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Hard core of UK manufacturers resists automation

01 July, 2004

Hard core of UK manufacturers resists automation

A nationwide survey of UK manufacturers has revealed that almost a quarter (24%) of them do not use automation and stlll depend heavily on manual labour.

"Worryingly, the survey shows that 44% of companies which have not invested in automated manufacturing, see no necessity to do so," says Ken Purchase, organiser of the forthcoming Drives & Controls exhibition, who commissioned the survey. "Only 8% quoted `cost` as a factor in their decision, so the industry obviously has an educational job to do."

However, the survey, carried out by Benchmark Research, also reveals that most manufacturers who have adopted automation are satisfied with the results. Of the 277 companies quizzed during June, 94% were generally happy with the levels of service provided by their automation suppliers, and 84% felt that automating their processes had resulted in the expected levels of cost and time savings.

The survey also shows a healthy level of investment in automation, with more than half of the companies questioned claiming 50-75% levels of automated production in their plants.

Increased production speeds and reduced costs were the overwhelming reasons given by 60% of companies for automating their processes, while 19% saw it as a way of improving their quality control procedures. A further 13% reported that keeping their competitive edge was the motivating factor for adopting automation.

The survey also carries good news for the Government in its efforts to persuade industry to use less energy. More than half (52%) of the companies quizzed said that saving energy was an important factor in their choice of automation equipment.

Predictably perhaps, quality, price, service and delivery -were regarded as the most important aspects of the service offered by automation suppliers. What might ring alarm bells for suppliers is the low priority that industry seems to attach to "flexibility" and "upgradeability" when choosing automation equipment.




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