Automation and process specialist Fanuc has held its inaugural Open House event at its UK headquarters, located in the Manufacturing and Technology Centre (MTC) at Ansty Park.
Fanuc completed the move to its new 107,000 sq ft location in early 2017. As part of this first open house, the centre featured a series of process automation demonstrations, plus an example of the all-electric Fanuc Roboshot 450 injection moulding machine.
The three-day event featured panel discussions and presentations on a series of overarching topics, including training and upskilling, barriers to automation adoption and the future of automation.
Speakers included David Hughes MBE, deputy director of apprenticeships at MTC, and Bob Hinchcliffe, council member at the British Automation and Robot Association (BARA). Mark Pawsey, MP for Rugby and Bulkington, was also scheduled to speak.
While at the event, PRW spoke with Tom Bouchier, managing director at Fanuc UK. He noted that the reason for the open house was to increase awareness of automation and how it could help make UK manufacturing more competitive.
“We’ve got everything we need in this country, great engineers, great inventors, a great workforce. But we sometimes lack the investment strategy. We see [automation] as a way to help grow UK manufacturing,” Bouchier said.
He added that manufacturers in this country should not fear automation, but instead they should fear not being able to automate. “The automation genie has been let out of the bottle and you can’t put it back in. It exists, so either we use it or someone else will.”
In speaking about the current depth of automation in the UK, Bouchier highlighted how far the country has fallen behind the global automation average. “We’re the only G7 country below the worldwide average [in robotics penetration]. The average is about 99 robots per 10,000 workers, we’re at 91. I think Germany is at 390 per 10,000 workers, and they’re continuing to grow ahead of the worldwide average,” he said.
In closing, Bouchier added: “The reason for the Fanuc Open House is to try and get rid of as many negative perceptions of automation as we can. There’s a list, the 10 reasons for not automating, jobs, cost, etc. They’re an urban myth. I want an opportunity to respond to each of those points.”