UK lagging behind in industrial robot use, study finds

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The UK is using fewer robots in industry and is falling behind as a result, according to new research by supply-chain technology company Balloon One.

The company compared the UK’s productivity to other nations with similar manufacturing output, and its findings highlighted that the UK is behind for robot density and unable to achieve the same work rate.

Balloon One looked at data from the nations with the most robots from across the world to see how productive they were and how much they relied on manufacturing as a percentage of their GDP.

Its study covered the top countries for robot density, measuring it by the number of industrial robots per 10,000 workers. It analysed productivity in GDP per hours worked and each country’s reliance on manufacturing.

The coloured circles represent the robot density of each country (robot per 10,000 workers)

According to Balloon One’s data, not only is the UK using fewer robots, but it is lagging behind in terms of productivity levels as a result of having lower levels of automation. It ranked the UK as the 20th most productive country in the world.

Craig Powell, managing director at Balloon One, said: “This analysis shows that countries with a robot density of 150 or more are, on average, experiencing higher productivity levels than those with a robot density of 149 or less.

“Because there is a correlation between robot density and higher levels of productivity, it seems that if the UK increased its robot density, it could boost productivity.

“This begs the question of whether the country should invest more in automation if it wants to see a boost in its manufacturing productivity. It certainly seems to be working for nations of a similar standing.

“There really is potential up and down the supply chain to enhance productivity with robotics.”

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