The UK is languishing far down world rankings that measure robotic density – a metric utilized by the Worldwide Federation of Robotics to measure the variety of robots per 10,000 staff in an business.
Robots play a elementary position in manufacturing and an more and more vital position in different sectors. The fourth industrial revolution is effectively underway, and we should not be left behind. I consider the federal government should act urgently to spend money on automation know-how and reverse this decline which is why I’m calling for a robotic taskforce.
I’ve tabled an modification to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Invoice calling on the federal government to think about a taskforce “to extend efficient use of robotics and automation and scale back disparities between geographical areas on this regard”.
This isn’t in regards to the rise of the robots coming for our jobs – removed from it – that is about coverage makers understanding that to profit from the alternatives of future applied sciences we have to work out find out how to work with robots – or maybe we should always say ‘co-bots’.
Regardless of the UK’s robust manufacturing business, we now have low (and falling) annual robotic set up counts.
Not solely are our robotic density statistics (what number of robots per 10,000 workers) extremely low in world rankings – in all classes – however we’re additionally bucking the pattern of fixed progress seen elsewhere.
Newest knowledge from the Worldwide Federation of Robotics present that annual installations of commercial robots in Europe has almost doubled from 43,826 in 2011 to 84,302 in 2021 in a reasonably regular upward trajectory. In the identical interval within the UK annual installations greater than doubled between 2011 and 2012 – from 1, 514 to 2,943 – however has fallen since then to 2,054 in 2021, down 7% on 2020 figures.
Within the manufacturing business robotic density was 111 robots per 10,000 workers in 2021, which could be very low for a Western European nation and the bottom G7 nation. As compared: the Republic of Korea had 1,000 per 10,000 workers, Singapore 670, Japan 399, Germany 397, China 322, and the US 274.
Once more, regardless of our custom as a distinguished producer of vehicles, in 2021, robotic installations within the automotive business had been down by 42% to 507 items and we had simply 824 robots per 10,000 workers in operation. As compared: Germany had 1,500 robots per 10,000 workers within the automotive business and at primary the Republic of Korea has 2,867 robots per 10,000 workers.
Typically business there have been solely 60 robots per 10,000 workers. All different Western and Northern European international locations, besides Portugal, Spain, and Norway, had greater than 100 robots per 10,000 workers. In Different comparative knowledge is stark: the Rep of Korea had 805, China 298, Sweden 258, Germany 233, and Denmark 230.
The UK has a productiveness downside and is going through an enormous labour scarcity. As an alternative of viewing robots as a risk to jobs we should perceive that we have to study to work with them as co-bots. Robots are finally productiveness creators and job makers. We desperately must spend money on abilities and each the automotive and basic business must spend money on automation know-how.
The highest 5 world robotics traits in 2023 are: elevated vitality effectivity, reshoring (resembling relocating microchip manufacturing again to the US and Europe), simpler to make use of for non-experts, AI and digital automation and second life for industrial robots. These traits emphasize each the chance and the need for being way more proactive close to robotics on this nation.
In responding to my proposed modification through the debate within the Home of Lords, the Minister agreed with my evaluation of the issue and spoke about some initiatives on this space:
“It’s completely true that the UK lags behind the worldwide common with regards to adopting robotics know-how and that is holding again UK manufacturing and productiveness.”
The Minister additionally stated…
“I am in full settlement with my noble buddy in wanting extra producers to undertake know-how that can enhance productiveness and stimulate progress, resembling robotics and automation, and we now have programmes that assist them to do that.
“This consists of the Made Smarter programme, which has dedicated virtually £200 million in funding to producers—giant, small and medium enterprises—to develop new know-how options and undertake current tech, together with robotics and autonomous methods.
“The £24 million Made Smarter adoption programme is offered to manufacturing small and medium enterprises within the north-west, the north-east, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the east Midlands and West Midlands areas. The programme gives professional recommendation, grant funding and management coaching to SMEs to assist them undertake robotics, automation and autonomous methods, in addition to different industrial digital applied sciences that may enhance productiveness and progress.
“We convene a Robotics Development Partnership, chaired by Professor David Lane and Paul Clarke, which works with robotics and autonomous methods sector leaders throughout academia and business to place the UK on the reducing fringe of the sensible robotics revolution ambition, turbocharging—as we want to name it—financial productiveness and unlocking advantages throughout society.
“Final yr the Robotics Development Partnership printed a imaginative and prescient for cyber bodily infrastructure, and the Authorities will shortly publish their session response on that topic.”
While I used to be grateful to the Minister for his response, and for reminding us of some optimistic strikes by the federal government, it’s not sufficient.
We’d like a goal as a result of we ought to be on the rostrum. I’ll proceed to name on the federal government to do extra as a result of the robots aren’t coming, the robots are right here, and we should step up and be a part of the longer term that’s occurring now.