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UK robot sales dropped by 7% during 2013

17 February, 2014

The number of industrial robots sold in the UK during 2013 fell slightly from 2012 when a record number of 2,476 were sold. During 2013, the number fell to 2,305 – a 7% decrease ­– according to figures released by the British Automation and Robot Association (Bara).

Once again, most sales of new robots were to the automotive and automotive components sectors. “We are witnessing only a modest upward trend over the last few years in the uptake of automation and robotics across other sectors,” says Bara chairman, Mike Wilson.

The strongest non-automotive sector during 2013 was the pharmaceutical industry, with a sales growth of 116% over 2012. Sales of robots to the plastics sector were up by 58%, but those to the aerospace industry fell by 46%.

Sales of industrial robots for use in the food and drinks sector rose by 28% during 2013. Grant Collier, Bara’s head of marketing, who is responsible for the Automating Manufacturing programme – a government initiative to persuade UK companies to automate – reports that the initiative experienced “a tremendous level of interest for the use of automation from all sectors but, in particular, 37% of the total of 367 applications received came from the food sector.

“However,” he adds, “when surveyed, there is a great deal of reticence to automate in the food sector due to the pressure that the major supermarkets apply to supplier margins. The Groceries Code Adjudicator has been appointed to try to sort these issues out which, in turn, should help when it comes to investment in robotics and automation equipment. The Adjudicator will explain at the PPMA show at the NEC in September just how she is tackling this supply chain blockage.”

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