22 July, 2024

AI and Machine learning set to boost Industry’s automation push

17 January, 2024

Manufacturers are set to see a surge in the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning as they push for greater automation and improvements in productivity, efficiency and quality according to a new survey publishedat the end of last year by Make UK and Infor

The survey shows that companies are increasing their investment in automation across a broad range of technologies and functions from manufacturing processes to product design and development. These investments are set to accelerate in the next two years with greater automation leading to an increase in higher levels of skills and more than a quarter of companies (28%) saying they will have less need for lower skilled roles.

However, despite this positive picture most manufacturers believe the UK is failing to keep up with competitors, while significant barriers to further automation remain in the shape of a lack of technical skills, data integration and workplace culture.

In response, Make UK is urging the Government to roll out the successful Made Smarter scheme nationwide to help SMEs adopt digital technologies, as well as work with companies to address the continued shortfall of technical skills in the workforce and reform of the Apprentice Levy.

Commenting, Verity Davidge, Director of Policy at Make UK, said: “The adoption of AI, automation and other game changing technologies by manufacturers is rapidly accelerating and will provide vital pieces in solving the productivity puzzle. But there is still more to be done to match our competitors, especially among SMEs who face far greater hurdles in adopting digital technology. As well as tackling the digital skills barrier which remains the biggest hurdle, Government should roll out the Made Smarter scheme across the UK. This has a proven success in delivering step change for SMEs on their automation journey.”

Andrew Kinder, SVP, Industry Strategy, Infor added: “We are seeing a substantial shift in the adoption of digital automation as manufacturers seek to improve efficiency, instill agility and drive greater productivity. While generative AI is still in its relative infancy, intent to capitalise on it is incredibly encouraging with many companies saying they are ‘aware of and planning to use’ the technology.

“Actions, however, speak louder than words. While the government clearly has a role to play in supporting AI adoption, manufacturers have an opportunity to take control in bridging the gap between intent and value in creating first-mover advantage. The technologies are now widely available, affordable, and come with a typically fast return on investment, which all help manufacturers compete in increasingly challenging conditions.”

According to the survey, more than half of companies (55%) have already implemented or, are planning to implement, AI and Machine Learning to automate decision making processes and improve operational efficiency. In addition, four fifths of companies have already introduced or, are planning to introduce, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality techniques in areas such as design and prototyping.

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