Sales of robots from January to March 2012 have outstripped sales in any other quarter to date.
Unfortunately the picture is not as good as it seems. The continuing success of the automotive industry in the UK is leading to record orders for robots. However, other sectors are not yet realising the benefits that increased use of robots do provide.
In the first quarter robot sales of 923 units were recorded which is larger than the annual total for many of the previous years. Automotive orders contributed 85% of this figure. Mike Wilson, British Automation and Robot Association chairman said: "These large investments show the commitment of the automotive companies to their UK manufacturing facilities." He continued: "However, robot sales in some other sectors, such as food and drink, are not keeping up with the increasing use of robots worldwide. Automotive continuing to buy robots is not a particular surprise – 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”.
Grant Collier, head of marketing for the PPMA Group of Associations added: "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.” Applications to date have come from a wide range of industries, including a significant number from the food sector. He added, "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."
Application for an automation review is via a simple form, taking only a couple of minutes. The form and further details of the programme can be found at www.automatingmanufacturing.co.uk.