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‘Every £1 invested in UK automation could deliver £49 return’

30 November, 2015

When asked to identify barriers to investing more in automation and robotics, the UK manufacturers cited factors such as: limited availability of internal and external funding (23% and 15%, respectively); competing demands for capital expenditure (26%); limitations and inflexibility of current technology (18%); inadequate returns on investment (16%); concerns over workforce morale (11%); and a lack of relevant skills (10%).

Rigby: barriers need to be addressed

When asked why their businesses have not invested more in automation over the past 12 months, the most common answer (given by 28% of the UK respondents) was that their business did not need to make such investments.

Despite this, more than two-thirds (68%) of the British manufacturers surveyed see potential to increase the use of automation equipment in their businesses, and 42% expect their companies to be spending more on automation equipment in two years’ time than they do today. The corresponding figure in Germany is 48%.

UK manufacturers see parts manufacturing as being the activity most likely to benefit from automation (24%), followed by assembly (15%), packaging (12%), machine loading (9%) and palletisation (6%). In Germany, parts manufacturing is also regarded as being the most attractive application (27%), followed by machine loading (21%) and assembly (16%).

The Barclays report identifies the UK’s food and pharmaceutical industries as being best-placed to capitalise on automation, predicting an increase of output, for both sectors, of more than 10% from 2016­–2020, and close to 25% from 2020–2025.

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