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Despite recent pushes from the government to boost the UK’s manufacturing output and productivity through initiatives such as the Industrial Strategy, robot sales in fact fell by 3% in 2018. Only 2,306 units were sold in the UK during 2018 despite robot sales increasing by 31% between 2016-17, according to the IFR’s report.
In terms of robot density, the UK also continues to underperform when compared to similarly sized economies. The UK ranks 22nd worldwide with a robot density of 85 units per 10,000 employees – the equivalent of the worldwide average. This is despite Europe having the highest density by region, 106 robots per 10,000 employees. Countries that have a higher robot density than the UK include Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Canada, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, France, and China which overtook the UK in 2017.
Europe’s robot density was higher than both North America, 91 robots per 10,000 employees, and Asia, 75 robots per 10,000. Sales of robots also increased in the European Union by 12% – a positive number that continues the trend of recent years.
The results of the report are worrying for the UK at a time when manufacturing needs to increase output and improve productivity. Robots and automation are an obvious answer to the decreasing numbers of skilled workers and companies should be looking to increase investments in robotics. The fact that the UK is so far behind countries with equally sized or smaller economies is particularly concerning due to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and what the manufacturing sector will look like following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
Hopefully the findings of future IFR reports make for better reading as schemes, such as the Industrial Strategy, come to fruition. For now, though, the UK still has plenty to do if it wishes to be a competitive manufacturer in the world.
You can read more about the IFR’s report, including quotes from international experts, on the PBSI website: https://bit.ly/2HIpoHS
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