The adoption of robotics and automation in UK manufacturing has the potential to improve productivity, efficiency and quality across multiple sectors, delegates at a Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) conference were told.
And it’s not just traditional manufacturing industries that can reap the benefits of robotics. Speakers at the Manufacturing Technology Centre‘s two-day conference, Robotics and Automation – A New Perspective, emphasised that automation could solve problems in the agriculture, logistics, construction and space sectors.
Labour shortages, skills shortages and low productivity were all problems that could be solved by the adoption of robotics and automation according to speakers at the conference, which explored the future of automation in UK industry and demonstrated the opportunities available.
More than 300 delegates from a wide range of industries shared insights into the transformational benefits of cutting edge robotic technologies and heard how automation can improve productivity and drive global competitiveness for UK businesses.
Keynote speaker Mark Pawsey, who is co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Manufacturing and MP for Rugby, said the successful adoption of automation and robotics was important for UK manufacturing. Tim Baines, Professor of Operations Strategy at Aston Business School and co-founder of the Advanced Services Group, explained how businesses could benefit from the adoption of high value, service-based business models.
Topics covered at the conference included overcoming barriers to adoption and meeting the challenges presented by automation. Other sessions looked at the solutions that automation presents to meet industry’s sustainability and net zero goals, and the opportunities for robotics in education, providing a fascinating insight into modern engineering methods to enthuse students.
Industrial equipment manufacturers, robotics manufacturers and system integrators were able to showcase their products and services to the audience of manufacturing leaders and decision makers.
The event, which built on a successful conference in 2022, expanded on the recommendations of a report by MTC robotics experts and the Industrial Policy Research Centre at Loughborough University which called for more knowledge sharing across the robotics community, with an emphasis on skills, as well as a greater understanding among the investor and finance community of the business benefits of automation.
Mike Wilson, Chief Automation Officer at the MTC, said: “The most significant output from this conference was that it got people talking about robotics and automation and the positive benefits. There was a real buzz about the event which stimulated interest and contributed to our aim of building a community to share knowledge and experience. We got some great feedback from the delegates who said they found the event useful and informative, with many reporting potential new business and learning opportunities.”
He added: “These events aim to instil confidence in companies to transform their future. It encourages SMEs and supply chain companies to explore ground-breaking and innovative industrial robotic solutions so they can understand how their manufacturing operations would benefit. It also demonstrates how the technology can be brought to bear across a wide range of sectors.”
The MTC aims to provide a competitive environment to bridge the gap between university-based research and the development of innovative manufacturing solutions, in line with the government’s manufacturing strategy. The MTC is part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, supported by Innovate UK.
Established to prove innovative manufacturing processes and technologies in an agile environment in partnership with industry, academia and other institutions, the MTC houses some of the most advanced manufacturing equipment in the world, creating a high quality environment for the development and demonstration of new technologies on an industrial scale. This provides a unique opportunity for manufacturers to develop new and innovative processes and technologies.
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