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‘Commitment’ is key to changing UK culture on automation

Fauc’s head of UK sales Oliver Selby gave a keynote speech at Smart Factory Expo’s Automation & Robotics Acceleration Symposium

Posted on 13 Jun 2024. Edited by: John Hunter. Read 464 times.
‘Commitment’ is key to changing UK culture on automationAt Smart Factory Expo which took place last week (5-6 June) at the NEC, Birmingham, Coventry-based www.fanuc.eu/uk/en/who-we-are/uk-country-landing-page Fanuc UK said ‘commitment’ is the number one driver to help inspire a change in culture towards robotics and automation among British manufacturers.

Fauc UK’s head of sales Oliver Selby gave the keynote speech at the event’s Automation & Robotics Acceleration Symposium and said a change in culture was needed to ensure continued UK manufacturing success, calling for commitment towards skills and education across all levels – from students to top-level management – as well as the need for a long-term automation investment strategy. He added: “Despite being the eighth largest manufacturing nation, the UK is 25th in terms of robotics adoption. Just imagine what we could achieve if we raised our automation levels.”

Citing a difference in attitude towards investment in robotics between the UK and many of the leading automated countries, Mr Selby believes the UK has much to learn in terms of best practice. He said: “In countries such as Germany, Japan and the USA, automation is prioritised from the outset of any new manufacturing project – it is not an afterthought. Furthermore, in Scandinavia, a realistic view on payback periods (as well as a realisation that total cost of ownership is a better measure of value than ROI) sees companies prioritising a long-term investment strategy around automation. Of course, government support also plays a large part, and in this regard, we are playing catch-up. However, it is not too late to make a change if all stakeholders work together.”

A focus on learning

Increasing education around automation – at every level – is also crucial to boosting robotics uptake. Mr Selby continued: “Within firms, particularly SMEs, it is essential that a range of staff are trained and educated on the benefits that the right automation solution can deliver. Whether that is the finance department, engineering or operational staff, management, board members and even the owner, everyone has something to learn.”

This commitment to education also extends to inspiring the next generation of engineers and ensuring they are equipped with the skills that will be needed by modern manufacturers. To this end, Fanuc has partnered with WorldSkills UK for the fourth time, in the Industrial Robotics competition. The qualifying rounds for this year’s contest took place live at Smart Factory Expo and saw the 12 highest ranking teams compete in a 3.5hr challenge to pick and place 10 cylinders, following a pre-set robotic pathway.

Mr Selby said: “We are extremely proud of our partnership with WorldSkills UK and watching the talented young competitors complete the qualifying challenge was very rewarding. The five best teams will go on to compete in the WorldSkills UK final at the Fanuc Open House event at our Coventry headquarters in November, while the ultimate winners will have the chance to represent Squad UK in the global competition.”

Attracting over 7,000 visitors on day one alone, Smart Factory Expo showcased the finest technologies and solutions available to manufacturers today. For Fanuc, the event proved highly successful, bringing multiple new leads across sectors as diverse as medical, semi-conducting, bakery, confectionery and plastics.

Mr Selby concluded: “With over 35 system integrator partners, we are well placed to support manufacturing firms from every corner of industry. Our stand featured five of our key partners and enabled us to showcase the added value that Fanuc can bring beyond supplying automation technology. The event was busy across both days and brought quality leads to our door, as well as allowing us to demonstrate the value of the WorldSkills UK initiative. We are already looking forward to what next year’s show will bring.”