The concept of automation and its benefits to industry were discussed at the recent ‘Automated Britain – The Renaissance of UK Manufacturing’ event staged in London by Intellect and GAMBICA. The event explored whether there are any perceived obstacles that discourage industry from making more investments of this type.

Keynote speakers included Mark Prisk MP, the Minister of State for Business and Enterprise and Juergen Maier, managing director of Siemens UK Industry. Case studies were presented by automation companies such as ABB, Emerson, Honeywell, Rockwell and Siemens in tandem with the manufacturers that use their technology.

The event was held just as Nissan made its announcement that it is to invest £125 million into building its new concept model at the Sunderland factory. Mark Prisk told the conference: “Nissan estimates that the investment will create and safeguard 2,000 jobs. That news is, in my book, a real vote of confidence in the UK automotive sector. It vindicates the decision we took to put manufacturing back at the heart of our economic strategy.”

Prisk outlined some of the initiatives  taken by the UK Government to illustrate its commitment to science, research and technology. 

Juergen Maier said, that despite being excellent at process improvement, the UK does not take full advantage of the technologies available in the same way as other European countries. He forewarned that automation could become UK manufacturing’s Achilles heel.

The subsequent presentations and panel discussions, many of which focused on the impact of automation on jobs in the UK, all seemed to reach the same conclusions. From end users to MPs and manufacturers to trade bodies the view was clear; the UK’s Achilles heel can also be its jobs lifeline, provided we invest in and manage the process intelligently.