July 24, 2012      

The UK’s PPMA group, comprised of four trade associations (Processing and Packaging Machinery Association, British Automation and Robot Association, Polymer Machinery Manufacturers and Distributors Association, UK Industrial Vision Association) reports that while robot sales for the first two quarters of 2012 have boomed in the automotive sector, a reluctance to integrate robotics in other market areas is causing the UK to trail competitor countries in the progression of highly automated manufacturing procedures.

PROCESS ENGINEERING?In the first quarter robot sales of 923 units were recorded which is larger than the annual total for many of the previous years. The second quarter brought this figure to 2000 for the half year end.

However, automotive and automotive-component orders contributed 85% of this figure in the first quarter, and 89% of the sales in the second.

This trend appears to be continuing, at least in the short term. Whilst in most other sectors robot sales are increasing, the growth still remains sluggish and in some sectors in sporadic decline.

Mike Wilson, British Automation and Robot Association Chairman said ?whilst we welcome the level of robot orders from the automotive sector largely driven by product demand in global emerging markets, it is a real concern that other sectors are still not understanding the potential implications of not automating.”

“Other countries such as China, Germany and most of the major European manufacturing nations are investing heavily in automation to sustain competitive advantage?. He continued. ?Part of the problem in the UK is a short term approach and the perception that the pay back period is longer than it often is.?

However, the Government?s drive to automate UK manufacturing is going well, according to Grant Collier, head of marketing for the PPMA Group of Associations.

?Over 220 manufacturers around the UK have taken up the Government funded Automating Manufacturing Programme which shows manufacturers how they can benefit from automation,? said Collier.

Applications to date have come from a wide range of industries, including over one third from the food sector which is surprising since this has traditionally been an area very slow to adopt automation, he added.