By Tom Bouchier, Managing Director, FANUC UK
The UK has a powerful and proud manufacturing historical past and, for a small nation, has lengthy punched above its weight on the worldwide stage. As we speak, the UK stays the ninth largest manufacturing nation on the planet, with a £183bn output. However our seat on the prime desk is trying precarious because of our sluggish adoption of commercial automation. Not the protect of Asian powerhouses like China, Japan or the Republic of Korea, the just lately revealed IFR World Robotics Industrial Robots 2022 report reveals that nations far nearer to house akin to Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and Hungary are actually outpacing the UK when it comes the adoption of robotics. If we’re to proceed competing on the worldwide stage, it’s crucial that the UK’s automation group comes collectively to help British corporations to embrace robotics and guarantee our repute as a nation of producers continues to thrive.
A record-breaking yr
As acknowledged in its foreword, the statistics contained within the 2022 IFR report are a powerful indication of the very important contribution that robotics is making in the direction of supporting companies to guard their core manufacturing processes in opposition to the consequences of the quite a few world crises that we’ve got skilled over the previous few years. A document 517,385 new robots had been put in in 2021 – a powerful 31% uplift from 2020. In addition to conventional automation adopters such because the automotive, electronics, and metallic & equipment industries, advances in robotic functionality via digitalisation and AI have seen sectors akin to warehousing and logistics additionally start deploying automated options.
UK bucks the worldwide pattern
Robotics has a key function to play in enabling producers from all nations to stay agile, value environment friendly and globally aggressive, and the truth that 2021 noticed the best variety of new robotic installations on document is especially encouraging. However, from a UK perspective, the IFR outcomes had been extra sobering. At 2,054, the variety of new robotic installations was down 7% year-on-year, giving the UK a median manufacturing robotic density of 111 robots for each 10,000 workers, which the report notes is ‘very low for a Western European nation’. This determine is properly under the worldwide common of 141 and significantly beneath the highest performing nation of the Republic of Korea (1,000) and the European frontrunner, Germany (397). Actually, the UK is presently languishing at 24th on the planet robotic density rankings, making us the one G7 nation to take a seat exterior the highest 20.
The UK’s place as a number one manufacturing nation is unquestionable; however we might improve our productiveness ranges considerably if we used extra automation. To place it into context, many nations have a producing business that accounts for the same 10% GDP because the UK (the USA, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden, for instance); however their productiveness charges are increased than ours because of their higher funding in automation. Astonishingly, a German employee is round 30% an hour extra productive than a UK employee – put merely, we can’t anticipate to proceed competing on the worldwide stage except we automate.
The necessity to automate has grow to be much more crucial in the previous couple of years within the face of a sequence of unprecedented world and nationwide crises, which have impacted UK producers’ skill to recruit workers. Already dealing with a labour shortfall, an ideal storm of Brexit and the Covid pandemic prompted an exodus of European labour from our shores, contributing to the 97,000 vacancies within the manufacturing sector reported in January 2022 (a year-on-year improve of 113%). In addition to this ‘value of leaving’ disaster, the nation can be dealing with a price of dwelling disaster, which has seen producers grapple with rising payments for vitality, transport and uncooked supplies.
Recruiting hard-to-find handbook labour whereas managing growing prices is a tough balancing act, however it may be alleviated via automation. Through the use of robots to do the boring, soiled and harmful duties, automation allows producers to make higher use of their human workers, upskilling them to spice up recruitment and retention charges whereas growing productiveness.
A shiny future
The outlook, subsequently, is brighter than it might presently seem. In 2015, robotic density within the UK was simply 71 robots per 10,000 workers – the present determine of 111 demonstrates a 56% improve, and that is mirrored right here at FANUC UK in our wholesome order e book going into 2023.
The UK already boasts world class engineers, world class machine device builders, world class integrators and a world class workforce. To retain our repute as a nation of world class producers, we now must help corporations to implement world class automation know-how.