The International Federation of Robots (IFR) has announced that worldwide use of robots has doubled in the last five years. While still well below the global average, the UK’s use of robots has risen over 42% in the same period and continues to grow.

Published at the end of 2021, the IFR’s World Robot Report states that there are now 126 robots per 10,000 employees worldwide. In 2015, this was 66 units – up 90.9%. Asia and Australia lead the list of innovative continents with 134 units, followed by Europe at 123 units.

However, Europe’s figures are boosted by Germany and Sweden, who are among the top five most automated countries in the world. The UK is not innovating as quickly, with 101 units per 10,000 employees. This figure was 71 units five years ago, so as well as being placed low at 24th in the list of innovators, UK growth isn’t keeping pace with global average growth either.

UK’s use of robots

We wrote last year about the UK falling behind in automation. Reasons for this included:

  • Fear of the unknown or making a change
  • Lack of investment
  • Lack of available space

However, since then, the government has introduced the super-deduction incentive on automation machinery, which runs until March 2023, which reduces the risk of investing. In addition, as automation becomes more prolific, prices decrease and the payback period can even come in under a year.

Impact of Covid on robot use

In the same IFR report, we can see that global robot sales are still climbing, and in fact may have been boosted by the pandemic. Despite the many challenges companies faced with Covid, automation facilitated business continuity.

The future is now

Dave Wood, MD of PALpack, observes, “The new normal centres on boosting productivity and performance while focusing on sustainability.”

The IFR notes that “robots continue to move beyond traditional manufacturing into logistics and warehouses, laboratories, workshops, and small production environments” and SMEs are beginning to adopt automation. For many industries, this is facilitated by the flexibility offered by the development of automation which can offer mass customisation.

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