Labour Shortages, Automation & Cobots


April 2019

The most prominent issue facing UK manufacturing today is the ongoing skills and labour shortage. This has been intensified over the past few years by the political turmoil around Brexit, which has led to uncertainty around the continuation of access to foreign labour, which UK manufacturers are heavily reliant on. This, paired with an aging workforce and the lack of new blood entering the industry has led to serious concern for manufacturers struggling to maintain operational and profitable in the future.

Manufacturers are in a desperate need for an alternative plan to tackle labour and skills shortages which are likely to escalate in the coming years. Flexible automation, such as collaborative robots, can help ease the uncertainty by taking over the most repetitive manual tasks previously occupied by human workers, without putting a strain on budgets. Rather than replacing humans, cobots offer a practical tool for humans to increase efficiency whilst allowing employees to be upskilled to more rewarding jobs that require creativity and human intuition.


Investing in flexible automation has a number of advantages, as robots can run 24 hours a day without supervision and undertake repetitive tasks for long periods without getting bored or developing repetitive strain injuries from picking and placing heavy objects. By removing the most strenuous and monotonous jobs, the work undertaken by human employees becomes much more rewarding and thus attractive for new recruits.

This also means that businesses can have a higher output at a lower cost, without having to hire more workers. This is especially important within the manufacturing sector as the price of raw materials is increasing, therefore any opportunity to lower costs is attractive.



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