AMF News

Manufacturing forum asserts its position as a voice to the manufacturing community with new board appointments

The Advanced Manufacturing Forum (AMF) has appointed a new Chair and two Vice-Chairs to support its new growth strategy and to strengthen its position as a voice for North East manufacturing companies.  

The AMF has appointed Richard Swart as Chair, Rachel Mansfield as Vice Chair and has promoted board member Alan Metcalfe to Vice Chair.

Established by the private sector in 2006, the AMF is a membership network which offers a single voice on behalf of the manufacturing community in the North East. It engages with its members and the wider business community to drive growth, champion innovation and be a platform for the sharing of best practice and collaboration.

The significant board appointments are the first step in line with the AMF’s strategy to further increase membership and expand its member base from North East SME manufacturing organisations to also include engineering and supply chain organisations.

Richard Swart, Global Sales and Quality Director at Berger Group and AMF Chair will be a key spokesperson for the forum amplifying the voice of members and publicly discussing issues impacting them such as skills and commodity shortages and the challenges of Brexit. With more than 30 years’ experience, Richard’s industry knowledge is bolstered by his work in creating the Open North Foundation (ONF) in July 2020 – a not-for-profit organisation he also Chairs. It was set up to support North East businesses negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic with free grants and training through strategic partnerships.

Rachel Mansfield, Global Service and Innovation Director at Tracerco and joint AMF Vice Chair, has been appointed to champion the AMF’s ambition to increase the diversity of membership. She will support the AMF’s drive to increase exposure and relevance outside of the core manufacturing community, introducing new engineering and service members to further encourage collaboration and sharing of knowledge and experiences across the North East.

Alan Metcalfe, Commercial Director at Zenith People, who has sat on the AMF board for eight years has been appointed as joint Vice Chair. Working closely with members and North East organisations operating in the manufacturing and engineering sectors, Alan is constantly aware of market and business challenges and works to support them, in particular around recruitment and upskilling.

Richard Swart, Chair of the AMF, said: “The AMF plays a vital role in connecting businesses in the North East and I’m delighted to be joining the AMF board. Like many other businesses the AMF has been impacted by Covid-19 but through strategic planning we will build its member base above pre-covid levels and expand the organisations it supports with its collaborative approach.

“A core strength of the AMF is that it offers a direct route for businesses to support each other throughout the manufacturing and engineering industries and supply chain. I look forward to strengthening this benefit to members with more events and opportunities to collaborate and learn from each other.

“The Open North Foundation has supported a number of North East businesses impacted by Covid-19 with resources and so, I’m looking forward to supporting more businesses and providing them with a voice to air their views and any issues they are facing with a view to finding ways to solve problems or raise with appropriate authorities.

“My appointment as Chair of the AMF is a wonderful opportunity to get to know the board and its members more closely and make a positive difference as part of the AMF’s new journey.”

Speaking of her appointment as joint Vice Chair to the AMF board, Rachel Mansfield said: “I am honoured to have been invited to join the Advanced Manufacturing Forum board to drive diversity within the member base and provide a new voice on the board.

“The AMF has a great track record of bringing together manufacturing businesses in the North East and providing opportunities for the sharing of best practice and steering discussions on topical issues. With almost 20 years of engineering experience, I’m excited to have the opportunity to influence the AMF strategy from a non-core manufacturing perspective. Increasing the AMF’s visibility to a broader network of industries, to further enable cross-functional and industrial interactions is an exciting prospect, as increased member value is to be gained through the sharing of knowledge and experience across a broader membership base.

“I’m looking forward to working with a board that is knowledgeable and enthusiastic to support its members.”

Alan Metcalfe, joint Vice Chair of the AMF, added: “Having been a member of the AMF since 2008 and on the board since 2013 I have witnessed many changes within the organisation, and I’m pleased to be a part of driving this new chapter of growth for the AMF.

“A core offering of the AMF is the support that its members provide to each other as well as the business support Strategic Partners, such as Zenith People, provide to members by way of expertise that is specific to the manufacturing and engineering communities. Through the AMF’s collaborative approach common challenges are addressed, with the aim to ensure no business is left behind. With this mantra we are looking to grow our network with more SMEs in manufacturing, engineering and the supply chain.

“This is a pivotal moment in the AMF’s history as we are bringing in the manufacturing and engineering expertise of two individuals that will directly support our mission of providing a voice to the community and a diverse range of experiences that can support members.

“With my new position on the board I look forward to supporting Richard and Rachel and pushing forward with the AMF’s new diverse vision to expand the member organisations it supports and collaborate with external organisations who share common experiences.”

The AMF offers its members a range of exclusive benefits and access to industry experts. It encourages peer-to-peer networking and collaboration and delivers a number of events, from its Monthly Meetings to Focussed Forums with guest speakers. The AMF’s next focussed meeting will be on 2 June 2021, to discuss Brexit, export and growth with guest speakers: David Smith, Sunday Times Economics Editor; Sir Ivan Rogers, Former UK Ambassador to the EU; and Brian Dakers, an international trade specialist.

For more information visit or call 0191 481 3480.

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