The annual sales of industrial robots for 2012 have beaten any other year to date reports the British Automation and Robot Association (BARA – part of the PPMA Group of Trade Associations). The first two quarters were mainly responsible for the majority of the annual sales and once again the automotive and automotive components sectors have been the main source.
2011 was a record year for Robot sales at 1,336 industrial robots being sold from the major suppliers, but 2012 has by far exceeded this figure with 2,476 units being sold. Mike Wilson chairman of BARA said “whilst this is good news and the automotive sector has unsurprisingly generated most of these sales, we are witnessing only a modest upward trend over the last few years in the uptake of automation and robotics across other sectors. The Pharmaceutical industry being the strongest with growth of 115% over last year’s result.”
Grant Collier Head of Marketing for BARA, and responsible for the Automating Manufacturing Programme – a government initiative to persuade UK companies to automate and remain competitive, said “we have seen a tremendous level of interest from all sectors for the use of automation with the funds from the programme now almost completely allocated. An increasing number of the companies that applied have asked for a further detailed review of their processes, but it’s still early days in seeing whether these appraisals actually turn into actual orders for automation and robotics systems”. He continued “the government has increased the capital allowance tenfold from £25,000 to £250,000 meaning there has never been a better time to invest in this technology”.
Other sector variances include Electronics which is up by 76% and the Food and Drink industry which is disappointingly down by 22% since 2011. The main consensus is that there is much interest from the Food and Drinks sector in automation but the major supermarkets continue to apply short contracts and the retain the ability to change packaging design with little notice. Whilst the latter is not the problem it once was with the programmability of automation and robotic systems, these issues have become an increasingly reported barrier to investing in automation by this sector.