25 July 2012
UK robot sales smash records, but non-automotive sectors still need to improve
UK sales of robots from January to March 2012 outstripped sales in any other quarter to date, while sales for the first two quarters exceeded all previous full year sales on record, reports the British Automation and Robot Association (BARA), but implores more to investigate automation.
In the first quarter, robot sales of 923 units were recorded, which is larger than the annual total for many of the previous years. The second quarter brought this figure to 2,000 for the half year end.
Automotive and automotive component-related orders accounted for 85% in the first quarter and 89% of the sales in the second, highlighting the current spate of investment in the sector. This trend appears to be continuing, at least in the short term, says BARA. In most other sectors, robot sales are increasing, but the growth still remains sluggish and, in some sectors, there's sporadic decline.
Mike Wilson, British Automation and Robot Association chairman, said: "Whilst we welcome the level of robot orders from the automotive sector, largely driven by product demand in global emerging markets, it is a real concern that other sectors still do not understand the potential implications of not automating. Other countries such as China, Germany and most of the major European manufacturing nations are investing heavily in automation to sustain competitive advantage. Part of the problem in the UK is a short-term approach and the perception that the payback period is longer than it often is."
BARA, backed by government funding, is leading an automation push. Allen Green, managing director of plastics injection moulder A K Industries, which recently completed the free government automating manufacturing review that is available to all UK manufacturers said: "We have recently had our automation review carried out on site and we have found this very useful. The automation expert has highlighted several areas that we could cost-effectively automate and the payback period is a lot shorter than we had thought. We are pleased that the government is prepared to help UK manufacturing take the next steps in remaining competitive in an ever-increasingly global market place. We have just completed our first 6-axis robotic cell."
Grant Collier, head of marketing for the PPMA Group of Associations that is managing the automation programme, said: "Over 220 manufacturers around the UK have taken up the government-funded Automating Manufacturing Programme, which shows manufacturers how they can benefit from automation. The initial review is fully funded by the UK government, with no obligation to take it further, the application process is simple, all companies should be looking at this as a route to improve their manufacturing operations."
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British Automation and Robot Association