Britain needs robots. Robotics will need to play and increasingly prominent role in the country’s manufacturing sector if the country is to compete internationally post-Brexit.
Productivity, Workers and Robotics
“Two looming issues for manufacturers in the UK are productivity and labour shortages. Robotics can help address both.”
The UK’s productivity problems are familiar to most, and even as productivity figures fluctuate, the overall picture is that it is restraining growth in the manufacturing sector.
Low productivity reduces UK competitiveness, and one reason for this low productivity may be a failure of industry to invest more in modern machinery, including robotics.
There is also a looming labour shortage in manufacturing as more and more foreign nationals are either leaving or deciding not to come to the UK to work in the first place.
“Jobs that traditionally manufacturers could rely on foreign labour to fill are now being left empty, especially with overall unemployment in the UK now at its lowest since 1975.”
At the same time, the UK lags behind other industrial nations such as Germany and South Korea in its uptake of robotics.
According to the International Federation of Robotics, there are 71 robots per 10,000 manufacturing employees in the UK, compared to 309 per every 10,000 in Germany and 631 per every 10,000 in South Korea.
“The future is about change, integration, more people carrying out higher-value, knowledge-based work, along with more robotics integrated into critical production processes to support them”
Manufacturers have the opportunity to become more productive and profitable by embracing more flexible ways of working.
This is what is offered by greater automation, and the adoption of robotics.
The UK Robotics Industry
While there is investment in robotics for manufacturing, there is a deficit in the design, development and manufacturing of actual robotics technology.
“There is little in the way of official figures about robotics manufacturing and development, indicating that there has been a lack of industry or government focus on this area.”
Instead, the narrative has centred on the alleged threat to jobs from robotics, rather than the overall benefits they could bring to industry.
On the plus side, the UK Government’s Digital Strategy has described plans for providing £17.3bn in research on robotics and artificial intelligence through British Universities.
Furthermore, according to analysis of venture capital flowing into London’s tech sector, AI and robotics are the fastest growing areas for investment.
“There deserves to be a wider, commercial, business-focused investment in robotics, and specialist manufacturing sectors and niche providers could be best positioned to provide solutions to manufacturers”
“Unemployment is currently low, but the manufacturing sector is suffering,” Jeremy concludes. “Greater uptake of robotics is inevitable and, therefore, the time is right to invest in robotics as a much-needed manufacturing solution.”
Finch Electronics specialises in bringing ideas to life. If you have a robotics project that you want to launch, or you want full collaborative support in prototyping ready for market, then please call them on 01282 838 779 or visit finchelectronics.co.uk.