The new World Robotics 2020 Industrial Robots
report presented by the International Federation of Robotics
(IFR) shows a record of around 21,700 industrial robots were operating in factories around the UK at the end of 2019 – an increase of 5% over the previous year.
However, sales of new robots slowed with 2,000 units shipped in 2019 — 16% less compared to 2018.
Milton Guerry, President of the International Federation of Robotics, said: “The UK has a surprisingly low robot stock for a Western European country in the manufacturing industry.
“Though the UK´s operational stock hit a new record, other European countries like France, Italy and Germany have between two-times and even ten-times the stock in operation.
“The automotive and the general industry need to invest in automation technology to keep up with international competition.”
The IFR says that the automotive industry is by far the largest user of industrial robots in the UK. At the end of 2019, this industry accounted for 52% of the total operational stock of robots (11,000 units).
With 13% of the operational stock, the plastics and chemical industry was the second largest user of industrial robots (2,710 units).
Even without the Coronavirus crisis, investments in the UK were already dampened because of the currently unclear Brexit situation.
The report says that the uncertainty inhibits the necessary modernisation of manufacturing production facilities. It will also determine the speed of economic recovery after the pandemic.
Again, short-run figures will be impacted by the Covid-19 situation, which will likely see rising unemployment. When the economy recovers and labour becomes a scarce resource again, the demand for robots could start to rise.