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Leading UK Tec Businessman Criticises Paralysis During Brexit Distractions
Fears over Brexit are clouding the judgement of British businesses at a time when they can ill afford procrastination and stagnation.
Antony Lovedale, MD of Active8 Robots in Somerset, has criticised some industrialists for ‘head in the sand’ paralysis while blaming uncertainties over Brexit.
“Industry can’t stand still and wait to see what happens for the next two years while the rest of the world moves on.” says Antony. “We should get on with dealing with what we do know, no matter what happens with Brexit, we know we will be competing in a worldwide market and now is a critical time for large and small businesses to get competitive”
Antony cites figures from his own industry as evidence that there is no time to waste. Active8 Robots specialises in the latest range of Robots that is revolutionising production businesses worldwide. These robots are small, inexpensive and use the latest Artificial Intelligence (AI) so they can be used by employees with little training. This technology is revolutionising production, packaging and research industries with it’s flexibility, able to perform a multitude of tasks for their owners and their ability to collaborate with humans or other parts of a production line.
“For example, businesses just can’t get enough people to perform some tasks, especially if they're dirty, dangerous or dull. The Sawyer Collaborative Robot can be programmed in minutes and will do the task, maintenance free, 24 hours a day. Not only that, it will learn from thousands of robots worldwide through AI to learn the most effective ways to perform the task you have set it. It’s also able to sense its surroundings so it doesn’t need to be caged off. If someone bumps into a Sawyer Robot, it stops until it’s safe to carry on.”
The Sawyer has an amiable look and has a human like face to make it easier to collaborate with workers. Perhaps Active8 Robots should consider programming their robots for the British market to say “Sorry” when someone bumps into it? The biggest worry that Antony sees for British businesses is that they are placing R & D, product development or investment on hold for Brexit while the rest of the world is investing heavily in this technology.
““The Chinese have recognised this and is subsidising the introduction of Collaborative Robots with companies receiving cash payments for every one installed. It is going to be a major driver of Trump’s US industrial revival to use this technology to make the US more efficient”
The Chancellor highlighted stagnant productivity in the autumn budget last year, these robots certainly seem like the low hanging fruit in this fight.
“Collaborative Robots are a quick win for productivity, with an average ROI of 6-8 months” says Antony
“Productivity isn’t everything but in the long run it is almost everything,” said Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, in 1994.
Industrial robots used to be the bastion of big business. They were big and expensive to buy, operate and maintain, meaning only large scale industry could benefit from efficiencies but today’s Collaborative Robots can make a huge difference to businesses large and small with some of the best costing as little as £28.000. According to the International Federation of Robotics, China consumed over 118.000 industrial robots in 2017, which represents around a third of the world market. It is expected that annual growth of Collaborative Robots in China and North America will grow by 22.1% and 20.4% this year and increase annually. For the Chinese, this technology is seen as a way to improve working conditions and start to make the change from a low cost labour market. It is difficult to see how they could fail to quickly become the most productive and wealthiest nation on earth. Conversely, UK Government figures show that Britain spend less on fixed capital investment than any other G7 nation. It is a key plan in the government's industrial strategy to help the growth of small to medium enterprises in the UK, who would benefit the most from these technologies.
The worldwide productivity race is accelerating and UK Government should consider how it can help British industry rapidly take up this opportunity instead of falling further behind. Using the opportunities afforded by the upcoming Brexit, instead of worrying about what we may lose, can ultimately be the only way to benefit from the supposed benefits of the Euro divorce.
Sawyer robot testimonial
"...we were having a very difficult time to get people to work, especially on the off shifts on the injection moulding floor....there was some nervousness because it was new but now they're very accepting...enjoy interacting with him, he [Sawyer Robot] shows up every day to work, he doesn't complain and he does his job every single day....Our customers are trusting us to be able to support their business, so we have to find a way to meet their needs. We've been able to achieve that through innovation, technology and Robotics. "
General Manager Tennplasco