Wilson issues robot warning

BARAUK sales of robots in the first three months of 2012 outstripped sales in any other quarter to date but the picture is not as good as it may seem, according to the British Automation and Robot Association (BARA).
The continuing success of the automotive industry in the UK is leading to record orders for robots however other sectors, such as packaging, are not yet realising the benefits of automation.
From January to March, robot sales reached 923 units, 85% of which were automotive orders. Although the figure is larger than the annual total for many of the previous years, BARA chairman Mike Wilson believes a lack if investment in other sectors could blunt their competitive edge and he urged firms to take advantage of a UK government-backed programme set up to tackle the issue.
“Automotive continuing to buy robots is not a particular surprise,” he said. “They recognise the benefits to their manufacturing. Our concern is the broader picture and the risk to competitiveness that will result from lack of investment in automation technologies.”
The free government-backed Automating Manufacturing Programme is starting to address these issues, showing manufacturers how they can benefit from automation and providing assistance on the first steps towards implementing automation.
Grant Collier, head of marketing for the PPMA Group of Associations, added: “Applications to date have come from a wide range of industries, including a significant number from the food sector. The initial review is funded by the UK government, the application process is simple, all companies should be looking at this as a route to improve their manufacturing operations.”
Further details of the programme can be found at www.automatingmanufacturing.co.uk