SMEs need to take advantage of automation and robotics opportunities, says Kevin Staines

Posted on 14 Dec 2011

Kevin Staines, sales director at CKF Systems, a solutions provider for automation and robotic equipment, tells The Manufacturer how his sector can boost growth in manufacturing and gives the lowdown on why take-up has been slow.

“Compared with a decade ago, the UK food industry has taken a big step forward in its willingness to embrace new technologies that have helped to transform virtually all aspects of production. With increasing pressure at home and overseas, coupled with ever-shifting patterns in consumer tastes, businesses know that investment now will realise greater levels of flexibility, quality and profitability.

However, I do understand why some businesses, particularly small to medium-sized, are resistant to change. ‘Robotics’ can conjure up an image of technologies beyond a company’s comfort zone; perceived as a costly investment without the in-house resources and skills to either determine the best solution or manage the project and its smooth transition.

CKF in action. Automation and Robotics
CKF in action. Automation and Robotics

On occasions a complex system utilising the latest robots and visual recognition systems is the right way forward but more often than not the solution is much less daunting, perhaps restricted to the automation of one part of an otherwise efficient process.

Smaller companies especially, which have limited financial and technical resources and are consequently more risk-averse, often tend systems in place that can readily adapt to changing circumstances. Once their fears are alleviated there is nothing to hold them back. Demonstrating the payback is actually the easiest thing to do!

At CKF, we have geared up our business to provide organisations that lack the expertise with an ‘in-house’ engineering resource to provide peace of mind and dispel any anxieties they may have. We also make sure that our starting point is a blank piece of paper and an in depth understanding of the company and its needs.

The starting point should never be a robotic solution, always the best available solution for any given situation, taking everything into consideration.”