food and Drink Industry.

Our manufacturing members are at the cutting edge of the latest technologies and this event will showcase their first hand expertise in developing the latest technologies.


  • Getting started on the digital journey
  • How Government is working with industry to adopt digital technology
  • How Digitalisation can improve operational performance and the bottom line
  • Managing Supply Chain Resilience
  • Increasing Food and Drink Manufacturing’s Productivity, Efficiency and Agility
  • Skills, Learning and Job Creation within Automation and/or Digitalisation
  • Developing Innovation clusters in the Northern England
  • Improving operational effectiveness by Automation and Robotics in today's consumer driven environment
  • Climate change / The role of automation and robotics helping to improve 'greener' technological processes

Confirmed speakers:

  • Steve Brambley, Chief Executive, Gambica
  • Neil Walburton, Principal Manufacturing Consultant, Royal Haskoning
  • Paul Hastings, Account Manager, Ideagen
  • Keith Thornhill, Head of Food & Beverage, Siemens  
  • Prof. Martin Howarth, Director of the NCEFE, Sheffield Hallam University 
  • Rob Brooks, European Industry Marketing Manager, Omron   
  • Matt Rayment, Chief Engineer – Food and Drink Sector, The Manufacturing Technology Centre 
  • Nik Watson, Learning and Development Manager, SMC

The event will also feature a panel discussion on robotics and automation:

  • KUKA – Expertise in robotics and automation. The case for robots, implementation, what is possible
  • Cranfield – Research, clusters approach/collaboration, projects
  • Santander – Financial and non-financial help with banking, investment, exporting, growth & competitiveness etc.

Speaker profiles:

Paul Hastings
Account Manager, Ideagen

Paul is an account manager with over 20 years of experience in multiple industries. Paul previously worked as Quality Manager for a major food production company in Scotland dealing with food safety incidents, customer complaints, quality checks and trend analysis.

As an account manager specialising in Food & Drink and Manufacturing at Ideagen, an important element of Paul's role is to understand the developing food and drink industries' requirements and to help our customers manage these through implementation and use of our solutions.

Steve Brambley
Chief Executive, GAMBICA

Steve Brambley is the Chief Executive of GAMBICA, the Trade Association for Instrumentation, Control, Automation and Laboratory Technology in the UK. He leads GAMBICA in being a highly collaborative and influential organisation, engaging with a diverse range of stakeholders including UK and European governments, associations, institutions, industry & manufacturing, media & events companies and standards bodies. He has over 14 years of trade association experience at GAMBICA with previous roles in public affairs and the industrial automation sector.

Steve also brings previous experience from the automotive industry, having worked for the Michelin Tyre Company and the Dana Corporation in management roles across manufacturing, quality, logistics and engineering. He has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Loughborough University. He is passionate about the positive influence that technology can bring to UK industry, with a view to generating growth, protecting the climate, ensuring health & well-being and driving innovation in the UK.

Robert Brooks
European Industry Marketing Manager, Omron Europe

Robert Brooks is the European Industry Marketing Manager for the Food and Commodities sector within Omron Europe.

With more than 25 years' experience of the automation market, his main responsibilities include the development of marketing strategies and related deliverables based on Omron's corporate strategy, taking into consideration societal changes and trends, and providing solutions that add value to Food and Beverage manufacturers. He represents Omron in various organisations and speaks at various conferences and other events.

Matt Rayment CEng MIET
Sector Lead Food, Drink and FMCG, MTC

Has designed and built production automation systems for 15 years and following a move to the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) is responsible for the Food, Drink and FMCG projects that the MTC undertakes as well as leading the Food and Drink team across the whole High-Value Manufacturing Catapult. As a Chief Engineer, he is responsible for working with clients to develop manufacturing roadmaps and deliver on novel production automation solutions from robotics and automation, digital and Industry 4.0 as well as setting the stage to make use of advanced and emerging manufacturing technologies and techniques.

Organiser: Craig Hannington, 02074207126, craig.hannington@fdf.org.uk