A report by Barclays Bank has identified three major barriers that are preventing UK manufacturers from investing in robotics and automation.
The bank surveyed manufacturers in the north east of the country, finding that 57% have already invested in robotics and automation, with 66% saying there are opportunities for further investment.
However, the top three barriers to investment were found to be: the need to invest in other capital expenditure projects (28%), the lack of need to invest in automation (21%) and a lack of flexibility in automated and robotic equipment (25%).
When asked what factors would incentivise them to invest, over one in ten manufacturers (13%) highlighted the need to reduce the cost of automated and robotic equipment solutions, 16% said they needed greater access to external funding and 21% said they required more flexible equipment.
The Barclays Future-proofing UK Manufacturing
report argues that if an additional £1.2bn were spent nationally over the next decade on increasing robotics and automation in manufacturing, it could add as much as £60.5bn to the UK economy, while creating new opportunities for manufacturers across the region. That would help the manufacturing sector to grow by £38bn to £191bn by 2025, and would safeguard more than 100,000 jobs,
The report also revealed that investing in automation technology would increase the international competitiveness of the UK’s manufacturing sector; as a result of additional investment, the industry would be worth £191bn in 2025, £8.6bn more than currently projected and a 19.6% increase on today.
Lee Collinson, Barclays managing director for business and corporate bank in Yorkshire and the North East, said: “To reap these rewards we need to address some of the barriers to investment, including the need for more user-friendly and flexible technology, addressing skills barriers within the sector, and supporting manufacturers to access the funding and information already available to them for robotics investment.”