Almost two-thirds (65%) of UK manufacturing business invested in automation over the past 12 months, according to the latest Annual Manufacturing Report.
The Manufacturer’s Annual Manufacturing Report also reveals the majority of those executives surveyed represent companies which are already undertaking a move to Industry 4.0 (23%) or were planning to do so (62%).
Additionally, contrary to popular perceptions, more than half (51%) of those investing in automation expect to redeploy existing staff to perform more profitable roles within the organisation.
Manufacturers are leading the way when it comes to advanced technology, employing it to transform every process and operation. Cloud computing, 3D printing, the Industrial Internet of Things, augmented reality, advanced robotics, cyber-physical systems, artificial intelligence, machine-learning, digital factories.
These advancements are all a reality today, and the people who use them are skilled, creative and at the cutting-edge.
There is a misconception that manufacturing offers low-skilled, stagnate positions for those who didn’t do particularly well at school. I’ve heard numerous stories of teachers actively using the idea of “ending up in a factory” as the stick to encourage students to study hard and progress to university.
When it comes to education, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Some learn by doing, some by watching, some by listening, others a mixture of all three. We need to erode the inequality which exists between academic education and vocational training, particularly as manufacturing requires both and offers well-paid, rewarding, upwardly mobile careers in return.
Most companies, regardless of sector, will have roles which demand varying degrees of skills, alongside entry-level or intern positions. Yet the idea that most manufacturing jobs require long hours stood at a line performing simple, repetitive tasks is false, especially as automation is increasingly shouldering much of the manual assembly burden.
The reality is that today’s workers are highly skilled, tech-savvy and innovative, often moving between roles within a single shift. The growing proliferation of automation means you’re now more likely to see a worker with a control unit in their hand, rather than a spanner.