Govt commits to automation

Posted on 16 Dec 2010 by The Manufacturer

The British Automation and Robot Association has welcomed the Government's provision of £600k to simulate the adoption of automation.

The funding is the result of recommendations made in a recent industry study, Application of Automation in UK Manufacturing. The study was commissioned by members of the Engineering and Machinery Alliance (EAMA) with support from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), and sponsored by BARA (the British Automation and Robot Association) and its members.

The study, which polled a broad spectrum of manufacturers of engineered products and food in Spain, Germany, Sweden and the UK, not only aimed to find out why the UK lags behind the rest of the world in the adoption of automation, but looked to address the issues with an action plan of initiatives to stimulate growth. When results concluded that the main reasons for UK manufacturers’ lack of investment in modern manufacturing technologies were due to lack of knowledge, skills and confidence, BIS responded with funding for a two year programme beginning Spring 2011, which looks to address the barriers that UK manufacturers face.

“Although the UK is a long way behind in the use of automation when compared to some other countries, manufacturing in the UK has many strengths including reasonable productivity levels achieved by the widespread assimilation of lean concepts. If the use of automation can be increased, UK manufacturing has the potential to be a significant force in global markets – however, there is a definite need for an overall strategy to be coordinated and driven at a national level, and BARA intends to take the lead on such an initiative,” comments Mike Wilson, BARA President.

In a bid to make UK manufacturers more competitive, the BIS programme, supported by BARA, will better prepare companies to introduce new automated/robotic systems and help them operate them effectively.

In addition to supporting the BIS programme, BARA will organise a series of regional events in early 2011 which will help SME’s understand the benefits of automation and provide advice on how to take the first steps in their adoption of automation.

“In a relatively high cost economy such as the UK, the application of automation is an essential ingredient in the sustainability of manufacturing businesses, enabling them to compete more successfully in the global market. Automating manufacturing processes not only drives costs down, it improves quality, reduces waste and optimises energy use,” states Mike. “The regional events will provide manufacturers with an excellent source of information and know-how so that they can overcome the obstacles suppressing their uptake of automation and consequently increase their competitive edge,” he adds.