With the Bank of England revealing that the UK economy contracted by 20.4% in April, many SMEs and larger multi-nationals are being pushed to find new ways to gain a competitive advantage in a post-COVID-19 world.
Prior to the UK Government’s imposed lockdown on 23 March, the UK manufacturing sector was already bracing itself for life outside of the single market, as more companies were looking at automation as a means of increasing efficiency and reducing risk.
In Q1 of 2020, a BARA study reported that the number of industrial robots sold for delivery in the UK had increased to 1,064 – the highest rise since Q2 of 2012 (1,077). 980 of which were six axis-type robots and three quarters of the 1,064 deployed were for material handling applications.
The automotive sector has typically been a strong buyer of robot automation, which accounted for 58% (620 robots) of the sales in Q1. And while the automotive and aerospace sectors have been hit hard by the COVID-pandemic, there is at least some room for optimism that the new technology will enable many factories and assembly plants to deal with social distancing, without hampering productivity.
In addition, many companies are looking at reshoring a large proportion (if not all) of their business activities which could lead to a further increase of the number of industrial robot sales sold in the UK later this year.
With thanks to:
ABB, Aylesbury Automation, ComauUK, FANUC, Kawasaki Robotics, Kuka Robotics, Nachi, Olympus, Omron, RAR UK Automation, Stäubli, TM Robotics, and Yaskawa.