Drives & Controls January 2024

n TALKING INDUSTRY Developments in robotics and automation The last Talking Industry* online panel discussion of 2023 revisited one of the series’ most popular topics: robotics and automation. Consultant editor Andy Pye, who chaired the session, reports on some of the issues covered. Talking Industry 42 January 2024 Until now, most UK manufacturing businesses have failed to capitalise on the opportunities presented by automation and industrial robots. Recent research by the Boston Consulting Group has identi ed a signi cant gap between the ambitions of companies to adopt robots and the actual implementation of these systems. But the robotics and automation industry in the UK is still expanding, despite the continuing shortage of workers with the right skills to meet industry demand. Our three panellists for the session were Nikesh Mistry from Gambica, John Mackey from Siemens, and Gary Livingstone, CEO of LG Motion, who was making his Talking Industry debut. As the UK distributor for the Taiwanese cobot manufacturer Techman Robots, Gary Livingstone has had many conversations with companies looking to integrate robot technologies into their businesses. While what he calls the information-toimplementation gap can be signi cant, he feels it is closing fast. “Robotics, autonomous and automation systems have the potential to bring signi cant opportunities to reduce costs and improve eˆciency,” he said during the online discussion. “Robots are not a silver bullet to solve every application, so to bridge the gap between ambition and implementation, it is crucial for businesses to conduct a thorough cost-bene t analysis, particularly focussing on employee training and upskilling. The key thing is to foster a culture of innovation and adaptation to overcome resistance to change." John Mackey highlighted Siemens’ role in supporting customers in industry to adopt digitalisation technologies such as robotics, simulation, arti cial intelligence or edge computing. “As Gary has mentioned,” he said, “there is this dichotomy of the skill set needed to get robots applications up and running, versus potentially where the robots are then coming in to do potentially lowskilled work – in essence, repeatable tasks. “The robot density in the UK (robots per 10,000 workers) is way behind every other G7 country – we are 24th in the world. One really good study (the World Robotics Report) looks at the industry verticals where robots are used – mainly in the ‘glamour industries’ of electrical/electronic manufacturing and automotive. “But we're starting to see some wider demands, in particular on the back of Covid,” Mackey continued. “In industries such as food and beverage, the potential for robots is massive. However, the adoption of robots in this vertical is still only around 5% of worldwide robot usage.” Gambica’s Nikesh Mistry covered STEM skills. “Gambica is a UK trade association for industrial automation process, instrumentation and control, and test and measurement,”he explained. “Siemens is one of our most active members! There are several diŸerent reports out currently. A recent one in which Gambica was involved was produced by the MTA and covers recommending to the government how to equip our future workforce. “There are 10 key recommendations within that report,” Mistry continued. “We are providing SMEs with higher incentives to deliver T levels, and funding campaigns towards STEM subjects. We want to roll out better use of the apprenticeship levy to help support wider investment in education and training. Those are key areas, which we need to address as an industry to ensure that those skills are where they need to be and to make sure that our workforce has the right skills for the future.” After identifying robot programming as a key area where the UK has a skills shortage, the session concluded by answering questions from the audience. n * Talking Industry is sponsored by the Drives & Controls exhibition, taking place from 4-6 June 2024 at the NEC in Birmingham, in association with Smart Manufacturing and Engineering Week 2024. Now available as a podcast If you missed this Talking Industry Webinar, there are various ways to catch up. It available as an on-demand video on YouTube ( and also as a podcast (via The online panel On the panel for this Webinar were: • Nikesh Mistry, Sector Head for Industrial Automation, Gambica • John Mackey, Digitalisation Sales Specialist, Siemens • Gary Livingstone, CEO, LG Motion • Andy Pye, Webinar Chair and Consultant Editor, DFA Manufacturing Media