How much does Britain need robots? True, there have been negative stories about a gloomy future for workers as more automation is introduced. However, unemployment is currently at its lowest since 1975, while manufacturers may be facing a labour shortage.
Jeremy Hacking, of Finch Electronics, explains, “Increasingly, the foreign labour that filled many factory-floor jobs is no longer available as workers from abroad either go home or decide not to come here.”
“Similarly, productivity remains an issue in the UK, with the country lagging behind its international competitors.”
One reason for this lower productivity hitting competitiveness could be a failure of industry to invest in robotics and AI solutions.
What is the State of the Robotics Industry?
“Because the narrative has focused more on the perceived threat to the workforce from robotics, rather than the technological benefits, the picture is skewed”
“What is clear is that the take-up in manufacturing of robotics is lower than elsewhere.”
Are there positive signs of life?
“The Government’s Digital Strategy has planned for £17.3bn in funding for AI and Robotics through UK universities. In London, investment in robotics is growing according to figures for venture capital streams.”
However, there is a need for more investment to transform UK manufacturing.
The Case for Robots
Robots can run 24 hours a day and undertake repetitive tasks without a break, but more than this, the technology behind them has evolved.
“The new breed of robots is far advanced compared to old-style factory robots, and they are easier to programme, generally more flexible and are designed to be collaborative, so people can work easily with them”
There is also evidence that automation need not lead to laying off workers.
“Work for employees will still be there, but it will be different. It will require more knowledge and have more value. It can mean better productivity with people manning robotic production lines and supervising cohorts of robots.”
“Manufacturing, like technology, must evolve to survive, and compete successfully,” Jeremy concludes. “Robotics will be a big part of this, and smart manufacturers should be investing in these developments and helping to prototype future solutions.”
Finch Electronics specialises in bringing ideas to life. If you have a robotics project that you want to launch, or you want full collaborative support in prototyping ready for market, then please call them on 01282 838 779 or visit finchelectronics.co.uk.