In a report entitled ‘Future-proofing UK manufacturing’, Barclays predicts that investments in robotics and automation will boost the British economy to an enormous extent. Investments of £1bn could pay off 60 fold in the next 10 years, the report revealed and this would lead to huge growth in manufacturing industries in the UK, the bank thinks.

Who is going to benefit?

It has been predicted that the pharmaceutical industry will benefit most greatly from the increase in automation. The food production sector is also high on the list. Both these industries rely heavily on automated machines and have many tasks that could be done by such machines. As a result, with increased research and development in automation, both industries can be run more efficiently and effectively.

Although it is natural to think the increased use of robotics will result in job losses due to machines doing jobs currently carried out by human employees, the opposite could in fact be true. In years to come, many thousands of jobs in the manufacturing sector will be protected due to the growing demand in that area.

This will cause an automatic positive chain reaction in employment sectors, including raw materials, research and development, logistics and retail. More money will also be put back into the economy through spending on the robotic products that are available commercially.

Already Underway

Over half of British manufacturing companies already invest in researching and developing robotics. Around two-thirds of these investors believe their business has benefited from the use of automated machines. Barclays is keen to highlight issues standing in the way of increased investment in this field. Many were brought to light in the survey.

British manufacturing companies maintain that both the technology and the skills in the robotics sector must be improved. Also, more support should be given to industries so that they have easier access to the information they require about available funding for investment into robotics. Companies also expressed concerns on returns for their investments and the effect it will have on the morale of their employees.

But despite these concerns, increased investments in automation could improve manufacturing, packaging, and even delivery processes for many industries. It could also have many positive knock-on effects on our economy.