More commitment needed to change UK’s approach to automation

The World Skills UK robotics competition at Smart Factory Expo
The World Skills UK robotics competition at Smart Factory Expo

At the Smart Factory Expo this week FANUC UK named ‘commitment’ as the number one driver to help inspire a change in culture towards robotics and automation among British manufacturers.

Head of UK Sales Oliver Selby gave the keynote speech at the event’s Automation & Robotics Acceleration Symposium and said a change in culture was needed to ensure continued UK manufacturing success, calling for commitment towards skills and education across all levels – from students to C-Suite – as well as commitment to a long-term automation investment strategy.

“Despite being the eighth largest manufacturing nation, we are 25th in terms of robotics adoption,” he said. “Just imagine what we could achieve if we raised our automation levels.”

Citing a difference in attitude towards investment in robotics between the UK and many of the leading automated nations, he added: “In countries such as Germany, Japan and the US, automation is prioritised from the outset of any new manufacturing project – it’s not an afterthought. And in Scandinavia, a realistic view on payback periods (as well as a realisation that total cost of ownership is a better measure of value than ROI) sees companies prioritising a long-term investment strategy around automation.

“Of course, government support also plays a large part, and in this regard, we are playing catch-up. However, it’s not too late to make a change if all stakeholders work together.”

Increasing education around automation – at every level – is also crucial to boosting the UK’s  robotics uptake, according to FANUC

“Particularly SMEs, it’s essential that a range of staff are trained and educated on the benefits that the right automation solution can deliver,” said Mr Selby. “Whether that’s the finance department, engineering or operational staff, management, board members and even the owner, everyone has something to learn.”

This commitment to education also extends to inspiring the next generation of engineers and ensuring they are equipped with the skills that will be needed by modern manufacturers. To this end, FANUC has partnered with WorldSkills UK for fourth time, in the Industrial Robotics competition. The qualifying rounds for this year’s contest took place live at Smart Factory Expo and saw the 12 highest ranking teams compete in a 3.5-hour challenge to pick and place 10 cylinders, following a pre-set robotic pathway.

Oliver Selby, FANUC UK head of sales

“We are extremely proud of our partnership with WorldSkills UK. The five best teams will go on to compete in the WorldSkills UK final at the FANUC Open House event at our Coventry HQ in November, while the ultimate winners will have the chance to represent Squad UK in the global competition,” said Mr Selby.

The Smart Factory Expo showcased the finest technologies and solutions available to manufacturers today. For FANUC, the event proved highly successful, bringing multiple new leads across sectors as diverse as medical, semi-conducting, bakery, confectionery and plastics.





Fanuc UK

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