The food industry in the UK is failing to exploit the potential of automation and robotics to achieve cost reductions and production efficiencies, according to a major survey.
The ‘Appetite for Automation’ survey reveals the ‘untapped potential’ of automation for food manufacturers.
The survey set out to explore why – despite being the UK’s largest manufacturing sector – the UK food industry invests comparatively little in automation compared to its counterparts in other industries. More than 400 senior industry engineers and decision makers were invited to participate in qualitative interviews.
Most of the senior engineering personnel in UK food companies interviewed believe that market pressures will prompt the industry to turn more to automation within the next five years or so.
The survey concludes that many manufacturers would benefit from greater knowledge of the potential applications and wider commercial benefits of automation.
“There are clearly some real opportunities for those companies with vision to get ahead and steal competitive advantage,” says David Bradford, managing director of RTS Flexible Systems, which sponsored the survey.
A key outcome of the survey has been the suggestion that the industry could benefit by developing new methodologies for justifying Return on Investment in automation projects to take account of their full commercial impact.
‘Appetite for Automation’ was conducted in association with The British Automation and Robotics Association, Food Processing Faraday Partnership and the North West Food Alliance.