FANUC UK managing director responds to BEIS automation report

2 min read

A recent report from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee (BEIS), which looks at the state of automation in the UK, has been welcomed by FANUC UK’s managing director Tom Bouchier, who has responded by calling upon the Government to show strong leadership in the transition period.

The ‘Automation and the future of work’ report highlights how the UK’s slow adoption of automation is being hampered by a lack of action from the Government, with entire regions of the country at risk of being left behind by G7 competitors. Unless concerted efforts are made to manage the transition to Industry 4.0, UK businesses will miss a pivotal opportunity for economic growth, argues the report

“The report urges our Government to establish a ‘Robot and AI Strategy’ by 2020, which is a crucial step in building confidence among businesses, industries and universities,” says Bouchier. “There’s significant appetite for automation, but the Government needs to take the lead on co-ordinating efforts to capitalise on emerging technologies.

“The UK has great potential, with a superb base of technology and research, but by embracing robots at a slower pace than our international competitors, we risk falling behind,” he continues. “To combat this, FANUC will be hosting its first UK open house. This has been arranged as a conscious effort to showcase the power of automation, which can improve productivity, stimulate market growth and ultimately create a new wave of skilled workers that will help British industry to flourish.”

The report also discourages the notion of a ‘robot tax’, which would be inhibitive to the adoption of automation and the interests of businesses and workers. Instead, the UK Government should incentivise investment in new technology, such as robots, given the likely boost this will give to SMEs.

Reflecting on the barriers to automation, the report suggests that a lack of awareness and understanding is particularly damaging. Indeed, the contents criticise the Government’s decision to close the Manufacturing Advice Service in 2015, highlighting it as indicative of a nation yet to grasp the importance of educating and supporting businesses on emerging technologies.

“Education and generating awareness of automation’s power are perhaps the biggest challenges we face in UK manufacturing, and it’s something that needs to be addressed at all levels,” says Bouchier. “It starts by ensuring that school and university curriculums are exposing people to new technologies from a young age, providing a clear entry route for everyone, regardless of socio-economic background, race or gender.

“However, it is also crucial that we continue to educate higher up the chain,” he adds. “We need to support UK Government by offering specialist support on technical matters, so that it can show the strong leadership we’re asking for. The report calls for funding of an impartial source of advice for businesses looking to invest in automation, which is the type of support that SMEs need to compete on a world stage.

“UK Government’s role in managing the transition to new technologies and a more automated industry is absolutely critical, but it must do so with the support of businesses. Manufacturers such as FANUC UK are obliged to use their expertise to showcase the benefits of automation and robotics, which is what makes events such as our upcoming open house on manufacturing automation and digital transformation so important.”

FANUC UK’s inaugural open house, which will be held on 29-31 October at its headquarters in Coventry, will answer some of the burgeoning questions on automation. The event will cover the benefits of adopting automation into a range of sectors, including automotive and aerospace, with over 25 live demonstrations and keynote speakers from across manufacturing and vocational education.

To find visit the registration page for FANUC UK’s open house, click here.