The same innovative solutions that helped manufacturers survive the pandemic are now ensuring businesses can maintain pace and productivity in the face of new market challenges.
The use of automation – which first helped businesses navigate staffing challenges caused by skills gaps, visa restraints and national lockdowns – is now being accelerated to weather more recent issues of rising energy and material costs.
Automated solutions helped manufacturers cope with staffing shortages or manage risk at the height of the pandemic. For example, food producers turning to robotics to replace or limit human contact with goods.
Now businesses increasingly see the value of capex investment in automated robotics to complete routine, manual tasks consistently, precisely and reliably. These technologies improve efficiencies, productivity and safety on a shop floor.
Increased operational efficiencies – and improved end-products for consumers – are fuelling the adoption of Industry 4.0, as industries increasingly introduce more artificial intelligence and advanced robotics.
As such the UK Factory Automation & Industrial Control Systems market is growing fast – expected to record a CAGR of around 10.05% annually over the next four years to top £13.8bn by 2026.
Globally, the market for industrial robots could reach £24bn by 2028, recording a CAGR of more than 10%, annually according to Fortune Business Insights. It grew by 5.5% in 2020 alone.
Governments around the world are also recognising the value of investing in manufacturing infrastructure, including developing smart systems and delivering automation. This will not only address immediate challenges but also drive innovation and boost output.
In the UK, reshoring sectors like manufacturing and food production, for political, environmental and economic reasons, will further accelerate the growth of robotics.
More than 80% of SMEs are considering investment in robotics now too – according to a survey of 250 businesses by ABB Robotics.
The future of robotics will be driven by data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence. The integration of these technologies with automation creates sophisticated, intuitive solutions able to self-identify and self-correct errors by establishing patterns and identifying any changes in their function.
Additionally, the robotics industry’s future is also set to be shaped by the sectors it will support, not least the ‘new’ sectors now adopting automation. Automotive and electronics businesses are no longer the sole drivers leaning on the robotics industry, with agriculture, food, healthcare and pharma seeking out automated robotics solutions. And up to 17.5% of manufacturing roles could be automated by 2026, research by Faethm has found.
But just as sectors like manufacturing, automotive and agriculture have staffing and supply chain challenges to contend with, so too do the specialists supplying the solutions. To meet the growing demand for automation and robotics, the operations and supply chains for manufacturers must work well too.
With a focus on working to net zero commitments and supporting UK businesses, manufacturers of robotics are also looking to reshore their own supply chains. They are also sourcing specialist parts domestically, to develop bespoke robotics or bulk machinery and keep pace with the market’s growth while producing equipment which is affordable, sustainable and deployable.
Working with reliable suppliers allows manufacturers to quickly develop and integrate automated robotics.
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