Sales of automation and robotic equipment are up 55% in 2010 compared with the same period last year, for members of the British Automation and Robotics Association.
This is the first time the sector has grown since 2006.
Historically one of the largest purchasers of automated equipment, the pharmaceutical industry has increased its orders further over the last year and buys more than any other sector, with 19 per cent of the overall market.
More surprisingly though, the food and drink industry has also substantially increased its investment levels in packing, palletising and handling equipment and is now the second biggest purchaser, beating the automotive sector, with 17 per cent of the market.
BARA President Mike Wilson said: “Sales to food and drink companies have grown by 172% since 2006 and it is now a major sector for robot applications in the UK. We expect that growth to continue throughout the rest of the year as more UK food and drink manufacturers look to close the productivity gap with their European competitors.”
“Despite the hugely challenging economic climate, this survey provides further proof that our industry has continued to invest heavily both in new factories and higher productivity,” added Julian Hunt, director of communications at the Food and Drink Federation. “We have put in strong foundations on which we can build as the country emerges from recession.”
Wilson pointed out though that despite the big rise in sales, the UK is still a long way behind some other European countries in its total robot spend.