Industry 4.0 & automation: Raising uptake

1 min read

The UK is in danger of slipping down the international rankings unless we increase our levels of automation. FANUC Europe vice president Dr Bob Struijk looks at reasons behind the reluctance to automate and at what we can do

Now sitting 25th in the global robotics league table, according to the FR World Robotics Industrial Report 2023, the UK is the only G7 nation outside the top 20 and have been eclipsed by most of our European counterparts in terms of numbers of robots per 10,00 workers.

The benefits to UK manufacturing of robotics and automation technology are greater than ever, helping to meet net zero targets, boost productivity and underpin our key industries.

And with an estimated 70,000 vacancies in manufacturing, robots are also alleviating the longstanding labour shortages which have worsened since Brexit and Covid.

It is though, an improving picture. Led by the automotive sector, UK robot installations were up by 3% in 2022, with operational stock growing by 7%. But at just 98 robots per 10,000 workers, we are still well behind European leaders Germany (415).

Among the many potential explanations for this are a focus on short-term payback rather than longer-term total cost of ownership (TCO); a fear of change; outdated perceptions of engineering as a career; a lack of government incentives; reliance on cheap manual labour; and no long-term national manufacturing strategy.

Should we be looking to our European neighbours for some automation inspiration?

FANUC Europe VP Dr Bob Struijk thinks so and believes there are a variety of reasons why certain nations are further ahead on their automation journey.

Read more here.