Robots in industry get a bad press. Most of the emphasis in the UK is on how much unemployment they might cause.
Does this negativity bleed out into the industry of robotics itself? Are we selling ourselves short?
The take-up of robotics in manufacturing in the UK is lower than elsewhere. The International Federation of Robotics reports there are 71 robots per 10,000 manufacturing employees in the UK, compared to 309 in Germany and 631 in South Korea.
At the same time, our productivity lags behind our international competitors, and there is a looming labour shortage for manufacturers as the foreign workers they traditionally have relied on leave or decide not to come. This is at a time of unemployment in the UK at its lowest point since 1975.
In short, robotics are going to be business-critical for many manufacturers.
The Benefits of Robotics
Robotics offers manufacturers the opportunity to develop new, more flexible and productive methods of working, and boosting profitability as a result.
The impact on employment need not be negative. What robotics and AI will do is change the nature of people’s jobs, but make no mistake, they will still be required in supervising, monitoring and interacting collaboratively with robot workforces.
Instead of seeing robotics as a threat, we must see it in a more positive light, as an opportunity to develop the next generation of UK manufacturing, to compete in a challenging, post-Brexit landscape
The adoption of robotics should add value and depth of knowledge to manufacturing roles, and help streamline and speed-up key processes.
Investing in Innovation
As part of its Digital Strategy, the Government announced it would make £17.3bn available for research into robotics and AI by British Universities.
There are also positive signs that venture capital in London is investing increasingly in robotics. However, more must be done.
While, long-term, greater uptake of robotics is inevitable in UK manufacturing, the opportunity to innovate is now. Robotics could transform much of the UK’s manufacturing sector.
Here at Finch Electronics we specialise in bringing ideas to life. If you have a robotics project you want to launch, or you want full collaborative support in prototyping ready for market, then please contact us.